|Crystal Palace 2 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Tuesday, 22nd August 2017 Kick-off 19:30
Crystal Palace 2-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Tuesday, 22nd Aug 2017 21:55
Bersant Celina netted his first Blues goal in injury time but two James McArthur strikes saw Crystal Palace to a 2-1 second round Carabao Cup victory over a very young Town side at Selhurst Park. The youthful Blues did themselves proud and held out until the 76th minute when McArthur curled home the first of his brace, the second coming eight minutes later before Celina's goal threatened to spark a late, late Town comeback.
Manager Mick McCarthy named his expected side, which he said yesterday is the youngest he has fielded in his 25 years as a boss. The 10 outfield players have an average age of just over 19.
George Fowler, 19, Pat Webber, 18, Shane McLoughlin, 20, and Ben Folami, 18, were all handed their first-team debuts, while Luke Woolfenden, 18, made his senior start.
Dean Gerken, a veteran at 32, was in goal and skippered with Woolfenden at right-back, Fowler and Webber the centre-halves and Tristan Nydam, 17, at left-back.
In central midfield, Flynn Downes, 18, was partnered in the centre by Adam McDonnell, 20, with on-loan Manchester City winger Bersant Celina, 20, on the left and Danny Rowe, 25, on the right. McLoughlin and Folami were up front.
Downes, Nydam and Rowe were the only ones in the squad to have played on Saturday, when they all came on as subs. Town named just the five subs.
Palace made seven changes from the side which lost 1-0 at Liverpool at the weekend but still included five players who would be considered first-team regulars. Jason Lokilo, an 18-year-old Belgian attacker, was handed his debut.
Former Blues defender Damien Delaney wasn’t included in the 18, while there was also no place for former loanee Jonny Williams. Andros Townsend, another one-time Town loanee was on the bench, but Connor Wickham is still sidelined with the knee injury which ended his 2016/17.
Palace perhaps unsurprisingly had virtually all the ball in the early stages and Sullay Kaikai, who was linked with a loan move to the Blues last season, hit a second-minute shot wide.
But Town, wearing last year’s all white away kit, gradually began to find their feet with Rowe playing a superb cross-field ball to Celina in the eighth minute.
The Kosovan international, making his second appearance for the Blues, looked to run at the Eagles defence every time he got the ball.
The half developed into a slow-paced game played in an almost pre-season friendly atmosphere with one side having a spell of possession and then the other without either creating a chance.
On 17, after Rowe’s promising run had been thwarted at one end, Nydam intercepted a ball played into Lokilo’s path at the other, the Blues’ left-back diverting it out off the Palace man.
Two minutes later, Downes played a clever ball into Folami’s path inside the Palace box but the Australian was dispossessed as he cut inside a defender.
Celina made a dangerous run into the left of the area in the 22nd minute but the danger was cleared before he could find a team-mate.
Town struck their first shot of the match a minute later. Woolfenden played the ball in to Folami’s feet and the striker held it up for what seemed an age before laying it off to the on-rushing Rowe on the edge of the box, but the former Macclesfield man smashed well over.
At the other end, Yohan Cabaye hit a 25th minute strike which was blocked by Fowler, then Patrick van Aanholt shot well wide. Four minutes later, Woolfenden was forced to nod a cross from the right behind at the far post.
Gerken was forced into serious action for the first time in the 33rd minute, diving low to stop Scott Dann’s header from Palace skipper Jason Puncheon’s corner on the right.
Three minutes later, Nydam made an important sliding challenge as Lokilo chased a Puncheon ball down the middle.
As the half moved into its final five minutes the young Blues found themselves pinned back in their half and shortly before the whistle Gerken was called to make another save.
The former Colchester man got across to his left to brilliantly paw away Cabaye’s 20-yard freekick, which looked destined for the top corner, Downes having fouled Lokilo.
After Folami had chased down Rowe’s long ball and Palace keeper Julian Speroni had deftly taken it past him on the edge of his box, much to the delight of the home fans, the half was brought to a close.
The young Blues had far from disgraced themselves against a strong, if not full-strength, Palace side.
The Eagles had had a lot of the ball but had only forced Gerken into two real saves, while the Town kids had also had spells of possession and carved out a couple of openings of their own, albeit without testing Speroni.
Celina, who had started brightly, had become a peripheral figure as the half wore on and Town needed to get the on-loan Manchester City man more involved in the second half.
Ahead of the restart Palace switched Dann for on-loan Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Woolfenden made a strong early run down the right before exchanging passes with Rowe but the youngster’s cross was too close to Speroni.
Gerken was forced into his first save of the second half in the 52nd minute, the Town skipper getting sharply down to his right to save Kaikai’s low strike.
Town’s first chance of the second period came three minutes later. A corner on the left, the Blues’ first of the game, was played short to Celina, who cut in and hit a shot which curled wide.
Celina made a strong run down the middle a minute later before laying the ball to McLoughlin to his left but his cross was cleared.
On 57 Downes was booked for a foul on Van Aanholt and as Palace prepared to take the freekick they swapped the Dutchman for ex-Blues loan man Townsend.
Cabaye shot high and wide from distance as the game approached the hour mark with the young Blues still very much in it.
Match Gallery: 8 photos
In the 65th minute the Blues replaced Folami, who can be pleased with his battling debut up front, for Ben Morris, making it five debuts for the Blues.
Town enjoyed a spell of pressure around the 66th minute mark, but without being able to create a clear-cut opening.
But as the match moved into its final 20 minutes, one or two mistakes began to creep in as the young Blues backline tired, Kaikai taking advantage but shooting over before making way for Chung-yong Lee.
Then, as rain suddenly began to fall heavily, Palace took the lead in the 76th minute. James McArthur broke towards goal with the ball, turned inside Fowler and curled a shot past Gerken and into the net.
The young Blues began to find themselves under almost constant pressure and on 78 a run from Townsend, whose introduction had significantly livened up the home side, ended with Lokilo being found in space at the far post. The Belgian should have scored but Gerken got across to save.
Lokilo went close again soon afterwards, hitting the post after finding himself space with some trickery on the left of the area.
Town swapped Nydam, who had greatly impressed in his secondary role as a left-back, and McLoughlin, who had put in his usual combative display up front, for Monty Patterson and Chris Smith, both of whom were making their Town first-team debuts, taking the night’s total to seven.
Gerken saved McArthur’s effort from distance on 82, but two minutes later the Scotland international made it 2-0, smashing his second of the night past Gerken from 20 yards.
As the game moved into four minutes of injury time the Blues youngsters sent their 1,904 travelling fans - who included rested left-back Myles Kenlock - wild by pulling a goal back.
Downes found Morris on the right and the England U18 international cut it back for Celina, who confidently slotted his first goal for the Blues past Speroni.
The goal gave the Town youngsters - and their support - renewed vigour and they went looking for an equaliser in the remaining minutes.
And it almost came seconds before the whistle when New Zealand international Patterson flicked a freekick from the right not too far past Speroni’s right post.
But, while there was to be no dramatic comeback, the young Town side can be very proud of their efforts.
What was a far more experienced Palace team only started to really dominate in the closing 20 minutes as Town ran out of steam and in the end they gave the home side a minor scare in the final moments.
There were promising displays all over the team - Downes, McDonnell, Nydam and Woolfenden probably the pick, while Gerken handled impressively in goal - and manager McCarthy will feel the evening was a very useful exercise with a number of his younger fringe players - as well as Celina and Rowe, who both looked a little off the top of their games - having got vital first-team minutes under their belts.
The senior Blues XI will be back in action in the Championship at home to Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann (Fosu-Mensah 46), Kelly, Van Aanholt (Townsend 56), Puncheon (c), McArthur, Schlupp, Lokilo, Kaikai (Lee 75), Cabaye. Unused: Hennessey, Tomkins, Milivojevic, Benteke.
Town: Gerken (c), Woolfenden, Fowler, Webber, Nydam (C Smith 81), Rowe, McDonnell, Downes, Celina, McLoughlin (Patterson 81), Folami (Morris 61). Unused: Crowe, McKendry. Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire). Att: 9,837 (Town: 1,904).
Photo: Action Images
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