A young Crystal Palace side overcame a difficult challenge in National League side Bromley on Tuesday evening, winning 2-1 thanks to Sullay Kaikai’s double.
The young Eagles winger shone in the victory and opened the scoring midway through the first half with a trademark clinical finish inside the penalty area after some neat wing play from Chung-yong Lee. He then increased his side’s lead with a delightful 25-yard free-kick which went in via the post.
Lillywhites striker Daniel Akajaiye pulled a goal back with just five minutes remaining but it was too little too late for Neil Smith’s side, who begin their campaign on Saturday against Tranmere Rovers.
Youthful side blended in with a number of fringe first team players
Despite the young side, first team boss Alan Pardew took charge of the team to take a look at the club’s best young players.
Martin Kelly captained the Eagles and was joined by fellow first team pair Lee and Jonathan Williams – making his second Palace appearance since featuring for Wales at Euro 2016.
Kaikai double gives Palace first-half lead
Kaikai’s experience on loan at Shrewsbury Town last season has appeared to seriously aid his development as well as his maturity, which was clearly on show in the first half at Hayes Lane. The winger managed to hold onto the ball in tight areas and produced a performance akin to that of fellow academy graduate Wilfried Zaha.
One thing which Zaha is criticised for is his finishing, however, this is an attribute that Kaikai has in abundance. With just over 20 minutes on the clock, he expertly guided an effort into the net following great trickery from Lee out wide which was eventually chested into the path of Kaikai by Williams.
Williams, who starred for the Dragons in France this summer, then won a free-kick 25 yards from goal which Kaikai confidently stepped up to take. It was certainly clear why confidence seemed to shine throughout the youngster as his effort flew into the top corner via the inside of the post.
Kaikai, who was withdrawn after 70 minutes, will certainly feel that he has done enough to earn a place in Pardew’s 25-man squad for the forthcoming season, although another loan spell at a Football League club would be a more sensible option. The winger would certainly benefit from playing every week, which is something that the Palace first team cannot offer, particularly with the current depth of wide options.
It was Kaikai who was once again involved soon after his free-kick, squaring the ball to striker Freddie Ladapo who had a gaping goal in front of him but somehow managed to fluff his lines from no more than eight yards out.
Second half sees Palace waste several chances whilst Bromley score consolation
A second-half ridden with more substitutions than goalmouth action certainly did not live up to the excitement of the first 45 minutes, although Palace will feel that the score line should have seemed much more comfortable.
Substitutes Keshi Anderson – who scored in the first team’s 3-1 defeat to Fulham at the weekend – and Sam Woods both went close, while Ladapo should have at least hit the target when he went one on one with Bromley goalkeeper Alan Julian.
However, the home side were able to make the score line look slightly less emphatic when substitute Akajaiye slid in to convert a cross after some lacklustre Palace defending.
In all, Pardew will be happy that the first team players who took part came through unscathed, while he will also be able to ponder which young players will be used over the course of the season.