Crystal Palace open pre-season with big win at Lewes
CRYSTAL Palace recorded a comfortable 5-1 victory at non-league Lewes in their first pre-season friendly on Friday evening.
Goals from new striker Aaron Wilbraham, former Everton forward Jose Baxter, Wilfried Zaha, Bayan Fenwick and Jermain Easter were enough to defeat the spirited hosts, who walked away with a good 90-minute workout ahead of their Ryman Premier campaign.
A healthy crowd of just under 1,000 spectators were at The Dripping Pan stadium in East Sussex to see the majority of Dougie Freedman's squad, including a first glimpse of Wilbraham in attack.
And trialist Baxter, who has been training with the Eagles following his release from Goodison Park, lined up in a central midfield role, while former Queens Park Rangers defender Peter Ramage was in central defence alongside captain Paddy McCarthy.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Another trialist on show for the Eagles came in the form of 20-year-old Chilean defender Tomas Diaz, who had a trial at Manchester City earlier this year and has played for Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium's third division.
New signing Joel Ward was at right-back, while Kieron Cadogan was in front of him on the wing.
It was one-way traffic as early as the third minute as Palace controlled early proceedings, which saw Kwesi Appiah have the first chance of the match with a glancing header over the crossbar.
Zaha forced a good save from Lewes goalkeeper Kieron Thorp, but moments later the custodian was lucky to get away with a mistake when he failed to deal with a cross from the right, and Appiah sent a fierce shot from 12-yards, which skimmed the top of the crossbar.
Wilbraham was inches from grabbing the opener shortly afterwards when, with his back to goal, he turned on the ball and sent a shot just the post following a short corner routine.
Lewes battled, but Palace's quality shone through as Zaha forced another good stop from Thorp, before the academy product nearly opened the scoring in fine style with a dipping shot from 20-yards out just over the bar.
The lively Appiah found himself through on goal down the left midway through the half, but the former Margate striker's shot was palmed away by Thorp and Cadogan couldn't convert the rebound from close range.
However, Palace's pressure paid off as Wilbraham grabbed his first goal in Palace colours with a fine finish into the bottom corner after he found himself in acres of space 12-yards out following a through-ball.
Just after the half-hour mark, Baxter doubled the Eagles' lead. Good play down the right saw a ball played back to the 20-year-old on the edge of the box, and his goal-bound shot took a slight deflection on its way in.
Freedman's side were good value for their lead, and they put the icing on the cake for a good first-half performance thanks to a third goal, this time from Zaha, who shot low through Thorp's legs inside the box.
The Palace boss made eleven changes for the second-half, which saw the likes of Dean Moxey, Jon Williams, Stuart O'Keefe and Ibra Sekajja enter the fray.
However, Lewes gave themselves a glimmer of hope shortly into the second period when Layton Schaaf rifled in a fierce shot from inside the box.
Palace nearly grabbed their fourth of the night when Easter turned on the edge of the box and saw his shot come back off the post to Glenn Murray, but the frontman could not direct the rebound on goal.
The Eagles were still in control and they did grab a fourth of the night thanks to a good finish from Fenwick.
The lively Sekajja beat Lewes' right-back on the left, before delivering teasing ball across the six-yard box, and with nobody able to make a connection, Fenwick stormed in at the back post to send a powerful shot beyond Thorp and a couple of defenders on the goal-line.
And Easter wrapped up a comfortable victory with a stunning fifth for Freedman's men, sending a volley beyond substitute goalkeepr Pawel Szelemej into the far corner.
Palace make the short trip to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday evening next week on the back of a good warm-up and result in East Sussex, and a number of squad players are expected to feature again.
Palace starting XI: Price, Ward, Parsons, McCarthy (c), Ramage, Garvan, Baxter, Zaha, Wilbraham, Appiah, Cadogan.
Second-half included: Moxey, Fenwick, Diaz, Williams, Murray, Easter, Martin, O'Keefe, Sekajja, Sow.