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      Report & Highlights: Debutants shine as dominant Palace U18s win at Arsenal

      Arsenal U18
      Gower 20'
      Crystal Palace U18
      Umeh-Chibueze 6' 26'
      Marsh 45+3'

      Crystal Palace Under-18s moved up to second in U18 Premier League South following a dominant display to win 3-1 at Arsenal, Franco Umeh scoring a brace on his first start and debutant Dylan Reid impressing.


      • Rob Quinn makes three changes, including debut for Reid
      • Umeh blasts home after five minutes of first Palace start
      • Rio Cardines clips the inside of the post with a free-kick soon after
      • Jimi Gower equalises for Arsenal with cool finish 12 yards out
      • Umeh quickly restores Palace’s lead with a poacher’s finish
      • Reid wins ball high, allowing Agbinone to square for Marsh to finish
      • HT: Arsenal 1-3 Palace
      • Palace start second-half brightly, Agbinone and Joe Gibbard going close
      • Arsenal free-kick flashes across goal as hosts mount response
      • Agbinone forces Cooper into plunging save with shot across goal
      • Hosts mount late pressure but Palace threaten on the break
      • Green heads over from Arsenal corner-kick
      • Maldini Kacurri misses from close range with last kick of the game
      • FT: Arsenal 1-3 Palace
      U18 Match Highlights: Arsenal 1-3 Crystal Palace

      Following a 2-2 home draw with Brighton & Hove Albion last time out, Rob Quinn’s Palace Under-18s’ side had a fresh look about it for the first of two engagements in north London this week, with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur to come on Saturday.

      Full-back Rio Cardines made his return from international duty with Trinindad and Tobago Under-17s, while recent signing Dylan Reid made his Eagles debut in midfield, and there was a first start for fellow January arrival Franco Umeh.

      Their Palace careers could not have got off to a better start. After a dominant opening spell, a throw-in towards Zach Marsh allowed the forward to spin his marker and roll the ball across the six-yard line for Umeh to sidefoot home on his full debut.

      It was early momentum they sustained and, five minutes later, Cardines – from a wide angle on the left – caught Noah Cooper out at his near post with a cute effort. To Cooper’s credit, the ‘keeper managed to turn it onto the post. Scrambling, Ismail Oulad M’Hand did just about enough to prevent Umeh from converting the rebound merely yards out.

      Palace attacks just kept on coming. On the quarter-of-an-hour mark, a cute reverse pass from Asher Agbinone allowed Cardines to check back inside, with only an outstretched Arsenal leg preventing the full-back’s goalbound strike from troubling Cooper.

      Photo Credit: Arsenal FC
      Photo Credit: Arsenal FC

      Lessons can be harsh in Academy football, however, and when Arsenal finally did construct a meaningful attack after 20 minutes, they converted it: Sebastian Ferdinand beat his marker to the by-line and clipped a cross towards the penalty spot which the arriving Jimi Gower coolly placed into the bottom corner to level.

      Palace’s heads did not bow, and they restored their deserved lead just six minutes later. A fine run from Caleb Kporha won Palace a corner-kick which Cardines played deep. Mofe Jemide headed back across goal – and there was Umeh to sweep home from inside the six-yard area, before racing away to celebrate with glee.

      While the rate of chances in the first-half did eventually begin to let up, Palace’s intensity did not, and their consistent high pressing almost resulted in a third. Joe Gibbard’s high interception won a free-kick which Cardines delivered and Cooper spilled, almost presenting Umeh with his third of a stunning first-half, only for the hosts to scramble away.

      An Arsenal side who reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup at the weekend – albeit with six changes to their starting XI – were always likely to pose a threat, and Gower almost grabbed his second on the stroke of half-time with a doubly deflected shot which whistled narrowly past the bottom corner.

      But it was Palace who would score again in first-half injury time, as Reid read a pass out from the back impeccably, feeding Agbinone on the overlap. The No.11 duly squared for Marsh, who took a touch and prodded past Cooper into the bottom corner.

      Palace immediately picked up where they left off at the whistle, a skilful run from Agbinone leading to the forward hitting the side-netting from a tight angle. Seconds later, Umeh pulled back for Gibbard to sweep a finish over the bar.

      Photo Credit: Arsenal FC
      Photo Credit: Arsenal FC

      An end-to-end game led to both sides being presented with opportunities early in the second-half, Arsenal’s Osman Kamara flashing a threatening set-piece across the Palace goalmouth just moments before Agbinone latched onto a loose pass at the back and forced Cooper into a plunging save.

      A fine afternoon for Umeh at the Arsenal Training Centre ended with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, the winger replaced by Basilio Socoliche after appearing to suffer from cramp.

      Yet despite Arsenal mounting a succession of second-half attacks – repelled diligently by centre-backs Jemide and Jake Grante – it was Palace who continued to look the likelier to score on the break.

      Kaleel Green did on one occasion beat Palace goalkeeper Jackson Izquierdo to the ball, but the Arsenal defender made too much contact with the delivery and headed well over.

      A comfortable second-half drew to a close for Palace without too much further incident, save for a close-range miss from Maldini Kacurri with the last kick of the game.

      But Quinn’s side’s dominance was already reflected in an impressive 3-1 away win which made it four games unbeaten for the young Eagles – and moved them up to second in the league.

      Arsenal: Cooper (GK), Nichols, Robinson, Kacurri, Duamina, Ibrahim (Kabia, 64), Ferdinand, Gower, M’Hand, Kamara, Benjamin (Green, 64)

      Subs not used: Okonkwo (GK), Small, Brown

      Palace: Izquierdo (GK), Kporha, Grante, Jemide, Cardines, Reid, Austin, Gibbard (Obou, 69), Umeh (Socoliche, 74), Agbinone (Williams, 90), Marsh (Dixon, 90)

      Subs not used: Eastwood (GK)