Crystal Palace 2 Blackpool 0: Full report

Armand Gnanduillet holds off  James McArthur
Armand Gnanduillet holds off James McArthur
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As the old saying goes; occasionally you have to be careful what you wish for.

Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer had said he wanted to face as strong a side as Crystal Palace could face in last night’s EFL Cup second round tie.

Palace boss Alan Pardew certainly granted Bowyer his wish at Selhurst Park as goals from Scott Dann and Connor Wickham gave the home side victory.

Rather than use the competition as an excuse to blood his younger players, the Eagles’ boss took the opportunity to blood a couple of debutants.

One, Steve Mandanda, was the French international keeper who arrived on a free transfer over the summer.

The other was Christian Benteke, handed his debut days after completing his move from Liverpool for an initial £27m.

That’s before you take into account Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye, James Tomkins, James McArthur, Martin Kelly, Jordon Mutch, Dann and Jason Puncheon; all of whom were also part of Palace’s starting XI.

The result? A Palace starting line-up which cost in the region of £80m on eight players, as well as two undisclosed fees and Mandanda’s free transfer.

While Palace’s side was packed with Premier League and international experience, Bowyer took the chance to rest and rotate his squad.

Four changes were made from the side which drew with Wycombe Wanderers last time out.

Out went Andy Taylor, Mark Cullen, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Danny Pugh with starting places handed to Will Aimson, Eddie Nolan, Michael Cain and Armand Gnanduillet.

It saw Bowyer opt for a back five with Aimson joining Tom Aldred and Clark Robertson in the middle, while Mellor and Daniel were given wing-back roles.

Nolan joined Jim McAlister and Cain in the centre of midfield with Brad Potts pushed further forward alongside Gnanduillet.

Benteke almost made an immediate impression within the opening 90 seconds, rising to meet Kelly’s looping cross but, fortunately for Pool, his header was comfortable for keeper Sam Slocombe.

That was the forerunner for an opening half dominated almost exclusively by the home side with the Seasiders having to work hard in defence and look to counter where possible.

Puncheon was off target from 25 yards and Mutch headed over with Benteke well placed behind him.

At the other end, Mandanda dealt with Potts’ effort before Palace opened the scoring on 25 minutes.

Townsend’s cross from the left-hand side found its way to Dann beyond the back post; he fired the ball back and it seemed to deflect off Slocombe on its way into the net.

Having suffered that body blow, Bowyer’s men were almost back on terms within three minutes.

Gnanduillet held off the defence but saw his cross cleared as far as Jim McAlister six yards out.

However, the ball came too quickly for him to make proper contact and his prodded effort was cleared off the line by McArthur.

The former Wigan man nearly made it a double cause for celebration just past the half-hour.

Collecting Townsend’s cross, the midfielder saw his effort pushed out by Slocombe and Benteke put the rebound wide.

The striker had another opportunity with half-time approaching but, having controlled Cabaye’s cross, he could only fire wide of Slocombe’s left-hand upright.

That was it for Benteke’s debut as he was replaced at half-time by Wickham, who made an immediate impact.

Seconds after Slocombe had kept out Mutch’s effort at the second attempt, Wickham made it 2-0 by sweeping home Puncheon’s cross via the underside of the bar.

Both sides took the opportunity to use their full complement of substitutes as the game progressed.

Bowyer made a double change just past the hour with Cullen and Mark Yeates introduced for McAlister and Potts.

Unfortunately for the Seasiders, little was seen of them in an attacking sense as Palace were always that yard ahead of them both physically and in possession.

Gnanduillet’s header straight at Mandanda was as good as it got for them after the break with any other goals always likelier to come at the other end.

Wickham saw a close-range effort blocked before Slocombe acrobatically turned behind Townsend’s curling free-kick.

Puncheon sent another effort off target and one of Palace’s three replacements, Wilfried Zaha, forced Slocombe into another stop following some trickery 20 yards out.

Townsend also curled another effort wide and clipped the top of the bar as his one-man quest to find the net ultimately proved unsuccessful.

It mattered not, however, as two goals proved more than sufficient for Palace to run out comfortable winners and Pool to take the lessons learned into their League Two campaign.

Palace: Mandanda, Kelly, Dann, Tomkins, Souaré, McArthur (Lee Chung-yong 61), Cabaye(Zaha 74), Puncheon, Mutch, Townsend, Benteke (Wickham 45); Not used: Speroni, Fryers, Anderson, Boateng

Blackpool: Slocombe, Mellor, Aldred, Robertson, Aimson, Daniel, Nolan, McAlister (Herron 61), Cain, Potts (Yeates 62), Gnanduillet (Osayi-Samuel 70); Not used: Letheren, Taylor, Cullen, Cameron