Crystal Palace played their first friendly of the 2017/18 pre-season yesterday afternoon, with a hugely youthful side running out 3-1 winners against Maidstone United.
With Frank de Boer and the majority of Palace’s first-team squad all set to fly off to Hong Kong for a summer tournament today, the Duthman’s first official game in charge of the Eagles saw him field a team made up almost entirely of our U23 side, with one noticeable exception in the shape of the aforementioned Jordon Mutch.
We took the lead, as expected, midway through the opening 45 minutes, only for Maidstone to level the scores up with a wonderfully flighted free-kick shortly after. Whilst some may have been a tad concerned, Mutch took matters into his own hands once again before the interval, slotting home an effort from the edge of the penalty area to restore the Eagles’ lead after some lovely build-up play from the team.
The second half was somewhat less eventful, with only one more goal coming, courtesy of Jacob Berkeley, who finished cooly inside the penalty area, after some intricate play through the centre of the Maidstone midfield to set up the chance initially.
Whilst it’s always difficult to read too much into games of yesterday’s nature, Frank de Boer will no doubt take heart from the fact that such a young team were able to come through a pre-season clash with such little fuss. Although he has spoken about his hopes of bringing plenty of youngsters into the first-team during his time at Selhurst Park, it’s known to be an incredibly difficult task for Premier League bosses, making yesterday’s experiment all the more exciting.
There have been or two grumbles from fans about the lack of depth seen in the squad that’s set to travel to Hong Kong today but with plenty of academy products selected to make the trip to Asia, we will probably see de Boer experimenting more than most of his recent predecessors, in the hope of uncovering the next first-team star.
Yesterday’s display was certainly an encouraging start. Let’s hope it’s just the beginning of Frank’s youthful revolution.