Welling United 1-2 Crystal Palace U23
Welling United 1-2 Crystal Palace U23

An entertaining game ended with Crystal Palace’s Under 23 side claiming victory at Welling United.

Scott Banks scored a first half brace for the Eagles but Welling deserved their late consolation through Rowan Liburd.

Brilliant work by Anthony Cook created the first opportunity but a Welling trialist skied over the bar when he should probably have done better.

After that, the visitors took control and Dan Wilks tipped over after Palace won two headers easily. Wilks made a harder save soon after before an overlapping Eagles wing-back fired behind the near post. Their central striker then got in behind but shot wide.

Twenty seven minutes had passed when Crystal Palace went ahead. Banks collected a cross field pass and slotted it beyond Wilks and in off the far post.

Three minutes later, Banks again found space down the left hand side and again slotted home well.

Wilks made another good save for Welling but the Wings had the last chance of the first half when Cook put a free kick wide.

Brad Quinton made nine changes for the Wings at the break and Palace’s goalkeeper made a save from a long range shot from a Welling trialist. The Eagles’ stopper then made a brilliant point blank range save from Liburd before somehow keeping out another one from the Wings’ newly signed striker.

The Palace keeper continued to be the busier when saving a free kick at the near post before tipping a cross-shot over. However, it was not all one way and Welling’s trialist custodian made a brilliant save to put forward his case for a contract.

Brave defending which resulted in a head injury put the outstanding Jay Rich-Baghuelou off as he went for a spectacular overhead kick against his former club and a swift break created another chance but the Palace striker fired over.

Liburd scored Welling’s goal with two minutes remaining. He held off his marker well then powered away before finishing with an unstoppable shot.

After the game, Quinton was keen to talk about his team’s excellent second half performance. “It was a joy to watch.” he said. “We pinned them in their half. I gave them a bit of a kick up the at half time and made the changes and told them that I won’t settle for that. We kept two on and I think everyone was superb second half.

“I called it nil-nil at half time” he continued “and we deserved to win the second half. It’s a pre-season. If you were a neutral you wouldn’t know who was a Premier League Under 23s and, apart from some of them have got stubble, you wouldn’t have told who was the full time team.”

He was less happier about the earlier part of the game and said “In the first half we played some players who haven’t had many minutes yet, some new faces who are learning the game, they’re trialing. This is what it’s about but there was an exceptional talent and I’ll be speaking to him.

“Overall, I’m really, really pleased that we got this friendly over the line. It’s been talked about for quite a long time It’s gutting that we haven’t had fans in the door, but fair play to them. They put a good team out today.”

Signing players and keeping within budgets has been a challenge for Quinton and he has had to manage expectations. “It’s down to the players to accept what this club can afford.” he admitted. “There’s Covid about. It’s tough for every player to want or demand money. What you’re getting from me, you’ll get young talent who can take that opportunity and play for me and progress and move on.”

As players were signing on the dotted line, Quinton said “There will still be some more players to come through the door. We will do some loan deals. It’s right for the club. We’ve signed some more players today. We need to get a few more over the line and I think we will.”

One change of routine that he made was to give some responsibility to other members of his management team. Quinton said “It was the first time for me to sit up in the stand.

“I let both my assistants take the game today although I did give the players a bit of a rollicking at half time. I thought that Monts was very good and Tariq in midfield as well was exceptional. It was a credit to them as they were playing against good opposition. They’ve set the bar now.”

Images courtesy of Dave Budden