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Crystal Palace 0-0 Colchester United
(Colchester United win 5-4 on penalties)
Colchester United belittled their Sky Bet League Two status by knocking Premier League Crystal Palace out of the Carabao Cup vis a successful penalty shootout, this after the Selhurst Park tie had finished goalless after 90 minutes.
Palace boss, Roy Hodgeson – fresh from overseeing a stunning victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford at the weekend – was taking no chances, fielding a strong starting 11 which included Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke and Victor Camarasa. The latter debuting after his loan move from Real Betis.
Nevertheless, the U’s – whose single goal success over Northampton Town gleaned somewhat fewer column inches – gave their loft opponents as good as they got. Dean Gerken expertly dealt with a fizzing attempt from Camarasa. Meanwhile, Palace stopper, Wayne Hennessy, pushed out an angled attempt from Ryan Clampin as the sides exchanged early blows.
Indeed, the Premier League outfit – despite their array of talent – were not having it all their own way as Colchester enjoyed possession and several half-chances as Luke Norris fired over and Luke Prosser found Hennessy’s gloves.
Nevertheless, the Palace threat was evident. Benteke clipped over Gerken, only to see his effort come down off the underside of the bar before it was swept to safety.
Norris tested Hennessey as Colchester remained comfortable and confident immediately after the interval. Palace responded, but Camarasa was high and wide, then Gerken produced a brilliant one-handed save to thwart Benteke as the south Londoners frustrations began to mount.
Hodgson’s concern was clear, the Palace chief throwing Wilfried Zaha into the fray in place of the ineffective Connor Wickham. Nevertheless, it was Colchester who were next to threaten – Ryan Jackson seeing his thumping strike deflected behind – just – by substitute, Gary Cahill.
Benteke was again blocked, while James McCarthy’s low centre eluded everyone as genuine opportunities continued to come at a premium for Palace.
This performance had been a far cry from the U’s League Two form, which – to date – had been inconsistent and often frail. Prosser and Tom Eastman had been steel-like at the heart of the backline, while Frank Nouble offered an outlet as the North Essex side honed in on an unlikely clean sheet and the lottery of a penalty shootout.
Palace pressed deep into stoppage time but Norris and Gerken were on hand to ensure a dramatic finale from the spot.
And the drama wasn’t to end there. Gerken saved from Townsend, while Norris, Nouble, Brown, Cowan-Hall and Chilvers successfully converted to confirm Colchester’s progress and give their vocal travelling support a night to treasure.
Colchester United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, August 31 when they take on Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park (3pm).
Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessy, Scott Dann (Capt), Max Mayer (Jordan Ayew 73’), Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham (Wilfried Zaha 62’), James McCarthy, Victor Camarasa, Martin Kelly (Gary Cahill 46’), Samuel Woods, Jairo Riedewald Subs not used: Stephen Henderson,Cheikhou Kouyate, Nikola Tavares, Nya Kirby.
Colchester United: Dean Gerken, Ryan Jackson, Luke Prosser, Courtney Senior (Paris Cowan-Hall 90’), Luke Norris, Brandon Comley, Tom Eastman, Luke Gambin (Jevani Brown 80’), Ben Stevenson (Noah Chilvers 76’), Ryan Clampin, Frank Nouble Subs not used: Ethan Ross, Ollie Kensdale, Kwame Poku, Cameron James
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Assistants: Mark Russell and Daniel Leach
Fourth Official: Paul Yates
Reaction to follow…..