Crystal Palace’s under-18 side ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in their latest pre-season fixture at Cray Wanderers.
Goals from Elliot List, Jake Gray and Reise Allassani proved more than enough to defeat the Ryman Premier League outfit, despite missing a first-half penalty.
But it was Cray who had the better of the opening exchanges in front of a bumper 567 crowd – more than double the club’s usual average attendance – causing Palace problems down the left without creating a clear-cut chance.
It seemed they would be made to rue their inability to convert possession into the opening goal, when Palace won a penalty on 20 minutes. Some neat skill on the ball by Allassani on the edge of the box saw him control the ball at close quarters and hold off two defenders, before flicking it into the path of the on-running Elliot List.
The youngster took a stride into the area before being felled from behind, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Gray stepped up confidently, but Cray goalkeeper Andy Walker got down well to his left to parry the ball to safety.
The non-league side almost made the Eagles pay instantly, when a quick counter attack resulted in a stinging shot from Tommy Whitnell, which was well saved by David Gregory.
Cray went even closer moments later, as striker Leigh Bremmer rose highest to meet a cross from the right, only to see his header thunder off the crossbar.
With 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Whitnell looked a danger again, heading wide after a deep corner picked him out at the back post.
But it was the visitors who took the lead with five minutes of opening 45 left on the clock. A through ball down the centre from Oliver O'Dwyer was perfectly weighted for List, who outpaced his marker before coolly rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into the back of the net to break the deadlock.
The Eagles made three changes at the break and noticeably picked up the tempo during the second half. First the lively Allassani won a free kick on the left, which was curled just over by Jermaine Smith, before Palace eventually doubled their advantage.
Javen Palmer was fed the ball in the middle of the area by trialist Ambrose Gnahore and he broke into space on the left. Despite wasting a shooting opportunity of his own, Palmer got his cross in and the ball eventually ricocheted to Gray, who fired home to make it 2-0.
And just five minutes later, Palace made absolutely sure of the victory. Allassani, who had clearly benefitted from training with the first team squad in Portugal earlier this summer, started a neat move with a run through the centre.
He played the ball wide to substitute Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, who delivered a wicked low cross into the box. Palmer’s shot was blocked from close range, but the on-rushing Allassani was on hand to tap home the rebound from inside the six yard box.
Palmer missed another chance to get on the score sheet soon after when Gray nicked the ball off the Cray defence and fed the ball to him on the edge of the area, but he took the ball too wide when he could have shot and the chance was gone.
After Cray hit the crossbar for a second time through a thunderous volley, there was time for one last Palace opportunity.
The lively Kyle Spence, who had been the lynch pin of the 2nd half build up play, stole the ball off a hesitant defender's boot and shot on target, only to see his effort saved. Corie Andrews looked destined to score from the rebound, but Walker got up well to complete a smart double stop.
But his goalkeeping heroics weren’t enough to prevent the Eagles under-18s running out comfortable winners, as they prepare for their first fixture of the season against Millwall on 17th August.
Palace under-18s: Gregory, Wright (Egbo, 45), George (Berkeley-Agyepong, 45), Khinda-John, O'Dwyer, Smith (Kennedy, 60), List (Gnahore, 45), Starkey (Spence, 60), Palmer (Mohammed, 74), Gray (Andrews, 74), Allassani (Hoare, 60).