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      Report & Highlights: Palace held by Athletic Club in International Cup opener

      Crystal Palace U21
      Grehan 42'
      Athletic Club U21
      Duñabeitia 59'

      Crystal Palace Under-21s shared the spoils with Athletic Club U21s on a rainy September evening at the VBS Community Stadium. Captain Seán Grehan’s first-half header was cancelled out by Aimar Duñabeitia’s equaliser in the second-half.


      • Akinwale came in as the only change for Palace

      • Lopez tested Whitworth early on with a tame effort

      • Grehan put in a last-ditch challenge to deny Gift 15 minutes in

      • Palace struck the bar through Devenny a few minutes later

      • Grehan heads Palace in front just before half-time

      • Seconds before the break, Mustapha hits the bar for Palace

      • HT: Palace 1-0 Athletic

      • Akinwale was denied by the post early on in the second-half

      • Duñabeitia equalises for the visitors in the 59th minute

      • Umeh threatened as the game went on

      • FT:  Palace 1-1 Athletic

      International Cup Highlights: Crystal Palace 1-1 Athletic Club

      Four days on from the late defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Premier League 2, Crystal Palace Under-21s returned to action for their first game of the Premier League International Cup.

      Head coach Darren Powell made one change to the side which faced Forest as Victor Akinwale came in for Ademola Ola-Adebomi, who was with the first-team.

      The visitors threatened early on through Inigio Lopez, though his effort from the edge of the box was tame and well held by Joe Whitworth in the Palace goal.

      Athletic were in with a gilt-edged chance a quarter of an hour in as defender Chris Francis slipped, however captain and fellow centre-back partner Seán Grehan recovered in time to block Elijah Gift’s effort inside the box.

      Palace came agonisingly close to taking the lead just a few minutes later after Justin Devenny hit the crossbar. Roshaun Mathurin’s free-kick in wasn’t dealt with, and it fell to the midfielder inside the box who struck it on the volley against the woodwork.

      It looked as though Palace were going to go in level at the break, though the skipper had other ideas. A dangerous ball from a Mathurin corner towards the far post picked out Grehan who headed in his second of the season from close range, inside the six yard box, to give Palace the lead.

      A goal to the good, the Eagles looked to see out the half. They almost went in two goals up - a short free-kick routine picked out Hindolo Mustapha on the edge of the box and the midfielder’s first-time effort cannoned back out off the crossbar.

      Palace came out after the break in search of a second and nearly claimed one early on in the half through another set piece. Another corner from Mathurin was aimed in at Grehan who headed back across goal towards Akinwale - Palace’s No. 9 flicked it on and saw his effort bounce off the post and into the ‘keeper's hands.

      Athletic, looking for an equaliser, threatened early on in the second-half on a counter attack, however Noah Watson did brilliantly to track back and cut off Gift from creating a chance.

      The Basque outfit did manage to find an equaliser and it came through a corner of their own. A whipped ball in from a corner picked out Aimar Duñabeitia in the box and the defender headed home the equaliser for the visitors.

      With the game level pegging, the two sides were in search of what proved to be an elusive winner in the remaining half an hour. Franco Umeh was the focal point of the Palace attacks, though his two major chances were just wide of the mark and denied by Oier Gastesi in the Athletic goal.

      The visitors best chance in the remaining half hour came through their striker Lopez, though Whitworth saved and held onto his effort on the counter. Late changes for Palace which introduced three Under-18s players into the U21s squad for the first time didn’t see them claim all three points.

      A point apiece for both sides sees Athletic ahead of Palace by virtue of alphabetical ordering. The Basque side are second whilst the Eagles are third. Monaco top Group C after beating Liverpool.

      Palace: Whitworth (GK), Imray, Grehan, Francis, Watson, Raymond (Austin, 90), Devenny, Mustapha (Marsh, 79), Umeh (Cardines 90+4), Akinwale, Mathurin.

      Subs not used: Izquierdo (GK), Grante, Derry, Sheridan.

      Athletic: Gastesi (GK), Palacín (Vicandi, 81), Barandalla, Duñabeitia, de Luis (Ebro, 56), Rego, Gift, Bito (Alboniga-Menor, 72), López (Hierro, 72), Canales (Arredondo, 81), Bilbao.

      Subs not used: Santos (GK), Huestamendia.