A strong Palace side entertained a healthy crowd by netting a hatful of superb goals en route to a 5-0 win over Dulwich Hamlet, on a night that helped raise much-needed funds for the National League South side.
Max Meyer’s first goal for the club and a Sullay Kaikai strike handed Roy Hodgson’s team a two-goal lead at the break, before the returning Connor Wickham and youngsters James Daly and Kian Flanagan added further gloss to the scoreline on a night that saw Scott Dann and Wickham also gain some much-needed match action after their long injury lay-offs.
Palace had two excellent early sights of goal within the first 90 seconds when Meyer broke clear and squared for Jordan Ayew who saw his shot blocked on the line by Hamlet captain Magnus Okounghae, and then a minute later a lovely turn by Jonny Williams saw him again put the Ghanaian international in, but he dragged his shot wide.
The one-way traffic continued in the early stages and Preston Edwards was forced into his first save after 10 minutes when Meyer drove a shot goalwards just before Tyrick Mitchell rippled the side-netting, but on 15 minutes the German did finally open the scoring.
A slick attack involving Ayew, Kaikai and Jason Puncheon saw the ball travel across the area, allowing the skipper to tee up Meyer who accurately steered into the far corner to score his first ever goal in a Palace shirt.
With the lead in their pocket, Hodgson’s team eased off a little in terms of creating chances, but on 34 minutes they doubled their lead in fine style. Williams picked the ball up 35 yards from goal and played it to Kaikai, who hammered an unstoppable shot right into the top corner of Edwards’ goal.
Despite finding themselves 2-0 down, Dulwich nearly reduced the arrears when Nathan Ferguson cut inside and curled towards the bottom corner and was a whisker away from netting, and that was the closest the non-leaguers came to netting during a half in which they had more than held their own for two-thirds of it.
Dann, Meyer, Williams and Ayew were all withdrawn at the break with Wickham given a first run-out since pre-season, but the changes didn’t stop Palace’s dominance and Kaikai nearly added a second spectacular goal but Edwards made an impressive save to tip the ball onto the woodwork.
But three goals in quick succession saw the Eagles’ superior quality come to the fore. On 63 minutes Kaikai whipped a corner into the box and Wickham powered a header into the top corner via the crossbar to score his first goal in a Palace shirt since November 2016.
That clearly boosted the hitman and five minutes later he was sent charging towards goal and forced Edwards to save with his feet, but the ball spun goalwards and only an acrobatic clearance by Cheick Toure prevented him completing his brace, however Daly was on hand to tuck home a simple rebound for his team’s fourth of the night.
After Edwards had produced another magnificent save by tipping a piledriver from Wickham onto his post, he was helpless to stop Palace making it 5-0 on 73 minutes when Flanagan took aim from 25 yards and once again found the top corner of the net to add another to his side’s collection of great goals from the evening.
Palace seemed to declare at five and indeed it was the plucky hosts who came closest to adding to the scoresheet but the Eagles defence held firm to cap off a beneficial night for Palace, and also, more importantly, Dulwich Hamlet FC.
Dulwich: Edwards, Taylor, Okuonghae, Chambers, Taylor, Clunis, Carew, Ferguson, Akinyemi, Eshun, Vose. Subs: Toure, Ming, Deen-Conteh, Abrahams, Tomlin Cook, May, Allen, Guimaraes.
Palace: Speroni, Mitchell (Brown 66), Dann O’Dwyer 45), Kelly (Tavares 80), Ward, Riedewald, Williams (Flanagan 45), Puncheon, Meyer (Daly 45), Ayew (Wickham 45), Kaikai. Sub not used: Tupper.