Crystal Palace new boys all play 90 minutes in U23 draw with Birmingham City

BY SAM SMITH

New signings Gary Cahill, Victor Camarasa and James McCarthy featured as Crystal Palace’s U23s drew 1-1 with Birmigham City.

The trio each played the full 90 minutes as they continue to prove their match fitness to Roy Hodgson, who watched on from the main stand with his assistant Dave Lewington.

New third-choice goalkeeper Stephen Henderson also played.

Camarasa had three opportunities to open the scoring in the opening 25 minutes. First, his free kick whistled just over before he missed the target with a snap-shot following a corner.

When the Spaniard eventually did hit the target, his header was cleared off the line.

McCarthy – a £3m signing from Everton – played well in a deeper midfield role with Camarasa and Gio McGregor just ahead. Gary Cahill predictably appeared to find this level too easy, playing in central defence alongside Sam Woods.

And it was McGregor whose sumptuous effort gave the young Eagles the lead five minutes into the second half. The 20-year-old received the ball in the left channel, cut inside and curled a wonderful strike into the far top corner.

Camarasa was denied again 20 minutes from time when his 25-yard effort drew an excellent save from the Birmingham goalkeeper.

The Blues’s side was far more inexperienced but did include several players who made their senior debuts in their 3-0 League Cup defeat at Portsmouth last week. One of those was Jude Bellingham, the 16-year-old who became the Championship outfit’s youngest-ever player, but he was nullified by Palace captain Nikola Tavares.

It was against the run of play when they equalised 15 minutes from full-time. Dani Ruiz was played through on goal and his initial effort struck the post. The Spanish striker then collected the rebound and took his time to lift the ball into the unguarded net.

Richard Shaw’s side continued to threaten, substitute Kian Flanagan almost set up James Daly after a great piece of skill on the left, but Palace failed to find a winner.

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