Eagles start US tour with victory

Croydon Guardian: Gap in defence: Clinton Morrison finds space inside the box before he is hauled down by the hosts' keeper for a penalty Pic: Neil Witherow Gap in defence: Clinton Morrison finds space inside the box before he is hauled down by the hosts' keeper for a penalty Pic: Neil Witherow

Crystal Palace USA 1
Kokovic 30 Crystal Palace 1
Bothroyd 11, Grabban 34, Black 47

Crystal Palace continued their 100 per cent start to their pre-season programme with a comprehensive victory over Crystal Palace USA at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.

New Eagles boss Peter Taylor fielded two seperate teams in each half but it did little to upset Palace's momentum.

Trialist Jay Bothroyd, Lewis Grabban and Tommy Black bagged the Eagles goals against their American counterparts, who were made up of US players from local College sides, plus a number of University of Maryland players who are the current Champions of their League.

Both sides had early chances. Grabban beat the offside trap but fired straight at the keeper on four minutes, while at the other end, Derek McElligott shot narrowly wide before Maurice Edu brought out the best in debutant Scott Flinders in the Palace goal.

The deadlock was broken on 11 minutes when Bothroyd shot home from 15 yards from the left side of the box.

The goal fired up the Americans who were guilty of some poor tackles from behind, including one shocker from Edu which left Rhoys Wiggins unable to continue.

While Palace were down to 10 men, the Marylanders equalised on 30 minutes through Rade Kokovic, with a fine rasping snapshot from distance which gave Flinders no chance.

But their joy didn't last long, as Palace stepped up a gear. Michael Hughes ended a mazy run with a stinging shot that hit the upright. A nice combination between Grabban and Bothroyd almost paid off, but moments later Grabban scored the Eagles second, racing clear to slot home on 34 minutes.

After the wholesale changes at the break, the second half Eagles continued where they left off when they made it 3-1 two minutes after the restart.

Danny Butterfield floated a deep cross from the right in the direction of Clinton Morrison, only to see Tommy Black rise at the near the post to direct a flying header past keeper Chris Seitz.

It was the outstanding form of Seitz and centre-half Marcus Gross that stopped Palace running up a bigger score.

With Mark Kennedy and Tom Soares assured in the middle, Dougie Freedman and Tommy Black were allowed to run free down the flanks.

Palace even spurned a penalty on 54 minutes when Morrison was sent tumbling by a clumsy challege from the keeper. Freedman struck the ball low to his left, but too close to the keeper, who made yet another fine save.

The Academy side were restricted to two second half chances which both struck the woodwork. Richard Costanzo's effort hit the bar and Kokovic ballooned over the rebound. Late on, a defensive header from Morrison also struck the bar, before beinscrambled away to safety.

Taylor revealed he was pleased with the run-out and will persevere with playing two different teams in each half against LA Galaxy on Wednesday.

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