Sears completes an hour as U23s soar to victory over Eagles
Freddie Sears continued to step up his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury as Town U23s beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Playford Road this afternoon.
The Blues forward played an hour, while Ben Morris, who has also been sidelined with an ACL injury, completed 90 minutes in what was just his second game in 10 months.
Armando Dobra and Barry Cotter were on target for Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg's side, who climbed above Palace in the Professional Development League Two South table following the three points.
Despite Town starting on the front foot, it was the away side who took the lead in the seventh minute. Jason Lokilo had time and space near the right side of the box and made no mistake with a fine finish beyond Adam Przybek into the far bottom corner of the net.
But, just eight minutes later the hosts equalised. Dobra and Ben Folami combined on the edge of the Palace area, with the former then slotting the ball into the bottom corner after a fortunate touch off an Eagles defender.
Chances were few and far between for most of the first half, but just before the break Folami's header landed into the path of Sears, who broke away from his man and almost produced the finish but for the left leg of Palace shot-stopper Dion Curtis-Henry.
Just two minutes after the break Town almost took the lead. Morris produced a fine low cross from the right, but Sears' strike from a very narrow angle hit the side netting.
Sears then turned provider as he dinked a teasing ball on to the penalty spot, but Idris El Mizouni's header bounced off the crossbar.
The hosts did find their second 18 minutes from time, though, as El Mizouni picked out Cotter with a corner. Cotter darted for the front post with perfect timing before volleying the ball with his right foot past the 'keeper and into the back of the net.
In the 80th minute he came close to replicating his goal, again from an El Mizouni corner, but Curtis-Henry was able to save with a strong left arm.
The win is the U23s’ first in four attempts as they leapfrog Palace into eighth place in the Professional Development League Two South table with 14 points.
The Young Blues are next in action when they travel to Charlton on 6 January 2020.
Town: Przybek, Ward (T), McGavin, Ndaba, Cotter, Hughes (K Brown 83'), Dobra, El Mizouni, Morris, Folami, Sears (Smith 61'). UnusedL: Alley, Scott, Gibbs.
Pics: Ross Halls