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Match Reports

U15s Report: Palace crowned Floodlit Cup champions!

3 May 2019

Crystal Palace Under-15s made history tonight in a drizzly Walsall by winning the national Super Floodlit Cup final for the first time ever.

A five-goal thriller saw both sides compete wholeheartedly to be crowned champions, but a late Zion Atta goal in the clash's dying seconds earned the title for the south Londoners, who can look back on a match and tournament with immense pride.

A strong start for both sides, who roamed testingly into one another's half, Palace saw the game's opening chance rear its head as Victor Akinwale held up the ball before playing a fine pass into the path of Atta, who struck a shot cleanly but straight into the body of Owen Mooney.

However it was Wigan who found the back of the net first as a scrappy crowd in the box fought to reach an inswinging free-kick, with Kian Monks the player managing to turn it home.

The opener didn't cause the talented Palace squad to drop their heads though and Darren Powell's side appeared unaffected by Monks' close-range finish. Jadan Raymond looked sharp and kept the Latics on their toes before Akinwale took a deft touch on his thigh and then struck from very close range only to be denied by a strong block from Mooney.

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Unable to capitalise on their pressure, Palace conceded ground to the high-pressing Wigan, who regained their foothold in the game to make the opening 25 minutes a closely fought affair. Eagles shot-stopper Owen Goodman was tellingly forced low into action after Chris Sze unleashed a dipping - if not overly testing - shot at goal.

But the game remained tight, and Wigan's lead seemed a slim one as Mooney hit the deck to prevent Akinwale latching onto a rolling ball in the box, scraping the danger clear with a forceful palm.

Three minutes into added time at the end of the first half, Mooney again fell low to collect possession with Akinwale racing towards him. With the ball running loose from his damp gloves, the Wigan 'keeper could breathe a sigh of relief as the referee blew up for a foul and then, shortly after, for the half time break.

Coming out for the second half, the game remained a finely balanced affair but Palace eventually earned their well-deserved equaliser when Akinwale worked his way along the left wing before sending a deflected cross into the box which Jack Wells did well to steer home with a powerful header from 12 yards.

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As if incensed by conceding, Alfie Devine drove towards the Palace box before unleashing a piledriver of a shot towards goal which Goodman did magnificently well to tip out for a corner. In even more spectacular fashion, Goodman one-upped himself with a breathtaking reaction save to deny Lomax his second from point-blank distance.

But even Goodman wasn't able to keep the Latics out for much longer and just five minutes after pulling themselves level, Palace conceded for the second time. On this occasion, it was Adam Brooks who bagged from the centre of the box before wheeling away to celebrate under the lights of Walsall's Bescot Stadium.

Handed their chance to re-establish the equilibrium, Palace were awarded a penalty when Joe Haley fouled Akinwale in the box. After a delay following a petulant response to the spot-kick decision, Mooney kept his cool among the scrappy disagreements and slotted home strongly to the right of goal.

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With seconds remaining on the clock, Raymond looked for glory as he shot from distance. Deflected, it flew out for a corner. The resulting ball swung dangerously close to goal and forced Mooney to edge it from the line with his fingertips.

All square after 80 minutes, the cup final seemed on the verge of entering extra time but young Atta had other ideas. Racing into the box, the Palace man latched onto the ball once Mooney had pushed it back into space and netted emphatically, winning his club the National Super Floodlit Cup for the first time in their history, his emotional celebrations showing exactly what the feat meant.

Wigan provided a stern test for Powell's young Eagles, but the Crystal Palace lads will return to south London as deserving victors of this national competition.

Palace: Goodman, Lewis Brown, Aderamola, Jobson, Bartley, Sheridan, Raymond, Wells, Akinwale (Adebomi 78), Mooney, Atta.

Subs not used: Rodney, Cowler, Cadman, Ling, Vigor, Bishop.

Wigan: Mooney, Winstanley, Smith, Haley, Robinson, Devine, Lomax, Mariette, Monks, Sze, Brooks, Watson.

Subs not used: Jones, Foirshaw, Timlin, Hughes, Gill, Knowles.

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