The Under-18 side started their season with a convincing victory against Hull City in a game that ended 5-0 on an overcast morning in Beckenham.
Paddy McCarthy's side began the game with unwavering dominance, they were unfortunate to see Rob Street's penalty and subsequent rebound saved within 30 seconds of kicking off.
Their immediate offensive onslaught was maintained throughout the opening stages of the first half, with Will Donkin, the Chinese Taipei international, striking a free-kick against Hull's unflinching wall five minutes into the game and Jude Russell unlucky to see a well-crafted attack result in his shot ricocheting off the Tigers' 'keeper's near post.
A series of early attempts were either saved or not taken as players such as Brandon Pierrick and Street rotated in their offensive efforts on Hull's besieged goalmouth. A resolute visiting goalkeeping performance ensured that Palace's first half assault bore no fruit, however, as he did well to mop up regular through-balls and stand strong to intercept any potential chances that the Eagles created.
Hull's only real chance of note in the opening period came on 26 minutes as Rohan Luthra found himself called into action to pull off an impressive save from a blistering shot that stung his fingers before clearing Palace's cross-bar to a collective sigh of relief.
As the temperature of both the game and south London cooled off by the half hour mark, Hull's goalkeeper continued to periodically perform several routine saves to frustrate a dominant Palace side who attempted to work the channels and feed a threatening attacking line. Their pressure, although now less intense, eventually yielded success moments before the end of the first-half as Street latched onto an aerial ball up field that dipped behind Hull's back-line to bury Palace's first goal low into the Tigers' net. Now that their efforts had finally resulted in a notch on the scoreboard, Palace went into half-time confident and assured that their approach was working.
Making no changes to an impressive starting lineup, McCarthy's team continued the match in the second half as they'd played in the first. Following an alarmingly sudden chance borne from a pacy No.2 on Hull's right flank, Palace dealt with their northern opposition defensively to free up another successful attacking barrage. Scoring his second, Street split Hull's back-line to then drive the ball low to the keeper's right for Palace to double their lead.
From here, the young Eagles side kept their foot on the gas to score twice in eight minutes; the first coming from a lively Brandon Aveiro who converted his chance into an open goal, assisted by some class work at the byline. The second came from Pierrick, rewarded for his clever ball to Street who then returned the favour with a pinpoint cross for Pierrick to convert with conviction.
Throughout the game, Palace were able to wield a potent attacking threat due to a talented quartet in Pierrick, Street, Donkin and Aveiro, who were allowed to roam forward by a confident back-four guarded by the efforts of Bivesh Gurung.
Hull maintained their attacks but had seemingly lost the game by the time Palace made three substitutions on the 70th minute. Courtney Watson, Joshua Malcolm and Joshua Ajayi took to the field and looked confident taking over in attack. Whilst the game settled down, a mazy run from Malcolm resulted in the No.15 selflessly squaring the ball to Watson, who slid the ball past Hull's unfortunate 'keeper for Palace's fifth.
Having won the U18 Development League South last season, Crystal Palace showed that they intended to perform this season just as well and a notable opening day return in this game with a number of U16s making the step up. Their perennial supremacy meant that the side could drop deeper and relax for the last ten minutes of the match, soaking up a spell of fairly tame attacks by Hull to see the game out and take three points in an impressive 5-0 victory.
Ajayi took the penultimate kick of the 90 minutes but was frustrated to see his goal ruled out for offside.
The team will face Crewe Alexandra next Saturday and hope to build on the success earned in this season's curtain-raiser.
Palace: Luthra, Russell, Chamberlin, Gurung, Onoabhagbe (C), Hanson, Pierrick, Boateng, Street, Donkin, Aveiro. Subs: Watson, Malcolm, Ajayi (70 minutes)
Goals: Street 43, 49, Aveiro 52, Pierrick 60, Watson 75.