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      Report & Highlights: Plange pounces to put Palace through in PL Cup

      Ipswich Town U21
      Crystal Palace U21
      Plange 55'

      Luke Plange’s well-taken goal was enough for Crystal Palace Under-21s to top their Premier League Cup group with a 1-0 win away at Ipswich Town.


      • Rak-Sakyi returns as one of three changes
      • Farquhar starts for Palace debut, Ozoh also comes in
      • Win or draw guarantees Darren Powell’s side progression
      • Tetchy start with teams cancelling one another out
      • Palace’s first effort on 37 minutes sees Umeh head wide
      • Plange unable to make clean contact with Imray’s cross on the stroke of half-time
      • HT: Ipswich 0-0 Palace
      • Diving block from Sheridan denies Ipswich’s Carr
      • Watson clears Ayinde effort moments later
      • Spectacular Devenny free-kick hits the post as chances keep on flowing
      • Whitworth produces brilliant save from Ayinde to keep scores level
      • Direct attack sees Plange give Palace the lead
      • Umeh whips near-post effort wide
      • Chances dry up but Palace retain control
      • Foyo bends wide and Mazionis hits the top of the bar but Palace hold firm
      • FT: Ipswich 0-1 Palace
      Premier League Cup Highlights Ipswich Town 0-1 Crystal Palace

      Palace’s final match in Group H presented an intriguing proposition: the Eagles topped the pool with nine points ahead of kick-off, with Ipswich in second (and hence due to qualify) on seven – but Birmingham and Middlesbrough close behind on six. As a result, all four teams, facing off at the same time, were able to qualify.

      As a result, the Eagles knew that either a win or a draw at a blustery Bloomfields, home to Needham Market FC, would see them advance – and even a defeat could see them progress. The onus was therefore on the hosts to win.

      Palace were further bolstered by the return of Jesurun Rak-Sakyi to match action, the 21-year-old on his way back from a hamstring injury and playing for the first time since October. New arrival Craig Farquhar and midfielder David Ozoh also came into the side.

      One of the greatest advantages of the Premier League Cup is the exposure it offers young footballers to a different type of fixture – knock-out football – and, true to form, the first-half of this final group-stage game was light on chances.

      In truth, the powerful gales had perhaps the most salient influence on the opening half, as Palace kicked against the wind in the opening half and Ipswich – making the most of the prevailing – went on the aerial offensive.

      High balls into the box tested the bravery of Joe Whitworth in Palace’s goal, and Farquhar’s neck muscles in the box, but both passed with flying colours.

      Sadly, however, Rak-Sakyi’s return lasted only 23 minutes, the winger going down and needing to leave the field of play early. It was not the first such stoppage for either side, with Ipswich also forced into a change moments later – and a number of other minor breaks in play robbing the game of any momentum.

      It took 37 minutes for either side to have a real chance, and it fell to Palace. Farquhar launched a long throw into the box which was half-cleared back to him, and his dinked cross into the box found Franco Umeh – unaware of his surroundings – whose instinctive header hit the side-netting.

      There’d be one final chance in the first-half, deep into seven additional minutes, when a long ball forwards from Farquhar was flicked on by Jadan Raymond to Danny Imray. The right-back carried the ball a long way before flashing a cross into the six-yard area but Luke Plange, sliding in, could not make clean enough contact to push the ball over the line.

      After a half of only four shots between the two teams, the second-half could hardly have stood in starker contrast – the chances free-flowing for both teams in the 10 minutes after the interval.

      It was Ipswich, needing to win at that point, who came out for the second-half the stronger.

      Only a brilliant diving block from Joe Sheridan denying Leon Ayinde six yards out, before Rio Oudnie-Morgan’s hooked rebound trickled wide of the far post; Noah Watson had it covered. A minute later, Watson was on hand to divert away a fizzing effort from Ayinde inside the box.

      Up the other end Palace went and after Ipswich conceded a free-kick for handball, Justin Devenny whipped an outstanding direct effort – from fully 30 yards – firmly against the upright.

      The chances kept flowing – and the next fell to Ipswich who, winning the ball high and engineering a three-on-two in front of goal, saw Ayinde denied by a spectacular one-handed save from Whitworth, who stood tall as the attacker bared down on goal before pushing his shot over.

      It was a turning point, as moments later, Palace took the lead – a classic ‘route one’ goal. Whitworth’s goal kick picked up speed in the wind and was headed on by Umeh, setting Plange racing in on goal – and he placed an accurate finish across goal on his left foot.

      The action did not let up, and Palace maybe ought to have been two to the good moments later, but Umeh was unable to fully wrap his foot around Raymond’s pull-back; the ball, admittedly, had bobbled up off the turf.

      It was only then that either team could take a moment to breathe – and indeed, a goal to the good and needing just a draw to advance, Darren Powell’s team managed the remainder of the half well.

      The closest Ipswich came was when Osman Foyo – who had scored twice against Palace in the reverse fixture – advanced on the box and bent an effort narrowly wide of the post, before Jokūbas Mažionis headed the subsequent corner onto the top of the bar.

      The win saw the result of the other game prove irrelevant to Palace, who got the job done in tough conditions; a 1-0 win to top Group H and advance to the Premier League Cup Round of 16.

      Palace: Whitworth (GK), Imray, Sheridan, Farquhar, Watson, Devenny, Ozoh (Reid, 61), Umeh, Raymond (Rodney, 74), Rak-Sakyi (Wells-Morrison, 23), Plange.

      Subs not used: Izquierdo (GK), Mathurin.

      Ipswich: Binns (GK), Jambang, Barbrook, Mazionis, O’Connor, Carr (Foyo, 62), Turner, Newbueze (Oudnie-Morgan, 41), Roberts, Ayinde, Buabo (Boatswain, 45).

      Subs not used: Cullum (GK), Taylor.