BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace were beaten on penalties by League Two Colchester United after an embarrassing performance at Selhurst Park finished in a goalless draw.
Victor Camarasa started brightly on his Eagles debut, stinging the palms of goalkeeper Dean Gerken before almost teeing up Christian Benteke, but very quickly faded in a lethargic team performance.
This was an experienced Palace side but they were the inferior team in the first half. Wayne Hennessey was called into action with a fierce strike from the edge of the penalty area and was fortunate that his save just evaded the run of Frank Nouble, who would have been on hand to convert. Hennessey then made a more routine stop to deny U’s captain Luke Prosser.
The South Londoners were disjointed but threatened to score on the rare occasions they advanced forward. Benteke was put through on goal slightly prior to the half-hour mark and beat Gerken, but his dinked effort struck the bar and bounced just in front of the line – despite the protestations for a goal.
Roy Hodgson handed a full debut to defender Sam Woods and the 20-year-old almost scored his first senior goal slightly after half-time. Woods stabbed goalwards from close range and Gerken made a remarkable save to prevent the makeshift right-back – whose more natural position is at centre-back.
Hennessey had to bail out the youngster soon after when Woods’ loose header back to the Welshman almost found the feet of Nouble. With six minutes remaining, the Colchester striker almost teed up Ben Stevenson, only for James McCarthy to make an important interception.
In terms of goalmouth action, that was as good as this largely forgettable affair produced. In the resulting penalty shoot-out, Noah Chilvers sent the visitors through to the third round after Andros Townsend was the only player to miss.