Late drama for a second game running saw Crystal Palace Under-18s defeat Chelsea through a David Omilabu brace, the Eagles trumping the Blues twice this season and ending the day top of the league.
- The Eagles seek a second victory over Chelsea this season
- The first half an hour is a quiet affair – with Chelsea pressuring their hosts and Palace seeking to catch them with fast, free-flowing counter-attacks
- Both sides begin creating more chances after 30 minutes
- The Blues’ Joe Haigh hits the crossbar with a 20-yard free-kick before Charlie Webster strikes the post
- David Omilabu nets shortly before half-time to put Palace ahead
- Half-time: Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea Under-18s
- Chelsea pull level through Silko Thomas’ well-taken shot
- The game becomes livelier, with both sides enjoying half-chances
- Palace produce a dominant spell from the 70th-minute onwards
- With just minutes left, Omilabu nets from the spot to claim three points for the Eagles
- Full-time: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea Under-18s
Hosting historically one of youth football’s most dominant forces as their Academy continued construction around them, Palace would make a serious statement of intent by beating Chelsea twice in a season
In the opening minutes, however, the visiting Blues showed their calibre with a driven, high-energy game that saw the ball fizz across Joe Whitworth’s box before flying over his bar shortly after.
Without creating any further real chances of note, two of the league’s top sides probed one another throughout the opening 30 minutes – Chelsea applying steady pressure and Palace threatening with sudden, direct counter-attacks.
Their first shot on target came through different means, though, as Fionn Mooney launched into Teddy Curd’s hands from the edge of the box. With a little less panache, the Blues showcased their own slight frustration at the limited chances by firing an effort well wide from a similar distance.
The Eagles’ approach almost paid dividends as their sharp frontline dispossessed the Blues before David Omilabu tried to squeeze a ball into Victor Akinwale’s path. Had the pass come off, Palace’s No.9 would have been through on goal, however the visiting defence were alert to the threat and managed to force back possession.
After 30 minutes, both sides began creating more regular and urgent chances – with Palace’s Kevin Gonzalez crowded out on the edge of the box and Chelsea’s Lewis Hall striking the side netting.
The half’s nearest misses came around the 37th-minute as Chelsea earned a free-kick from a Mooney foul on Joe Haigh. Dusting himself off to strike from 20 yards, the Chelsea midfielder thwacked the crossbar before, moments later, Charlie Webster worked his way into space and fired against the post.
Chelsea were swiftly punished for these missed chances minutes before half-time as Palace launched a corner into their box. With the ball pinged into the air, Gonzalez secured Palace possession and forced the ball to Omilabu.
With his back to goal, Omilabu juggled it under control before unleashing from eight yards. Shot stopper Curd got both hands to the effort but couldn’t stop it from slipping through, such was its power and proximity.
With the ball just falling into the net, Palace showed a ruthless edge to enter the break ahead.
Perhaps aggrieved by conceding late in such a close half, Chelsea landed a shot on target shortly after returning from half-time, Webster shooting low to Whitworth’s right – with the ‘keeper holding well.
Their determination to pull level paid off within 10 minutes, catching Palace off-guard from a deep throw. Breaking with speed, Silko Thomas stormed along the right-wing, cut inside and fired low into the net from the far edge of the box.
The second-half sustained the tempo the first closed with, producing more regular chances between two teams who perhaps adopted a more open approach to the clash.
This saw Haigh rattle the woodwork again with a curled effort from 18 yards before Omilabu was penalised for fouling Brodi Hughes when almost through on goal.
By the 75th-minute, Palace had well and truly worked their way back into the game and enjoyed several half-chances around the Chelsea box.
Having become the dominant side, the Eagles hunted a winner keenly and, with just minutes left on the clock, found success in their pursuit.
Substitute Maliq Cadogan ran directly at the Chelsea back-line before feeding Tayo Adaramola, who had burst forward on his left. Also looking to attack directly, Adaramola drove goalwards only to be pulled down by Dion Rankine in the box.
Stepping up from 12 yards, Omilabu claimed his second with a cool strike into the bottom-right corner, beating Chelsea for a second time this season and putting Palace clear at the top of the Under-18 Premier League (South).
Palace: Whitworth, Thisleton, Adaramola, Steele, Sheridan, Quick, Gonzalez (Ola Adebomi 90+2), Wells-Morrison, Mooney (Cadogan 76), Akinwale, Omilabu.
Subs not used: Goodman, Ling, Ozoh.
Chelsea: Curd, Gilchrist (Andersson 89), Wiggett, Hughes, Brooking (Rankine 66), Humphreys, Thomas, Webster, Stutter (Castledine 73), Haigh, Hall, Badley-Morgan.
Subs not used: Adegoke.
Stay tuned for highlights of this clash on Palace TV!