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Report: U23s overcome by resilient Liverpool in close-fought clash

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2
Woltman 19'
Gordon 90+2'

Crystal Palace Under-23s were defeated by a resilient Liverpool team on Monday afternoon, as the Reds led their hosts through a close-fought game until Kaide Gordon doubled their advantage in the dying seconds.

Summary

  • Paddy McCarthy fields five first-team players in his side, and Liverpool also name a strong team

  • Palace create the game’s first and best chance shortly before the 20-minute mark when Nathaniel Clyne finds Rob Street in the box

  • Liverpool respond almost immediately and take the lead when Max Woltman turns home in the box

  • Remi Matthews saves Kaide Gordon’s penalty moments before half-time

  • Half-time: Crystal Palace 0-1 Liverpool Under-23s

  • Jesurun Rak-Sakyi tests goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga from the right of the box, but sees his effort saved

  • Palace are the stronger side in the second-half but cannot work their way back

  • Gordon adds a late second to kill any hopes of a fightback

  • Full-time: Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool Under-23s

Crystal Palace Under-23s’ Liverpool clash saw the likes of former Red Nathaniel Clyne and Nathan Ferguson line-up against Kaide Gordon and Tyler Morton, who were part of the visiting squad at Selhurst on Sunday.

So it was a game replete with experience for this level, and that equal calibre showed itself in the well-matched football, despite some early miscued chances and the occasional misplaced pass.

It pitted two teams that closely reflected the top-flight meeting between Palace and Liverpool just the day before, with the hosts looking to build from the back and the visitors sitting in a clear 4-3-3 and attempting efficient attacks.

Initially neither approach bore fruit and both ‘keepers’ jerseys remained unspoiled. But then the game kicked into life with an offensive – one successful and the other not – from each side.

Palace were first, with Nya Kirby impressively feeding Clyne to run up the wing. The full-back duly obliged and burst forward, crossing the ball to a crowded box. It struck a visiting defender before reaching Rob Street, who reacted quickly but couldn’t land his shot on target.

Liverpool were then dealt their chance a minute later, also attacking from the right flank, but with Max Woltman able to turn home Leighton Clarkson’s squared low ball.

Palace’s threat continued to come from the right, where Clyne looked lively and supported several attacks. The south Londoners kept their guests clustered around their own box for a spell on the half-hour mark and seemed to have grown in confidence from doing so.

But for all their pressure – which was unrelenting – the home side could not trouble Marcelo Pitaluga in goal. The young Brazilian was eventually forced into action after the ball pinged around his box from a corner; it flew from boot to boot before falling to Martin Kelly, who span it at the ‘keeper from close range.

That save and otherwise assured defending meant the visitors weathered Palace's storm, going on to earn a penalty moments before half-time.

Gordon, the 17-year-old recently part of Jürgen Klopp’s first-team squad, chopped with the ball before bursting to the byline, where Tayo Adaramola was adjudged to have fouled him.

The young winger dusted himself off to take the resulting spot kick, but Remi Matthews leapt athletically to his left to keep the effort out.

The second-half began as equally balanced as the first, with few chances created early on. Palace may have felt they had a penalty claim of their own when Rob Street hit the turf in the box, however the referee correctly decided the visiting defence played within the rules.

Liverpool worked hard to protect their lead, shutting down Palace’s attempted counter-attacks. Jesurun Rak-Sakyi perhaps thought he’d found a way through when Kirby fed him in the box, however his forceful effort from the right of the area was well met by Pitaluga.

The shot stopper was forced into action again later to deny Street, this time getting a powerful glove to the forward’s effort after he broke through the backline. Kirby won back possession from the rebound but further last-ditch defending, from Jarell Quansah, prevented him from pulling the Eagles level.

As the final minutes remained both sides’ energy reserves were called upon, with all 22 players putting in a commendable shift. Liverpool battled to preserve their advantage as Palace continued to knock at the door, but Paddy McCarthy’s charges were frustrated to only earn a free-kick when Adaramola was fouled on the edge of the box.

Moments later Nathan Ferguson headed over the bar from close range and Palace were left to accept that, on this occasion, the score would not fall their way.

To confirm defeat, Gordon strode towards Matthews' goal with hardly any time left, unleashing a shot from the edge of the box and putting an away victory beyond doubt.

Palace: Matthews, Clyne, Kelly, Ferguson, Adaramola, Riedewald, Kirby, Wells-Morrison (Omilabu 89), Rak-Sakyi, Gordon, Street.

Subs not used: Whitworth, Siddik, D.Boateng, Phillips.

Liverpool: Pitaluga, Bradley, Beck, Quansah, Koumetio, Clarkson, Gordon, Morton, Woltman (Beame 88), Balagazi (Clayton 82), Norris.

Subs not used: Kelly, O’Rourke.