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REPORT: Stevenage 1-2 Crystal Palace

24 July 2018

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A last minute Sullay Kaikai goal meant that Crystal Palace came away from the Lamex Stadium with a 2-1 win as Stevenage suffered their first defeat of pre-season.

Despite that, it was an encouraging performance from Boro as the Premier League visitors were made to look second best for much for the contest. 

Dino Maamria made four changes to the side that beat Coventry 2-0 at the weekend – Wildin, Wilkinson, McKee and Sonupe in for Cuthbert, Nugent, Ball and Revell.

Right from the off it was clear that Stevenage were going to start the game on their own terms. Playing with speed, tempo and purpose, the lofty visitors struggled to get to grips with the game.

Despite that, it was Palace who had the first chance and without Hunt’s timely block at the far-post, it would have been an early lead for the Eagles.

Kennedy’s influence on the game was growing as he ran the visitors ragged down the right hand side during the opening 10 minutes. He saw a left footed shot saved before playing in Sonupe with a deft pass but solid defending saw the chance snuffed out.

On the 16th minute, Boro went ahead. Alex Reid quickest to react inside a crowded box as Stevenage’s pressing caused issues for the defence. A sharp finish from the striker and his third this pre-season.

There were appeals for a penalty on 22 minutes as Sonupe burst into the box only to be seemingly brought down by a Palace man, alas, the referee waved away all protests.

Despite being the sharper throughout the first half, the Eages carved out a couple of opportunities as the half headed for a close. Jason Puncheon forcing a superb save out of Paul Farman low to his right hand side.

With just a few minutes to go, the visitors struck. Johnny Williams with a fine finish from a narrow angle against the run of play to make it 1-1 at the break.

Stevenage made three substitutions at the break as Iontton, Fraser and Vancooten replaced Byrom, Hunt and Wildin. Shortly after Georgiou, Trialist and Campbell-Ryce came into the fold for Sonupe, Kennedy and Timlin.

The first real chance of the second half came through Reid as he headed wide from Iontton’s nod across goal. Reid was then instrumental in the best opportunity for Boro of the second half as he shrugged Kelly off the ball inside the area before squaring for Georgiou, who somehow saw his close range strike kept out by Guaita.

There were more changes on 60 minutes as James Ferry and a Trialist replaced Mark McKee and Alex Reid. By this point only Luke Wilkinson and Paul Farman remained from the starting XI that took to the pitch an hour earlier as Stevenage's grip on the game began to dwindle.

With Palace now on top, they could have taken the lead with less than 10 minutes to go when James Daly came inches away from getting on the end of a fizzing low ball across the box.

Georgiou had the opportunity to take back the lead as he was played in on goal but a well timed tackle meant for a deflected strike that fell wide.

New signing, Will Appleyard replaced Paul Farman during the closing stages to make his first appearance for the club and unfortunately for him, there was little he could do to prevent the winner as Kaikai slid in from a few yards out to give Palace the win.

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