Just like their first-team counterparts, Palace’s under-18 side got their new season off to the perfect start last Saturday by winning away from home at Bolton Wanderers.
Victor Fundi grabbed the game’s only goal just 90 seconds into the contest and the Eagles held firm for the remainder of the encounter to pick up a well-merited three points.
Having enjoyed a pre-season trip to Ballina in the Republic of Ireland which saw them play their hosts, Sligo Rovers’ academy side and coach some youngsters, the Eagles squad travelled to Lancashire aiming to improve on last season’s fourth place finish, and had a dream start in the second minute when they worked the ball out wide to Andre Coker who whipped it into Fundi’s path to finish past Will Jaaskelainen, son of Jussi, in the Bolton goal with a first time strike.
The game began at a frantic pace and Bolton could have been level when only some good defensive work by Sam Woods and goalkeeper Ollie Pain prevented the Trotters from finding an instant reply.
Fundi nearly grabbed his and Palace’s second of the game just five minutes in when he struck the woodwork after Kian Flanagan’s corner to the back post was headed back into his path, but the striker’s left-footed blast cannoned off the crossbar.
The visitors boasted six first years in their starting line-up but suffered a blow after 20 minutes when Pain was forced off following some brave play that saw him thwart a Bolton attack by diving at an attacker’s feet, and the Aussie was replaced by Colm McAdden who went on to impress on his debut for the club.
In the second 45 Ken Gillard’s boys had more chances to get further in front with last season’s top scorer Michael Phillips seeing an attempt flash across the face of goal, and Corie Andrews dragging an effort wide with his left foot with 10 minutes to go.
However McAdden’s goal was barely troubled in the latter stages as Palace remained resolute at the back and were delighted at full-time with the result, clean sheet and perfect start to their campaign.