Crystal Palace continued their unbeaten start to pre-season with goals from Jonathan Williams and Sullay Kaikai seeing the Eagles come from behind to beat Stevenage 2-1.
Roy Hodgson selected an XI mixed with first-teamers and academy regulars and was eventually rewarded for the faith he showed with Kaikai’s late winner.
Possibly the biggest headline was the selection of Vicente Guaita, who got his first 90 minutes in a Palace shirt and tasted victory into the bargain. Of course, it would be foolish to put too much importance on pre-season results but alongside that sense of caution, I see no reason not to be happy with the resilience the group have shown in recent weeks.
From a personal perspective, the sight of Jonny Williams getting regular minutes and bagging an impressive volleyed goal along the way warms the soul; leading me to hope that he can finally begin to put his personal injury hell behind him and feature regularly in Roy Hodgson’s match-day squads between now and May.
Whilst Stevenage themselves tinkered significantly with their team throughout the course of the evening, it was lovely to see Sullay Kaikai grab the winning goal late on, following a beautifully directed ball in from the left-hand side courtesy of Jason Lokilo.
The academy graduate who spent time on loan with our south London neighbours Charlton last season has now scored three goals in three games during pre-season, prompting many to suggest that he deserves a shot at first-team success under Hodgson’s guidance. He’s never quite looked ready to make the step up to Premier League level in the past but you cannot fault the performances he’s put in since returning from the summer break.
I’ll never allow myself to get carried away with the ups and downs of a pre-season fixture list but it’s certainly nicer to see the boys getting that winning feeling on a regular basis as we build up to the start of the Premier League season; long may it continue.