Ipswich Town 0-1 Crystal Palace - Match Report
Saturday, 24th Jul 2021 16:59
Wilfried Zaha’s penalty on the hour mark was enough to see Premier League Crystal Palace to a 1-0 victory over the Blues at Portman Road. The Eagles had had plenty of chances prior to Zaha finding the net from the spot having been fouled by the returning Kane Vincent-Young.
Joe Pigott and Scott Fraser made their first appearances in Town shirts as fans returned to Portman Road, while four of the other summer signings also started, as did Vincent-Young having undergone shoulder surgery at the end of last season, but with Lee Evans missing.
Town began the game with new keeper Vaclav Hladky in goal, Vincent-Young at right-back, Matt Penney on the left and Toto Nsiala, who skippers, and Luke Woolfenden the centre-halves.
In midfield, youngster Cameron Humphreys was the surprise inclusion alongside new additions Rekeem Harper, who was also in the centre, Wes Burns on the right and Scott Fraser on the left. James Norwood was just off Pigott up front.
Evans is understood to have picked up a knock in training and was not involved, while Jon Nolan was again absent having suffered a calf problem early in pre-season.
A surprise on the bench was the inclusion of Kayden Jackson, who has been relegated to the U23s throughout pre-season up to now.
Macauley Bonne, Janoi Donacien and Armando Dobra were also among the subs alongside a number of younger players.
New Palace boss Patrick Vieira was in charge for the second time having won 1-0 at Walsall last week.
The Eagles named a strong line-up featuring the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew, Cheikhou Kouyate, Nathaniel Clyne, Jeffrey Schlupp and James McArthur.
The Town crowd made themselves heard as the players took to the field, 17 months after the last time Portman Road was graced by support of a significant number.
The Blues started brightly with Pigott showing an early aerial presence and Town winning a couple of early corners.
However, following one of those flag-kicks, in the fourth minute, Palace broke quickly through Zaha, who crossed from the right to Jean-Philippe Mateta completely unmarked but the Frenchman made a real mess of it and somehow sent the ball looping wide, much to the delight of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Two minutes later, Zaha threatened again having been sent away down the middle into the area, but Vincent-Young slid in to take the ball away from the Ivory Coast international as he looked to pull the trigger.
The Premier League side continued to present the greater threat but Mateta again failed to find the target by some distance on eight, then a minute later an Ayew effort looped wide of Hladky’s right post via a deflection.
Town were fortunate not to have conceded at least once with the Eagles having carved their way through their backline with ease. On 14 Zaha cut in from the left unchallenged before shooting high and wide.
On 23 Ayew curled a free-kick over the bar after Humphreys had fouled Zaha just outside the box.
Two minutes later, Zaha twisted and turned his way into the area but Nsiala slid across to clear against the former Manchester United man and out for a goal-kick.
The one-way traffic continued and on 26 Nsiala again did well to prevent Zaha from finding Ayew with a pass inside the area.
From the corner, the Premier League side, who had already had enough chances to have had the game sewn up, managed their first effort on target, skipper James Tomkins heading goalwards and Hladky saving to his right.
Burns struck Town’s first shot of the afternoon just after the half-hour, striking a 25-yard effort after Pigott had chested down to him which Vicente Guaita saved to his right.
Hladky saved from Ayew’s flicked header in the 33rd minute following a corner, then three minutes later at the other end Burns whipped over a cross but Cheikhou Kouyate got ahead of Norwood to clear.
On 42 Hladky had to come off his line quickly to dive at Zaha’s feet. The ball ran loose but Nsiala showed the presence of mind to lay it off to a Woolfenden, who cleared.
In injury time, Fraser played a clever ball in for Burns darting across from the right flank but the move ultimately came to nothing.
The Blues were applauded at the whistle, while Palace will have wondered how they weren’t in front having dominated and having had more than enough chances to not only have grabbed the lead but had the game won.
However, a combination of bad finishing, some determined last-ditch defending from Nsiala in particular and a couple of sharp Hladky saves meant the scores remained level.
At the other end, Burns had forced Guaita into his only save of the game, after good work from Pigott, who had shown enough to suggest he will be a big presence as the lone striker in League One in the season ahead, and the former Fleetwood man had presented Town’s greatest threat breaking down the right.
Palace began the second half in the same manner as the much of the first with Zaha seeing an early effort deflected wide from the left of the box.
From the corner, Mateta headed off the bar and Nsiala somehow turned the ball behind as it dropped inside the six-yard area. Following that corner, Hladky tipped over from Schlupp.
Town went close to taking the lead in the 52nd minute when Vincent-Young and Burns exchanged passes on the right and the former Colchester man brought it forward before finding Norwood. The Town number 10 knocked it down to Pigott 20 yards out from where the former AFC Wimbledon man struck a low 20-yard shot which hit the outside of Guaita’s left post.
Five minutes later, Palace also struck a post, Mateta hitting a low effort which beat Hladky but cannoned against the woodwork. Nsiala was again first to the loose ball to half-clear. However, Zaha brought the ball in from the left and forced Hladky to palm wide with a well-struck effort from an angle.
Just before the hour mark Palace were awarded a penalty when Zaha brought the ball across Vincent-Young and the Blues’ defender sent the winger sprawling as he sought to make a challenge.
There were few complaints from Town and Zaha got up to hit his spot-kick into the roof of Hladky’s net to finally break the deadlock.
Following the goal, the Blues swapped Norwood and Fraser for Bonne and Dobra, while Palace took off Guaita, Tomkins, Kouyate, Clyne, Tyrick Mitchell and Jairo Riedewald and introduced Jack Butland, Martin Kelly, Marc Guéhi, Joel Ward, Reece Hannam and Luka Milivojevic.
On 63 Ayew curled a shot wide, then seven minutes later Pigott was just unable to direct his header on target having been found by a cross from the left.
Soon after Town swapped Burns and Vincent-Young, who were given a warm ovation by the Blues support, for Jesse Nwabueze and Janoi Donacien, while Palace exchanged the rest of the XI that has started.
On 75 Town withdrew Humphreys following his first taste of senior football and Harper with Fraser Alexander and Matt Healy taking over. Five minutes later, Pigott and Penney made way for Matt Ward and Bailey Clements.
All the substitutions disrupted the game and it wasn’t until the 84th minute that there was another chance, Hladky not convincingly palming over from Street. Following the subsequent corner, the Czech keeper made a better stop from Rak-Sakyi’s strike.
Town swapped centre-halves Nsiala, Town’s man of the match, and Woolfenden for Corrie Ndaba and Albie Armin with fine minutes remaining.
Palace were deserved winners of an entertaining game with the two divisions well in evidence prior to the second-half substitutions. Zaha in particularly proved far too much for the Blues’ backline to handle.
Town went closest via Pigott's second-half effort which struck the post, while Burns forced Guaita into his most significant save in the first period.
The workout against such comparatively stiff opposition will have been good for the Blues, who face Colchester away on Tuesday and Millwall at Portman Road in their final friendly on Saturday.
Town: Hladky, Vincent-Young (Donacien 71), Penney (Clements 80), Nsiala (c) (Ndaba 86), Woolfenden (Armin 86), Humphreys (Alexander 75), Burns (Nwabueze 71), Harper (Healy 75), Pigott (Ward 80), Norwood (Bonne 61), Fraser (Dobra 61). Unused: Holy, Jackson.
Palace: Guaita (Butland 61), Clyne (Ward 61), Kouyate (Guéhi 61), Tomkins (c) (Kelly 61), Mitchell (Hannam 61), Riedewald (Milivojevic 61), McArthur (Wells-Morrison 71), Schlupp (M Boateng 71), Zaha (Banks 71), Mateta (Rak-Sakyi 71), Ayew (Street 71). Referee: Neil Hair (Cambridgeshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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