Report: U23s victorious in seven-goal thriller
A wonderful Scott Banks free-kick proved the winner against Tottenham Hotspur, as Crystal Palace Under-23s came out on top in a seven-goal thriller at the Academy.
Palace take the lead on four minutes through a powerful Rich-Baghuelou header
Rak-Sakyi doubles the advantage with a superb finish from a tight angle
Goalmouth scramble denies Spurs after excellent Whitworth save
Street makes it three after pouncing on a defensive error
Spurs get one back as Devine scrambles it home
HT: Palace 3-1 Tottenham
Markanday nips in and cuts inside, firing low off the post for Spurs' second.
Markanday turns provider, cutting back for Cesay for the equaliser.
Banks curls home a sumptuous free-kick to regain Palace's lead.
FT: Palace 4-3 Tottenham
Palace started with a real energy and determination, and straight from kick-off the visitors found their time on the ball limited. Rob Street and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi in particular were harrying Josh Oluwayemi in the Tottenham goal.
It wasn’t long before they were rewarded. With the ball only half-cleared from a corner, Rak-Sakyi lofted a volleyed cross towards the far post, where Jay Rich-Baghuelou towered above his opposite numbers to nod home for the opening goal.
Not content with one, the Eagles kept pushing forwards. A sweeping team move saw Hannam find space on the left, crossing for Omilabu who was unable to poke home.
But there wasn’t long to wait for the second, and after creating the first for Rich-Baghuelou, this time Rak-Sakyi applied the finishing touches himself. Receiving the ball on left from Sean Robertson, he beat one defender by feinting on the byline, before cutting inside and beating the goalkeeper from the tightest of angles.
The second goal shook Spurs, who came close to getting one back just moments later. Dilan Markanday saw his effort saved by Joe Whitworth, before Jack Clarke’s effort was blocked onto the post and scrambled away.
But Palace kept pressing Spurs on the ball, and soon it paid dividends. Working hard to close down the defender, Rob Street took advantage of a loose touch to nip in and bear down on goal, finishing sumptuously into top corner to make it a three goal advantage before the half-hour mark.
The visitors had chances before half-time, including a free-kick straight down the throat of Whitworth, but it was Palace who looked more like adding to their lead. Banks was denied from the angle after being played in by Street, before Omilabu almost found space behind the defence.
But for all their chances, it was Spurs who found their way back into the game just before half-time. Markanday pressed high and drove through the Palace midfield, finding Yago Alonso to get his shot away. Between them, Whitworth and Reece Hannam couldn’t scramble the ball away, and Alfie Devine was amble to force it home.
After the break, the momentum changed entirely and Spurs were on top. Devine came close once again, seeing a long-range shot deflected behind.
But it was Markanday who was the real dangerman from the visitors, nipping in ahead of Jack Wells-Morrison and firing low off the woodwork to bring Spurs within one.
Two minutes later he turned provider, pulling the ball back to the edge of the area where Kallum Cesay was waiting to curl home. From three goals down, Spurs were level.
Palace were under pressure, with Spurs seeming the more confident side on the ball. But with the referee awarding the hosts a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, up stepped Scott Banks to curl over the wall and into the back of the net to regain Palace their lead.
It was reminiscent of his strike for the first-team in the pre-season trip to Reading, and a crucial moment for the Eagles to stop the visitors' charge in its tracks.
It set what was already a wonderful game up for a thrilling conclusion. Street was set through on goal but fired over the crossbar after attempting to lob the goalkeeper, while Markanday was denied once again at the other end.
Both sides kept fighting long into injury time, with Tottenham pushing hard to get back level.
In the end, however, it was an important victory for Paddy McCarthy and Crystal Palace, who survived the second-half scare to take all three points.
Palace: Whitworth (GK), Robertson, O'Brien, Rich-Baghuelou, Hannam, M. Boateng, Wells-Morrison, Banks (D. Boateng, 83), Rak-Sakyi, Street, Omilabu (Gordon, 79).
Subs: Webber (GK), Freedman, Roles.
Spurs: Oluwayemi (GK), Cesay, Muir, Craig, Omole, John, White, Devine, Markanday, Clarke, Alonso (Paskotsi, 85).
Subs not used: Lo-Tutala, Fagan-Walcott.