By Nathan Youd.
Crystal Palace’s U18s edged past Manchester United’s U18s in Saturday’s U18 Premier League Elite Phase encounter at Carrington.
Both sides created a host of chances in a fast paced and entertaining game, but Palace just had a little too much for their United counterparts in the end to deservedly take the spoils.
Palace started the game at a frantic pace, and almost took the lead after two minutes; a superb floated ball from Conor Dymond found the run of Jerome Williams, who controlled well before striking the post. Ryan McConnell did well to ensure the rebound wasn’t tucked away.
United almost broke the deadlock after 10 minutes, a surging run down the left hand side from Mats Daehli had the Palace defence scrambling, his cut back found Pereira who’s goal bound shot was blocked.
Callum Evans then went close for United who had began to gain a foothold in the game. The reds again found joy down the left hand side; the full back burst into the Palace area, but shot tamely at David Gregory in the Palace goal.
Sam Byrne was next to test Gregory, but the goalkeeper did well to divert his stinging effort away from goal.
Palace wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead on the half hour mark. An electric break from Reise Allassani left him two-on-two with the United defence; the winger slipped the ball through to Derek Tieku who side footed wide from 12 yards.
James Weir could have given United the lead on the stroke of half-time, Andreas Pereira found space down left before pulling the ball back for the latter, but his strike flew wide of goal.
Moments later, Palace missed a guilt edged chance to snatch the lead, Javen Palmer somehow headed wide from two yards out, when it was easier to score than miss the target.
Both sides struggled to find a cutting edge in a scrappy opening 45 minutes, with the watching Carrington crowd left wondering how the first half ended goalless.
Half time: Manchester United U18s 0-0 Crystal Palace U18s
The second half started at the same frantic pace as the first, a crucial intervention from the imposing figure of Inniss denied United a chance to find the net early on.
Straight down the other end, the impressive Jerome Williams again found space in the area after a marauding run down the left hand side, only to be denied by an impressive Sutherland save.
It was then Gregory’s turn to produce a fantastic stop, clawing away Pereira’s powerful effort than was destined to find the bottom corner.
In the blink of an eye, Palace took the lead. A short corner found Allassani in space, whose cross-cum-shot somehow evaded Sutherland and snuck into the top corner. On terms of chances created, the away side deserved the lead.
Just two minutes later, United were level. A debatable free kick was awarded to United on the edge of the box, Pereira’s superb effort struck the underside of the crossbar and Byrne reacted quickest to nod the ball into the empty goal.
The equaliser seemed to deflate Palace, and spark united into life, with Byrne and Barmby both going close, Palace looked rattled, and the impetus was with the hosts.
Another free kick, the time for the away side led to a chance, Sutherland palmed away Ryan Inniss’ strike at his near post, before tipping a looping header over the bar from the subsequent corner.
United almost took the lead soon after, Ben Pearson’s cutback found Pereira in space, who’s scrappy strike almost fell for Byrne. Gregory was alert however and averted the danger.
Both teams looked to their substitutes bench to try and make the difference, Ghassimu Sow replaced Elijah Gabsi for Palace, and Demetre Mitchell made his first appearance for United in the Under 18s, replacing Andreas Pereira.
Against the run of play, Palace took the lead. A fantastic ball from Dymond found Allassani, who this time turned provider; despite the attention of two united defenders, the winger managed to slide the ball through the Jake Grey, who slid the ball home past Sutherland.
United then began to surge forward in search of an equaliser, Barmby was left wondering how his cutback didn’t find a red shirt in the box, and Byrne fired wide when he should have hit the target.
Palace used up the rest of their substitutes in an effort to run down the clock, with United pressing for an equalising goal.
But Palace held on to take the spoils and register their first win of their Elite Group stage campaign.
Final Score: Manchester United U18s 1-2 Crystal Palace U18s
Manchester United starting XI: Sutherland; Grimshaw, Evans, McConnell, McNair; Pearson, Barmby, Weir; Byrne, Pereira, Daehli.
Subs: Harrop, Gollini, Mitchell, Barber, Fletcher.
Crystal Palace starting XI: Gregory; Gordon, Williams, Dymond; Croll, Inniss, Palmer, Tieku, Allassani; Grey, Gabsi.
Subs: Khinda-John, King, Sow, Woodley, Andrews.
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