Crystal Palace 1 - 2 Chelsea

Last updated : 04 August 2003 By Nik Taylor
Palace's final warm-up before the big kick-off saw them go down by a single goal, but the performance should give plenty of optimism for the new campaign. A hot and humid Saturday saw both sides turn out at full strength, with Chelsea showcasing all five of their new signings. The match was played at a cracking pace, with plenty of chances at both ends throughout.

But, as with PSV before them, the Blues were quick to expose a lapse in concentration at the back for Palace. Mikael Forsell, proving that the curse of the Palace old boy also extends to friendlies, latched onto a loose ball on five minutes and confidently fired past Matt Clarke. 1-0 to the millionaires' club.
With the likes of Geremi, Wayne Bridge and Damien Duff eager to show off their talents to their new manager, Chelsea ran the game for the next half hour. But it was Palace who were to strike next.

A quick free-kick by will-he-won't-he-sign Michael Hughes put Freedman clear, and the Doog drew Palace level with a smart lob over the stranded Cudicini. Palace looked forward to going into their half-time team-talk on level terms, but unfortunately Geremi had other plans. On the stroke of half time, the Cameroon star stepped up to curl a 25-yard free-kick past the despairing Clarke into the top left corner.

So, 2-1 to Chelsea at half-time, and that's the way it stayed. Palace, and espcially Freedman, will feel aggrieved that the tally was not increased at least once. Dougie had three separate one-on-ones in the second-half, with the last of them rolling agonisingly past the far post. However, he looked lively and in promising form for the new season. In fact, good perormances were easy to find in the Palace side. Wayne Routledge can probably add Glen Johnson to his growing list of admirers, after skinning the former West Ham man on more than one occasion. Michael Hughes, meanwhile, will have made Kember even more keen to secure his signature, with a confident and relaxed game in the middle of the park. The match also saw a solid performance by another Wimbledon triallist, centre back Mark Williams, who came on in the second half.

Two defeats in four days does not normally give rise to much optimism. But Palace's play against two sides who will compete in next year's Champions' League has been impressive, if unrewarded. The Eagles prospects continue to improve.