Paddy McCarthy’s Under-18s put in a confident and organised performance on a mild Saturday afternoon in south London to beat struggling Leicester City 1-0, marking their first match at home since becoming a Category 1 Academy in style.
- The Eagles kick-off on the back of consecutive victories, playing their first home game as a Category 1 Academy on a brand new pitch
- Palace start brightly and contain a competitive Leicester spell
- Cardo Siddik heads narrowly wide
- The hosts take the lead through David Omilabu's sixth goal this season
- Half-time: Crystal Palace 1-0 Leicester City U18s
- Leicester again enjoy a briefly impressive spell and Zak Booth comes close to scoring, but Palace shut them out
- Omilabu hits the woodwork as Palace again become the dominant side
- Full-time: Crystal Palace 1-0 Leicester City U18s
In the opening minutes, the home side took the initiative with Tayo Adaramola playing a nice ball down the left flank for David Omilabu to chase, and the pacey No.11 looked to cross towards Victor Akinwale, however Leicester defender Dan Obi cleared well. Clearly, this was a sign of things to come.
In the opening 10 minutes Leicester enjoyed a decent spell of possession without getting close to threatening Joe Whitworth in goal. Following this brief period, Aidan Steele won the ball back and the home side countered through David Omilabu.
Given space to run, the in-form frontman was able to stretch his legs and did so excellently, with Joe Wormleighton, Leicester’s right-back, having to foul the Palace forward in a dangerous position.
From the resulting free-kick, the Eagles had their first major chance as Fionn Mooney lofted a wonderful cross into the box which eluded Leicester's defence, but unfortunately Cardo Siddik’s towering header didn’t quite connect and the ball glanced past Arlo Doherty’s left post.
A while after Siddik’s miss, the away side created their first and only real chance of the opening 45. Terell Pennant dribbled past a pair of Palace players on the left-wing and as he jinked inside he played a reverse ball into Kian Pennant, who dragged his shot wide of Whitworth’s post.
As the half went on the south Londoners grew in confidence and kept the ball well as Leicester sat back, trying to remain in shape. Palace wing-backs Dylan Thisleton and Adaramola stayed high and wide and were too fast for Leicester’s full-backs to handle.
In the 41st-minute McCarthy’s men then made the pressure count as Omilabu scored his sixth goal of the season to put his side 1-0 up. The eventual winner came from Whitworth’s long kick, which the Leicester defenders mistakenly elected to let bounce. Both Omilabu and Akinwale chased the ball as it ran into the box, and the former slotted it inside the near post with great composure.
Palace could have instantly doubled their lead as they won the ball back from kick-off – Mooney fed Akinwale but his resulting shot rocketed into the side netting.
The 1-0 lead at half-time was no less than the Eagles deserved.
The second-half started as the first had ended, with the home side dominating the possession and Mooney and Jack Wells-Morrison did well to fill intelligent spaces between Leicester’s defence and midfield.
In the 52nd-minute Leicester pressed their hosts high and managed to win a corner. This produced their best chance of the game when Palace struggled to clear Terell Pennant’s enticing delivery and Zak Booth’s volley in the six-yard box flew towards the right corner only for Akinwale to head brilliantly off the line.
The home side weathered a short Leicester storm as they looked to capitalise from set pieces, however Palace centre-backs Ryan Bartley, Dan Quick and Siddik were dominant aerially and on a number of occasions the home side countered well off the back of their clearances.
Palace’s best chance of the second-half came in the 77th-minute as Wells-Morrison was fouled within shooting distance. Instead of taking aim, however, the midfielder passed sideways to Mooney, who played a lovely flicked ball through to Omilabu. Unable to replicate his early precision, the striker hit the bar with his right foot and watched the ball fly to safety.
The home side controlled the remainder of the second-half and Joe Whitworth and the Palace defence weren’t troubled much through to the final whistle.
Overall, McCarthy’s Under-18s enjoyed a thoroughly impressive performance; composed in possession, solid defensively and frightening at times on the counter-attack. The win puts another three points on the board as Eagles look to win four straight games next week against Reading.
Palace: Whitworth, Thisleton, Quick, Steele, Siddik, Bartley, Adaramola, Wells-Morrison, Akinwale, Mooney, Omilabu
Subs not used: Goodman, Jobson, Bello, Rak-Sakyi, Gonzalez.
Leicester: Doherty, Wormleighton, Yfeko, Kutshienza, Obi (Cooke, 41) Madivadua (Butterfill, 60) Maswanhise, Cover, Pennant, Booth, Pennant.
Subs not used: Weeks, Stevens, Javid.
Palace's Under-23s are in action against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, 26th October. Find out how to watch them live here!
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