A Crystal Palace squad replete with youthful Development talents fell 2-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers this evening at Molineux, with the home side netting once each half to ensure the Eagles could only take positives from the experience gained by their inexperienced prospects.
- Roy Hodgson names five Development prospects in his squad, with Tyrick Mitchell earning his first Premier League start
- Mamadou Sakho leaves the field to be replaced by Cheikhou Kouyate after 22 minutes
- Both sides are fairly balanced, with little of note happening in the game’s first 40 minutes
- Wolves open the scoring through Daniel Podence shortly before half-time
- Half-time: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Crystal Palace
- Wolves begin the second-half well, and score their second through Jonny just as Palace begin to look level
- The home side consolidate their lead adeptly, and Palace are restricted to half chances for the remainder of the game
- Full-time: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace
A first start in any league is a daunting task for an aspiring footballer. From the cut, viscous turf of Sunday league to the bowling greens of the top-flight, a debut kick-off is a notable rung on the sporting ladder.
The scale of that task increases when the aspiring footballer is a defender. It increases further still when they’re only 20-years-old.
So, teammates, opposition and the thousands watching from home wouldn’t and couldn’t blame Tyrick Mitchell for a shaky start against Wolves this evening. But he didn’t have one. In fact, he had quite the opposite.
Mitchell began Palace’s game this evening with several confident runs along the left touchline, familiarising himself with a slice of the Premier League pitch he may become familiar with in years to come.
His drives forward, in fact, yielded the game’s first two chances - as Jeffrey Schlupp had a cross blocked out and then Mitchell himself saw his ball to Jordan Ayew suffocated.
Much of the Academy prospect’s start came in the front half - or even third - of Wolves’ territory. With Adama Traore his company in the Eagles’ defensive sector, perhaps that comes as no surprise.
But on one push forward, Mitchell fell victim to a stinging accident as Matt Doherty’s studs pressed into his boot, leaving Palace’s rearguard a man short while defending a counter-attack.
It was a bruising start for Mitchell, and yet he was not the first Palace defender to leave the pitch, with Mamadou Sakho undergoing treatment after 18 minutes and being replaced by Cheikhou Kouyate to hand Roy Hodgson another fitness blow.
Fortunately, though typically a midfielder for the south Londoners, Kouyate has experience at centre-back for Senegal, and slotted into the backline comfortably.
At the other end of the pitch, Palace recorded the game’s first chance of note, with Wilfried Zaha fizzing a ball into Schlupp’s feet 25 yards from goal.
Schlupp drove into the box alone but, under increasing defensive pressure, could only shoot wide by barely an inch to hit the advertising boards behind Rui Patricio’s net.
Andros Townsend then whipped the ball into Patricio’s hands from a long-range free-kick, but the home side were the first to attack with success as Daniel Podence headed home on the end of a finely developed push towards the byline.
Palace then saw a string of dead balls lead to nothing and were forced to return to the changing room a goal behind.
With momentum behind them, the home side began the second-half brightest, with fleeting chances for Jonny, Traore and Raul Jimenez dealt with adeptly by Palace’s defence.
The Eagles settled themselves back into the game and began to push at Wolves as they had done - without many chances to remark on - in the first-half.
Approaching the hour mark, Traore ran in trademark fashion and forced Vicente Guaita into a solid, low block and the visitors could reflect on an assured defensive spell. His burst forward was a clear warning call, if Palace or any visiting side ever needed one.
Reacting, Palace then put Patricio under pressure as he mopped up a deep James McCarthy cross and then again Guaita was forced into instinctive action as he raced to punt clear a dribbling Jimenez flick-on.
But the Spanish shot stopper wasn’t given a chance when Wolves doubled their lead. Acting on his threat, Traore burst with unstoppable strength between Mitchell and McArthur before feeding a Jimenez tap on to Jonny, who turned home with confidence.
Having been so deservedly equal in the first-half, Palace appeared as if they struggled to react to Wolves' newfound dominance, and the game petered into its dying minutes.
The Eagles threatened with a series of half chances - Zaha and Mitchell both in the green turf of Wolves' box - but were unable to send Patricio's net bulging.
By the final whistle, a talented, on-song Wolves side could be proud to have protected their European place against a Palace team who provided tough opposition for swathes of the game. The Eagles return to London with one clash of the season left, without points but with a valuable experience secured by five talented young prospects.
Wolves: Patricio, Coady, Jonny, Boly, Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Traore (Neto 81), Dendoncker, Jimenez, Podence (Jota 72).
Subs: Ruddy, Kilman, Buur, Saiss, Vinagre, Gibbs-White, Jordao.
Palace: Guaita, Mitchell, Sakho (Kouyate 22), Dann, Ward, Schlupp (Riedewald 72), McArthur, McCarthy, Townsend, Zaha, Ayew.
Subs: Henderson, Kelly, Woods, Kirby, Meyer, Pierrick, Gordon.