BY SAM SMITH
Ray Lewington felt Crystal Palace’s EFL Cup defeat against Bournemouth was useful for giving minutes to players lacking match fitness.
The Eagles lost 11-10 on penalties following a goalless draw, but Ebere Eze, Michy Batshuayi and Luka Milivojevic banked their first full 90 minutes of the campaign.
A back four of Martin Kelly, Sam Woods, Ryan Inniss and Jaroslaw Jach impressed, keeping Bournemouth down to few clear chances. Ultimately, Milivojevic missed the crucial spot-kick in a lengthy shoot-out.
Lewington said: “It was good for those lads [in defence] to play. I don’t think they have ever played together as a four, and I thought they did really good.
“It also gave a game for Luka, who clearly needed a game. In terms of his fitness, he’s way behind other people. And of course Eze and Batshuayi coming in and having their first full games each.
“It ticked a lot of boxes, we would’ve liked to have won – but at least they all got 90 minutes.”
Both sides scored their first 10 penalties before both goalkeepers missed. David Brooks scored for Bournemouth and Asmir Begovic denied the usually reliable Milivojevic.
“There were some fantastic penalties from both sides,” the assistant boss told Palace TV. “I don’t think the goalkeepers could have saved any of the [penalties that were scored].
“But unfortunately we have lost out. Luka, the most reliable penalty taker ever, has missed. But I think fatigue had set in by then.
“I was actually involved in a 15-14 penalty shoot-out when I was with Fulham against Aldershot. It brought back memories of that.”
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