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Report: Vieira’s Eagles get off to flying start against Walsall

Crystal Palace kicked-off their pre-season fixture schedule and life under Patrick Vieira with a 0-1 win at the Banks’s Stadium on a sweltering Saturday afternoon.

Summary

  • Patrick Vieira named a strong starting XI for his first game in charge of the Eagles - a 4-3-3 shape with Vicente Guaita in goal and academy prospect Rob Street up front
  • The Eagles were sharp and started brightly, creating a number of chances in the opening 15 minutes
  • Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring for the Eagles after excellent link up play with Rob Street
  • Half-time: Walsall 0-1 Crystal Palace
  • Vieira makes 11 changes at the start of the second-half to introduce a number of academy prospects
  • Scott Banks and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi test the keeper, but can’t break through
  • Kieran Phillips hits the crossbar with five minutes left for the Saddlers
  • Full-time: Walsall 0-1 Crystal Palace

The Eagles headed to the Banks’s Stadium for their first taste of match action 56 days on from finishing 14th in the Premier League.

Walsall, under new manager Matthew Taylor, came into this clash with two pre-season games already under their belt, though they were fielding younger sides.

The Eagles started brightly, with a well worked move down the left between Tyrick Mitchell and Wilfried Zaha resulting in the winger’s first shot of the game which was parried by Carl Rushworth in the Walsall goal.

Zaha was bearing down on goal once again a few minutes later, after being played through by a defence-splitting pass from Jeff Schlupp, however he was well marshalled by defender Rollin Menayese.

The Eagles had a flurry of chances halfway through the first-half, with efforts from Mitchell and James McArthur charged down, and Jordan Ayew firing narrowly over the bar.

The two teams looked set to go into the break level, but Zaha had other ideas. Excellent combination play between him and Rob Street saw the Ivorian winger slot home inside the box to give Palace the lead four minutes before half-time.

After the interval, new manager Patrick Vieira made wholesale changes to the team - utilising all 11 substitutes to bring on a side composed almost entirely of academy prospects.

The Eagles got off to a good start early on in the second-half, with Scott Banks’ attempt kept out at the near post.

Just past the hour-mark and the Eagles pushed forward with great intent, though Jesurun Rak-Sakyi’s effort saved and John-Kymani Gordon’s volley did not challenge the keeper.

Shortly after, the hosts were through on goal, though astute defending from Jaroslaw Jach ensured Palace’s clean sheet stayed intact.

The Saddlers almost found a way back into the game with five minutes left on the clock, striker Kieran Phillips hit the crossbar from inside the Palace box.

A corner late on from Nya Kirby found Jake O’Brien, but his header went narrowly wide of the post.

That proved to be the last attempt of the game, as the full-time whistle blew shortly after. Palace held on to record a victory in their first game of pre-season and the first victory under the tenure of Patrick Vieira.

Walsall: Rushworth (Rose, 45), White (Foulkes, 67), Ward (Leake, 60), Mills, Taylor (Perry, 60), Menayese (Monthe, 60), Kiernan (Sadler, 82), Kinsella, Phillips, Osadebe (Trialist A, 45), Holden (Maher, 75).

Subs not used: Rose, Leak, Perry, Maher, Foulkes, Sadler, Monthe, Trialist A

Crystal Palace first-half: Guaita (GK), Clyne, Kelly, Tomkins, Mitchell, Schlupp, Riedewald, McArthur, Ayew, Street, Zaha.

Crystal Palace second-half: Butland (GK), Quick, O’Brien, Jach, Hannam, Kirby, Boateng, Wells-Morrison (Steele, 73), Rak-Sakyi, Gordon (Mateta, 73), Banks.

Subs not used: Webber (GK)