Crystal Palace 2 (Benteke 45, Banks 47) Wolves 1 (Perry 69)
Taylor Perry’s stunning free-kick was not enough for Wolves under-23s to take a point against a Crystal Palace side which was full of experience, in their latest Premier League 2 clash.
Palace named three senior members of their first-team squad in the line-up, with Christian Benteke, Martin Kelly and James Tomkins all starting the contest against a Wolves development team which included a first start for Vitinha following his move to Molineux in the summer.
James Collins’ side were also given a late blow in the pre-match warm-up as captain Christian Marques, who was named among the starting line-up, had to be replaced by Raphael Nya just moments before kick-off.
Despite the chance to their team, Wolves quickly found their feet in the game, keeping possession as they linked play together well to push the Palace defence back towards their own goal.
Owen Otasowie had a good opportunity to put Oskar Buur in on goal, but the midfielder, who worked well down the right flank to get behind the Palace back-line, lifted his cross just above the head of the onrushing Buur.
Stand-in skipper Andreas Sondergaard was forced into his first piece of action just after the 20-minute mark when he got down well to deny Brandon Pierrick who had turned well on the edge of the Wolves box before launching an effort at goal.
Otasowie tried his luck from distance just before the half-time whistle having found space on the edge of the Eagles’ penalty area, but the home team’s keeper Ollie Webber was able to scamper across his goal to keep out the American.
Despite piling pressure on their opposition with some great first-time passing, Wolves fell behind on the stroke of half-time.
After Webber had got down well to palm a goalbound Vitinha effort clear, the hosts broke quickly up the field and the vastly experienced Benteke put the final touches to the counter-attack as he lifted the ball high into the top corner of Sondergaard’s net from 20 yards out.
Having fallen behind just before the break, Palace doubled their lead moments after the restart. Once again, Vitinha had a good opportunity for Wolves, but Palace broke up the other end and after Scott Banks played a neat one-two with Pierrick – despite looking offside when he regained possession – he guided the ball past Sondergaard to make it 2-0.
Although unfortunate to find themselves two goals behind, Wolves closed the gap with just over 20 minutes of the game remaining through the boots of substitute Perry.
Less than 10 minutes after being introduced to the action, the midfielder had a chance with a free-kick 25 yards out from goal, and the Black Country boy didn’t disappoint – curling an unstoppable effort over the wall, beyond the reach of Webber and into the back of the net.
Despite pushing hard to get back into the match, Wolves were unable to test Webber and had to settle for just their second league defeat of the campaign.
James Collins’ under-23s are back at their home ground of Aggborough Stadium in Kidderminster next week and will host Fulham in 2pm kick-off on Monday 2nd November.
01/11 Fulham (H)
06/11 Sunderland (A)
10/11 Doncaster Rovers* (A) EFLT
22/11 Middlesbrough (H)
30/11 Newcastle United (A)
*indicates first-team opposition
Palace: Webber, D. Boateng, Kelly (Baghuelou 71), Tomkins (Tavares 70), Watson, M. Boateng, Woods, Banks, Spence, Pierrick, Benteke (Street 71).
Unused subs: Russell, Flanagan.
Wolves: Sondergaard, Buur, Estrada, Nya, Mayounga, Bueno, Cundle (Perry 60), Otasowie, Vitinha, Shabani (Carty 76), Corbeanu.
Unused subs: Matheson, Scott, Campbell.