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      U21s Report: Stunning Fulham strike dents Palace’s push for top spot

      Crystal Palace U21
      Akinwale 25'
      Fulham U21
      Hilton 18'
      Pajaziti 23'

      On a freezing cold Monday evening at Champion Hill, a resilient Crystal Palace Under-21s side were undone by a stunning effort from Fulham’s Adrion Pajaziti.


      • Paddy McCarthy made two changes to the side, with Danny Imray and Noah Watson coming in

      • Matt Dibley-Dias hit the crossbar for Fulham four minutes in

      • Joe Whitworth parried a Callum McFarlane effort onto the post a quarter of an hour in

      • The Cottagers took the lead in the 18th minute directly from a corner

      • Adrion Pajaziti curled in a second for Fulham just five minutes later

      • Palace pulled one back through Victor Akinwale immediately after Fulham’s second

      • Fionn Mooney’s free-kick from 30-yards out just before half-time hit the bar

      • Half-time: Crystal Palace 1-2 Fulham

      • Martial Godo came close for Fulham shortly after the restart

      • Whitworth saved an effort from Callum McFarlane on the hour mark

      • Play was delayed due to an injury to Imray

      • Palace enjoyed a good spell in the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t find a breakthrough

      • Full-time: Crystal Palace 1-2 Fulham

      U21 Match Highlights: Crystal Palace 1-2 Fulham

      Just three days on from the draw with Sheffield United in the Premier League Cup, Palace’s Under-21s were back in League action as they took on London rivals Fulham.

      Manager Paddy McCarthy made two changes to the side, with Danny Imray and Noah Watson coming in for David Boateng and Ademola Ola-Adebomi, indicating a change of shape to five at the back with wing-backs.

      Palace were struggling to get into the game in the opening quarter of an hour. Fulham hit the crossbar just four minutes in with a long-range curling effort from Matt Dibly-Dias, while Joe Whitworth was called into action to parry an effort from Callum McFarlane onto the post a few minutes later.

      The Cottagers made their early pressure count and took the lead through Sonny Hilton. The midfielder scored directly from a Fulham corner, with the ball evading everyone as it nestled in the net.

      Five minutes later, Fulham added a second. Adrion Pajaziti found space in the centre of the park and managed to curl a spectacular effort in from 25-yards out.

      The south Londoners were taken aback by the dominant Fulham start, but managed to pull one back immediately after Pajaziti’s strike. A long ball over the top from Kofi Balmer picked out Imray on the right hand-side, who in turn slid it across the box for Victor Akinwale to finish from close range.

      Momentum swung Palace’s way after halving the deficit. Akinwale was brought down just before the break and Fionn Mooney stepped up to fire a free-kick from 30-yards goalbound. His effort came so close to levelling the score as it cannoned back out into play off the underside of the crossbar.

      After the interval the two sides were going toe to toe in search of another goal. An effort from Fulham’s Callum McFarlane was well-saved and held on to by Whitworth on the hour-mark, while Mooney saw an effort charged down from the edge of the box.

      Imray provided width and a threat down the right-hand side for Palace and came close to providing an equaliser. He cut the ball back across the goal for Tayo Adaramola, who saw his effort on goal blocked, and a follow-up effort from Matty Vigor was turned behind for a corner.

      After a brief delay in play due to an injury to Imray, Palace continued to probe in search of an equaliser. Akinwale couldn’t get on the end of a well-worked Palace move down the left, while astute defending from captain Kofi Balmer and Seán Grehan prevented the visitors from extending their lead.

      It wasn’t to be for Palace, as the referee brought an end to proceedings after three minutes of time added on. The result means that the Under-21s remain in fourth place in the Premier League 2 Division 1, four points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

      Crystal Palace: Whitworth, Imray (Cadogan, 68), Grehan, Balmer, Watson, Adaramola, Vigor (Raymond, 88), Rodney, Omilabu, Akinwale, Mooney.

      Subs not used: Izquierdo, Addae, Bell.

      Fulham: Borto, Henry, Araujo, Robinson, McAvoy, Dibley-Dias, Hilton, Pajaziti, McFarlane (Sanderson, 84), Harris, Godo (Ablade, 84).

      Subs not used: Allen, Williams, De Fougerolles.