Saints lose pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace

Howard Hall in action on Tuesday night against Crystal Palace. Picture by Bob Walkley

Howard Hall in action on Tuesday night against Crystal Palace. Picture by Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

ST ALBANS CITY fell to an admirable 1-0 defeat against an energetic and powerful Crystal Palace side in a hastily arranged friendly on Tuesday evening.

The visiting side were the sharpest out of the blocks, and controlled the majority of the opening quarter, testing young City goalkeeper Coulton on several occasions. Palace took the lead with 20 minutes gone, when trialist Ben Pattie, who recently broke into the Hemel Hempstead squad after progressing through the academy at Vauxhall Road, received the ball in the box, controlled it, and calmly slotted the ball home past the out-stretched Coulton.

St Albans, soon after falling behind, started to fight their way back into the game, with Bill Lobjoit going close with a free-kick which narrowly drifted past King’s right-hand post, and into the advertising hoardings.

However, in the 44th minute, the South London side should have doubled their lead, when Sekajja, who has made a number of appearances for the Eagle’s first team, was put through on goal, but failed to beat Coulton, who managed to get down low and blocked the forward’s effort with his legs, before the ball was cleared.

The Saints came out the brighter side after the interval, restricting Crystal Palace’s passing play, and started to craft a number of opportunities for themselves, most notably for Matt Taylor, who latched onto Bailey’s chip over the top of the Palace defence, but the midfielder’s powerful effort came crashing off the cross-bar, and away.

St Albans began to make a number of changes after the hour-mark, the most notable of which was the introduction of Ryan Carroll, on for Henry, who has recently been released by Norwich City after being part of their FA Youth Cup side, and has been training recently with the Saints. James Gray and Graham Golds were however forced into a substitution soon after, when O’Leary picked up a knock, and the management duo will be hoping that the battling-midfielder will be fit in time for the opening game away at Poole on Saturday.

Even though St Albans played the better football out of the two sides during the closing stages, Carroll came the closest for the home side before the full time whistle, when his half-volley was saved by King, denying the Saints a deserved equaliser.

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Despite the result, the Saints will be pleased with their performance against a Crystal Palace side which contained a number of player’s not only on the fringes of the first team at Selhurst Park, but also capped at a variety of youth levels for England. The City performance underlined why they are favoured by so many to be fighting at the top of the league come the end of the season.

Saints starting line-up: Coulton; Hall; Eadie; Kaloczi; Wharton; Taylor; Keenleyside; O’Leary; Bailey; Henry; Lobjoit . Saints Subs: Ngoyi; Carroll; Goss; Tajbakhsh; Chappell; Green.

Crystal Palace starting line-up: King; Egbo; Berkely; Ajay; Cowen; Sow; Undumag; H‘Maidat; Kai Kai; Sekajja; Pattie.