The Red Devils succumbed to their first defeat of the 2023/24 pre-season campaign yesterday evening at the hands of Premier League side Crystal Palace. The Reds found themselves four goals down within the first 25 minutes of the match, with England international Eberechi Eze among the goalscorers.
It was a tough start to the match for Scott Lindsey's side, and goalkeeper Corey Addai made an excellent reflex save to deny Jean-Philippe Mateta in the opening exchanges. An inviting cross was drilled in towards the Palace striker, who met the ball with an outstretched boot that looked certain to send the ball into the back of the net. Addai, however, was equal to the effort with an expert reflex save.
Unfortunately, Crawley's good fortune only lasted a few more minutes. Mateta was the goalscorer as the forward towered above the Reds' defence to power a header into the back of the net in the 8th minute. Less than 10 minutes later, Mateta had scored again. The Frenchman drilled an impressive effort into the Crawley net from the edge of the box, with a few faint appeals for offside heard from the crowd.
Crystal Palace's third goal was an excellently worked move that was finished with a great deal of class by Eze. The Premier League side had a long spell of possession in the middle of the park and gradually progressed towards the goal. The ball eventually found its way to the England international on the edge of the box, which allowed the 25-year-old to shift inside of his man and wrap the ball into the top corner. The effort even had Crawley fans up on their feet in applause.
Before Lindsey's side even had a chance to reflect on the third goal, they had conceded a fourth. Naouirou Ahamada was the goalscorer on this occasion. The Frenchman slid an effort under Addai after a neat sequence of play on the edge of the Crawley penalty area.
The Red Devils did have a couple of chances to grab a goal at the end of the half. Danilo Orsi forced a fairly routine save out of Sam Johnstone with an effort from range before Joy Mukena wrapped an effort towards goal that was tipped over the England shot-stopper.
Crawley's best chance of the game fell to Nick Tsaroulla in the 78th minute as the wing-back saw a delightful looping volley crash off of the inside of the post. Kellan Gordon delivered an inviting cross into the Palace penalty area that was only half-cleared by the Eagle's defence. The ball fell kindly to Tsaroulla, who immediately sent the ball looping towards goal. The goalkeeper was well beaten, but sadly the woodwork denied Crawley on this occasion.
The final whistle soon sounded to round off a challenging pre-season test.
Attendance: 5562 (1352 away)