Francis Jno Baptiste came off the bench to score twice late on and seal a first victory of the season for Palace as they thrashed Leeds United at Hemel Hempstead FC.
With the pitches at the under-18s’ usual Beckenham home being renovated, Paddy McCarthy’s team made the journey to Hertfordshire to take on the Whites, however they quickly adapted to their new surroundings by taking a seventh-minute lead when Tyrick Mitchell picked out Joseph Hungbo with a superb diagonal pass, which he sprinted onto the end of to finish well.
Palace would find themselves two ahead on 36 minutes when they pressed Leeds at a throw-in and Hungbo forced a mistake, allowing him to play a pass into a trialist, and the striker rounded the goalkeeper before tapping into the net to give McCarthy’s boys a healthy lead.
It was only maintained thanks to a fantastic save from stand-in keeper Matthew Funnell who made a superb point-blank save just before the break, having replaced the injured Oliver Webber in the warm-up.
The visitors were getting frustrated and tempers boiled over around the hour mark when they were reduced to 10 players after one Leeds man lashed out at David Boateng, however two minutes after that setback they found a way back into the game when a well-worked move saw the ball arrive at the feet of Alex Wollerton who lashed it into the top corner.
That prompted McCarthy to throw on Jno Baptiste, and last season’s top scorer repaid the faith by bagging a brace to seal the win. On 74 minutes he netted a fantastic header as he ran onto a fine cross from Joshua Malcolm, and then with a couple of minutes to go he pounced on a mistake from the Leeds keeper to tap into an empty goal and complete a convincing victory for the Eagles.
Palace: Funnell, Russell, Demby, Lynch, Onen, Boateng, Malcolm (Watson 84), Robertson (Jno Baptiste 63), Mitchell (Douglas 89), trialist, Hungbo. Sub not used: Hanson.