Crystal Palace Under-23s were edged out 2-1 against an experienced League Two Crawley Town side, with the Eagles initially taking the lead at the People’s Pension Stadium.
- January signing Scott Banks starts for Shaun Derry’s side, which included eight trialists feature over the course of the 90 minutes
- Trialist curls Palace into the lead after good work from Rob Street
- HT: Crawley Town 0-1 Crystal Palace
- Recent signing Jake Giddings makes his Palace bow
- Crawley forward Sam Ashford equalises with a strong header
- Brian Galach completes the turnaround for the hosts with a low shot
- FT: Crawley Town 2-1 Crystal Palace
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Neither team had played since March, with Palace Under-23s playing Watford on Friday March 6th, whilst Crawley defeated Oldham Athletic 3-0 the following day to finish 13th and end their League Two campaign on a high.
And the Red Devils showed no signs of rustiness early on, pressing Palace high up the pitch – principally led by left-back Josh Doherty – and giving striker Ricardo German two early shots in the first five minutes - the second of which blazed wastefully over from 10 yards after Lewis Hobbs miscued a clearance.
But despite Crawley initially dominating possession, Palace’s mixture of regular Under-23 players and trialists were coping well, with Rob Street throwing himself into plenty of tackles up front. Therefore, it was no surprise when the striker was instrumental in Shaun Derry’s side opening the scoring.
After winning the ball in the right-hand channel, Street found Trialist in the box. Who, with his back to goal held off the defender’s challenge and laid the ball off to Trialist in a pocket of space outside the box, who opened the scoring with a fine, curling left-footed finish past Glenn Morris’ despairing dive.
Palace’s Scott Banks – who has returned from his loan at Scottish Championship side Alloa Athletic - turned his marker cleverly on the left-wing and raced into the box but despite a silky 360 turn past a defender he was eventually crowded out.
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Just after the half hour mark, Palace were caught out in the six-yard box by lively forward Tyler Frost and although German dummied Lewis Hobbs’ attempted block, goalkeeper Oliver Webber smothered his low poke towards goal and watched gratefully as Tarryn Allarakhia’s first-time 20-yard effort on the rebound went past the post.
After Trialist fed Street down the right-hand channel, the target man dug out a low driven cross, and although it was cleared the ball fell to Trialist who had started the move. However, he side-footed wide from outside the area in what was last chance of the half.
After the interval TQ Addy – after recently signing his first professional contract – replaced bright spark Banks and immediately found room in the box to receive a subtle pass from Brandon Aveiro and smash towards goal, although his first-time left-footed effort fizzed narrowly off target.
Just after the hour mark John Yems’ side equalised via a set-piece, with the referee awarding a free-kick after David Sesay went down easily under Addy’s challenge. Brian Galach curled in a fine floating cross which was headed in powerfully through the crowd by Sam Ashford.
Seventeen-year-old Crawley midfielder Rafiq Salah-Edine then chopped inside onto his right foot and unleashed a rasping effort which was well tipped into the side netting by Jacob Russell down to his right for a corner.
Following the drinks break the home side reappeared rejuvenated and took the lead through Galach, who latched on to a smart flick-on and despite pressure from new Palace signing Jake Giddings finished it hard and low across goalkeeper Russell from the left side of the area.
The Eagles looked to respond straight away and clever interplay between Trialist and Aveiro won a corner. The pair worked the ball nicely into the box, but the initial shot and then the cross were both dealt with.
Aveiro then slalomed round three more defenders and fired a dipping shot on target, but the Crawley goalkeeper’s positioning was solid and he smothered the ball.
In the last chance of the game Trialist won a free-kick 20 yards out but Addy’s attempt sailed just over before a seasoned Crawley side saw the final minutes out.
Palace (first half): Oliver Webber; Trialist, Jay Rich-Baghuelou, Lewis Hobbs, Trialist; Trialist, Trialist, Kian Flanagan, Scott Banks; Trialist, Rob Street.
Palace (second half): Jacob Russell; David Boateng, Jude Russell, Dan Quick, Trialist; Brandon Aveiro, Aidan Steele, Jake Giddings, TQ Addy; Trialist, Trialist.
Crawley (first half): Glenn Morris, Archie Davies, Manny Adebowale, Tony Craig, Josh Doherty, Sam Matthews, Dannie Bulman, Jack Powell, Tarryn Allarakhia, Tyler Frost, Ricardo German.
Crawley (second half): Trialist; Jordan Tunnicliffe, Joe McNerney, Tom Dallison; David Sesay, Nathan Ferguson, Rafiq Salah-Edine, Gyliano van Velze (Zaid Al-Hussaini 73); Sam Ashford, Ashley Nadesan, Brian Galach.