Crystal Palace Under-23s lost to a single goal against Bolton Wanderers at Palace's Beckenham training ground today.
The Eagles were on top for large swathes of the clash, which was a tight, scrappy affair but lost as they couldn't open their account against a visiting Wanderers side who haven't kept a clean sheet since October 15th.
For the first half, despite finishing it behind, Palace were the superior team throughout, with their best chance coming as Gio McGregor turned in the box before hitting a ball which was pushed wide by shot-stopper James Aspinall. McGregor came close again minutes later, but in front of an open goal, the ball crossed into him was just intercepted.
Aspinall was called into action again to deny Rob Street from close range, snatching the ball from his boots smartly.
Another opportunity for the dominant Eagles arose when Malachi Boateng burst into the box to strike a loose ball on target, though his effort was tame and hit the palms of Aspinall without causing too much trouble.
Bolton did however watch a chance of their own go begging on the half-hour mark as Lucas Perri was forced to fly across his goal to ensure a whipped cross didn't find its way into his net.
Against the run of play, the Wanderers' second chance of note opened the scoring when Jack Earing sent the ball across the box and Joe Muscatt buried it after taking a touch to settle himself. Somehow, the visitors then failed to double their lead when Connor Hall blazed wide of an open goal from very close range, lying bereft on the floor after he sent the ball flying out for a goal kick.
The second half opened well with Aspinall making a fine save high to his right from a Levi Lumeka effort inside the box. Aspinall was again the hero for Bolton when Lumeka's second attempt to score past him came from a close-range header which the number one pushed high with astonishing reflexes.
However, despite the half having kicked-off with two solid chances, it settled down quickly as the wind picked up and the two sides failed to create any real opportunities of note.
Some fine defensive work from Nikola Tavares prevented Connor Hall from burying Bolton's second near to the end of the game as he launched himself across the goal-line to clear the goalbound effort.
McGregor ended the clash as he sent an effort over the bar from 10 yards with the penultimate kick of the game, his miss epitomising Palace's frustrating afternoon.
Palace: Perri, D.Boateng, Brown, M.Boateng, Trialist, Tavares, Pierrick (Aveiro 80), McGregor, Street (Robertson 67), Flanagan, Lumeka (Gordon 80).
Subs not used: Tupper, Chamberlin-Gayle, Robertson.
Bolton: Aspinall, Hartshorne, Johnson, Zouma, Boon, Muscatt, Brockbank, Earing, Hall, Darcy, Tanomowo.
Subs not used: Brown, Alexander, Graham, White, Rodrigues.
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