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U's Run Palace Close

25 July 2016

Narrow defeat against Premier League opponents.

The U's ran Crystal Palace close on a balmy summer's evening, but lost 1-0 to a fine strike.

An early Jordon Mutch goal earned the win for the Eagles but the U's almost got a late leveller. Tom Eastman had the chance, in the last minute, but blazed over from close range.

The game was as close as the score suggested, with just Southend to come before the U's start the season itself.

The game started with Palace looking to build patiently and then try and get Bolasie and Townsend on the ball in wide areas.

The latter got the first chance to run at the U’s defence but he was fouled by Prosser, and the free kick was headed over by Scott Dann.

The U’s had a chance of their own a minute later, Doug Loft being denied after a clever short corner routine involving himself and Sammie Szmodics.

A good move by the visitors’ attacking players saw them take the lead on nine minutes, when Wickham and Puncheon combined to set up Jordon Mutch.

The Palace midfielder stepped onto the set back by Puncheon and lifted his effort expertly into the top corner off the underside of the bar.

A lull in the proceedings followed, with neither goal threatened until the twentieth minute.

A scramble in the Palace box was defended unconvincingly but the visitors managed to break and Lewis Kinsella had to be alert to block a Townsend cross.

The U’s went close two minutes later, when Chris Porter hit the post and then Palace were able to block the rebound from Alex Wynter.

Porter then intercepted a poor pass out of defence but Szmodics wanted too much time and was dispossessed before he could move the ball onto his right foot.

The U’s youngster then snatched at a shot from twenty five yards out, as the U’s were more than matching their more illustrious opponents.

Full back Zeki Fryers got in on the act on the half hour mark, shooting just wide from distance.

Doug Loft went even closer for the U’s from a free kick, hitting the outside of the side netting with his effort.

Loft then got on the end of a Porter pass and his run ended with a shot straight into the midriff of Palace stopper Alex McCarthy.

That was the last goalmouth action of the first half, a half that saw the U’s grow in confidence as their realised they could compete on equal terms.

At the start of the second half, Sam Walker had to be alert at his near post and was - pushing a Bolasie effort wide.

The next effort at goal came from the U’s, with Brennan Dickenson curling his free kick just wide after Szmodics was fouled on the edge of the box.

Szmodics then had the best U’s chance so far but could only put his sidefooted shot wide of the target.

A ball into the box saw Porter head down, it fell to the U’s youngster ten yards out but he couldn’t guide his shot into the corner.

On seventy minutes, John McGreal made eight substitutions – Barnes, Johnstone, Eastman, Sembie-Ferris, O’Donoghue, Slater and Guthrie entering the fray.

There wasn’t any action in either penalty area for the next ten minutes, and then the U’s box introduced the next three substitutes Kent, Vincent-Young and Bonne.

And it was Bonne who got into the game the most, with a flicked header deflected for a corner and then volleying over from the resultant set piece.

It was the U’s who were finishing stronger, and Slater was next to have a go at goal.

His free kick on eighty eight minutes took a slight deflection off the wall and flew just past the far post.

That was close but the U’s had a better chance bang on time though, with Eastman volleying over from five yards out after Johnstone had headed back into the danger zone.

It would have given the U’s a draw, a result that they probably deserved with the amount of chances they created after Mutch had scored the Eagles’ early goal.

The next test for the U’s is on Saturday, when they travel to Roots Hall to take on Southend in their final friendly before the season itself kicks off on August 6th at Hartlepool. 

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