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      U23s Report: Crystal Palace 3-1 Watford

      Crystal Palace U23
      Watford U23

      Palace’s development team recovered from a goal down to convincingly beat Watford 3-1 at their Beckenham training ground.

      Having suffered the setback of conceding a penalty midway through the first half, goals from Kian Flanagan, Levi Lumeka and Michael Phillips sealed a comeback win for Richard Shaw’s side, who were easily the better team throughout the encounter.

      There were plenty of early signals of intent from the hosts and after Sullay Kaikai dragged an early attempt wide, Lumeka forced Nathan Gartside into a brilliant reaction save when the ball was centred into his path, and from the resulting corner Kaikai thumped a vicious shot off the crossbar.

      However, on 24 minutes the Hornets grabbed the opener in controversial circumstances. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was clumsily bundled over by Brandon Mason but the referee allowed play to continue, and the left-back slipped in Michael Folivi who was brought down in similar fashion by Michael Phillips inside the box. This time, a penalty was awarded, which Folivi fired past Joe Tupper with precision.

      But just four minutes later, the Eagles bounced back by restoring parity. A dangerous corner by Jason Lokilo was flapped at by Gartside, and it fell kindly to Flanagan who drove the ball through a crowd of players to hit back instantly.

      Tupper was then forced into a diving stop to deny Brice Dja Djedje converting a curling free-kick, before Gartside did to same from a Lokilo effort from inside the D to make sure that the sides went into the break level, but just three minutes after the restart that changed when Lumeka managed to bundle the ball into the net at the third attempt from close range following a goalmouth scramble.

      The Hornets were managed by ex-Eagle Hayden Mullins and he threw on another Palace old boy in Randell Williams who was put through on goal during a rare attack but saw his shot deflected wide, but after that scare the result was put beyond doubt with eight minutes to go.

      After another corner was cleared back out to Lokilo on the right wing, he whipped a fine cross to the back post for an unmarked Nikola Tavares, who he neatly nodded it back into the danger area for his centre-back partner Phillips to control and fire past a helpless Gartside to seal the points.

      Palace: Tupper, Wan-Bissaka, Phillips, Tavares, Souare (Brown 71), Riedewald (McGregor 71), Kirby, Lokilo, Flanagan, Kaikai, Lumeka. Subs not used: Funnell, Husin, Oddy.

      Watford: Gartside, Eleftheriou (Sesay 54), Rowan, Huja, Mason; Lewis, Djédjé (Charles 80), Stewart; Folivi, Jakubiak, Pereira (Williams 65). Subs not used: Lacy, Mukena.