Crystal Palace Under-18s won their fifth game in a row with an impressively solid performance against West Ham at Little Heath Sports Centre.
- Palace start brightly in search of their fifth win and third clean sheet in a row
- West Ham goalkeeper Serine Sanneh denies Dylan Thisleton from point-blank range
- Half-time: West Ham 0-0 Crystal Palace U18s
- Paddy McCarthy’s side take the lead through an Omilabu penalty (52)
- Hammers substitute Divin Mubama rounds Owen Goodman to equalise (70)
- Palace retake the lead through Fionn Mooney’s stunning curler (80)
- Full-time: West Ham 1-2 Crystal Palace U18s
Crystal Palace – who started the game only behind league leaders Fulham and Aston Villa on goal difference – looked lively from the off, and seconds into the game clever ball retention from Mooney allowed Kevin Gonzalez to chip through to David Omilabu.
The ball was shepherded wide by the West Ham defence, but although Tayo Adaramola outpaced his opposite man down the outside, he lashed his shot from a tight angle into the side netting.
Fifteen minutes in, tenacious pressing from away midfielders Jack Wells-Morrison and Aidan Steele won the ball high up the pitch. Excellent footwork from Gonzalez sent Omilabu away down the left, and after outpacing his marker the lone striker sent a wicked low cross along the six-yard box.
However, home goalkeeper Serine Sanneh blocked bravely wing-back Dylan Thisleton’s initial effort from point-blank range, and the rebound squirted inches wide off Thisleton.
Midway through the first-half, a loose throw-in fell to Hammers striker Kai Corbett, but his low effort from outside the area struck the base of the left post and went wide.
Shortly afterwards, the hosts threatened Palace goalkeeper Owen Goodman’s goal again: forward Jayden Fevrier twisting and turning to make room for a shot, but partly thanks to the attention of defender Cardo Siddik, his powerful drive was parried away by Goodman.
With half an hour gone, Thisleton played a sharp one-two Eagles captain Aidan Steele and accelerated forward, but his driving run unfortunately ended with finding Gonzalez in an offside position.
Just before the break a beautifully weighted through ball from Gonzalez gave Omilabu space to run into, but his left-footed strike was turned away by Sanneh in the last chance of the half.
After the interval another classy pass from Gonzalez towards Omilabu bisected the defence, the striker burst onto it and was brought down in the box by Sanneh, who was subsequently booked.
Omilabu dusted himself off and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot to open the scoring, curling the ball low to the goalkeeper’s right with his left foot.
West Ham began to threaten, and Corbett pounced on an acrobatic clearance from Palace centre-back Dan Quick, but after he found Junior Robinson in the box Quick and Wells-Morrison recovered well to block from close range.
The visitors never lost their attacking threat, and after Mooney danced past two defenders and fed Omilabu, Sanneh saved his shot brilliantly with one hand and Steele couldn’t place the rebound either side of the goalkeeper.
However, it was the hosts to make the next breakthrough: Thisleton slid a back-pass short and replacement Divin Mubama poked it through Goodman’s legs and watched the ball slide over the line, to equalise with the first goal Palace conceded in three games.
Palace retook the lead not long afterwards; Siddik stepped in with impressive timing to halt a Hammers attack in his own box, skipper Steele sent an accurate long ball up to substitute Victor Akinwale, who held it up well. His cute lay-off was met first-time by Mooney, who curled it in off the post brilliantly.
Despite late West Ham pressure, a stoppage-time goal-line clearance from an inswinging corner by Ryan Bartley saw Paddy McCarthy’s Palace side hold firm to win their fifth game in a row.
Palace: Owen Goodman; Dylan Thisleton, Ryan Bartley, Dan Quick, Cardo Siddik (Jesurun Rak Sakyi 78), Tayo Adaramola; Aidan Steele (c), Jack Wells-Morrison; Fionn Mooney, Kevin Gonzalez (Victor Akinwale 62); David Omilabu (Kanye Jobson 90+1).
Subs not used: Joe Whitworth, Lion Bello.
West Ham: Serine Sanneh; Junior Robinson, Iyiola Adebayo (c), Freddie Potts, Michael Forbes, Regan Clayton (George Earthy 66); Archie Woods, Sonny Perkins (Brandon Thomas 73); Kai Corbett, Jayden Fevrier; Gael Kileba (Divin Mubama 45).
Subs not used: Jacob Knightbridge, Remy Coddington.