Premier League 2
Crystal Palace F.C
Spence 33 (pen), 43, 59, Gordon 61
Soto and Sitti feature as City U23s suffer defeat at Palace
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Sebastian Soto and Melvin Sitti featured as Norwich City's U23 suffered a 4-0 defeat to Shaun Derry's young Crystal Palace side in South London.
An impressive hat-trick from Palace captain Sion Spence was enough to ensure the Eagles recorded three points against a City side that lacked defensive solidity.
Sitti, recently recalled by the Canaries from his loan spell at Waasland-Beveren, started in midfield and showed his class in spells. Despite some combative moments, the 20-year-old was unable to prevent the hosts from scoring four goals.
The Canaries did have two trialists in their starting XI, with former Cork City and Preston North End striker Connor Simpson partnering Soto in attack.
Simpson is a tall, powerful striker and was aerially dominant during the opening period before being replaced at half-time as David Wright changed shape to a 4-3-3.
Oliver Southern, formerly of Crewe Alexandra, played alongside Sitti in midfield. He has made seven appearances for National League North side Curzon Ashton this season but was at fault for Palace's third goal.
City's best chance of the game arrived in the first-half. Some good play from Soto sent Rob Nizet galloping down the left. His pass to ex-Arsenal winger Matthew Dennis created some space for him to shoot, but he saw his deflected effort pushed over the bar by Jacob Russell.
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The opening goal arrived as Dennis chopped down the lively Harlem Hale inside the area. Spence stepped up and converted the spot-kick, smashing it down the middle, comfortably beating City keeper Joe Rose.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson watched on as his youngsters put the Canaries to the sword, and Spence had his second before half-time.
Trialist Danny Imray combined with Hale before delivering a low cross into the box. The ball evaded three City defenders, allowing Spence to tap into the net from close range.
City changed shape at half-time, with Simpson replaced by Reece McAlear, with ex-Palace player and City coach Wright electing to play Soto in a lone striker role.
Despite more possession, the Eagles added a third when Southern's loose pass was seized upon by Hannam. His cross was volleyed home superbly by Spence to secure his hat-trick.
Another defensive error, this time from McAlear, saw John-Kymani Gordon go through on goal. He calmly rounded Rose before slotting into the net.
Palace defender Jay-Rich Baghuelou saw red late on, but City suffered their second consecutive defeat in the Premier League 2.
Crystal Palace U23s (4-2-3-1): Ja Russell; Imray, Watson, Baghuelou, Hannam; Taylor, M Boateng; Hale (Rak-Sakyi, 77), Spence (D Boateng, 85), Matthews; Gordon (Akinwale, 73) Subs not used: Whitworth, Ju Russell
Goals: Spence (33, 41, 60) Gordon (62)
Bookings: Baghuelou (9), Hale (40)
Red cards: Baghuelou (90)
Norwich City U23s (4-4-2): Rose; Vaughan (Kamara, 68), Tomkinson, Lomas, Nizet; Dennis (Thomas, 68), Sitti, Southern (trialist), Giurgi; Simpson (trialist) (McAlear, 45), Soto. Subs not used: Blair
Bookings: Vaughan (9), Sitti (10)
Referee: Daniel Lamport