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Crystal Palace U18’s vs Fulham U18’s 21/22

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well.

On Saturday 14th of May I attended my penultimate game of the season, Crystal Palace Under 18’s vs Fulham Under 18’s in the final game of the 21/22 Under 18 Premier League.

Palace were coming into this game off the back of the 2-1 victory over Brighton, whereas Fulham made the trip over the river off the back of 2 consecutive defeats and were sitting 6th in the league. Three changes were made to the team compared to the Brighton game, these saw Laurence Shala, David Obou and Adler Nascimento (who was making his first start in a while after coming back from injury) in the starting 11 as Owen Goodman, Fionn Mooney and Maliq Cadogan dropped out. The only one I know the reasoning for is Cadogan who was just being rested after playing a big part in the team over the season.

The match was played on a different pitch as the normal showcase one was out of use, this meant we sat behind the goal about 5 foot from the bi-line. This was the first game in a while I wasn’t paranoid I was going to be hit by a ball because there was a massive mesh net in front of us!

The game started with some good pressure from Victor Akinwale not allowing Fulham to play out the back. An early chance where David Obou should’ve been greedy and gone for the shot, instead he passed the ball through to Akinwale, but it was just too heavy for the striker to have a first time shot allowing the keeper to make a save; the following corner found the head of Joe Sheridan who could only direct the ball over the bar. Fulham’s first phase of play in their attacking half led to a corner after a block from captain Joe Sheridan, nothing came from this. Victor Akinwale went down inured and needed some treatment, he was fine to continue. He was immediately involved in an attack running at the Fulham defender, he passed to Alder Nascimento who cut inside for a shot forcing a save from the keeper and a corner; again, nothing came from this. Fulham’s number 7 Michael Olakigbe wasn’t a fan of passing, when the chance fell to him he always went for the shot, most of them fell easily to the keeper. We struggled to keep the ball after a strong start with Fulham starting to assert their dominance. Vonnte Williams did well to win the ball back in the middle of the pitch before making a positive run towards goal down the centre, the initial ball to Akinwale wasn’t hard enough but the ball deflected back into his path behind the defenders making it possible for him to have a good finish into the back of the net for 1-0. This was Victor’s 24th goal of the campaign, this impressive tally secured him second in the u18 top goal scorers. Again, from closing down Fulham Ademola Ola-Adebomi won the ball back playing it into the path of Obou, he should’ve shot earlier as by the time he did the defender had time to make the block. A great ball up from Sheridan wasn’t anticipated by Ola-Adebomi leaving to run through to the keeper, could’ve been a great opportunity to get the second goal. Fulham had their best chance at the end of the first half, playing some nice football around our defenders, the final shot was poor as it was blazed wide, meaning we went into the break 1-0 up.

The main issue was our lack of shots, we were playing some nice football but lacked any quality chances to score more. As the game continued Fulham were growing more and more in confidence.

Fulham started the second half very strong with palace Struggling to get out their own half. Our first and one of the only phases of play in our attacking half was a free kick which went straight into wall, Matty Vigor picked up the ball and drove towards the bi-line before crossing over to Ola-Adebomi who was rose above everyone, his header was blocked sending it back it for a corner, again nothing came from this. A low cross into Fulham’s Oliver Sanderson who was well tracked by our 6 (who is on trial so not sure of his name) to prevent any real power in the shot allowing an easy save from the keeper. Complete domination from Fulham, Alder Nascimento tracked back really well for one of their dangerous chances as their Michael Olakigbe looked to be about to have a shot We really struggled to get Akinwale, Obou and Ola-Adebomi involved in the game and when they were the ball was lost near instantly. The intensity was non-existent with the players looking knackered, it’s understandable after a long season but they lacked the basics of closing the players down allowing them to have cheap shots. The first substitution saw Asher Agbinane come on to replace David Obou. Our next real chance of the half came when Nascimento won the ball in the middle of the field releasing Akinwale down the wing, a direct run towards goal ended with a ball being whipped over the face of the goal disappointingly no one was there to head it in. Adler Nascimento went down off the ball and needed attention from the physio, he wasn’t able to continue forcing the manager to bring Junior Dixon on in his place. Like I previously mentioned he’s only just returned to the starting line-up after an injury so hopefully it’s nothing recurring, and he has a quick recovery! The Fulham were really clutching at straws calling for every single decision, even the ref started to get annoyed with them! Very similar to the earlier Akinwale situation Vonnte Williams was able to make a driving run towards goal before whipping the ball in and again no one was there. Late in the half Williams forced a good close range save from the keeper after firing a bullet at him, this was possibly the Fulham keeper’s first save of the half. The ref was very card happy in the later stages booking 3 of our players in the space of 10 minutes, some were completely unnecessary. Fulham continued their dominance completely controlling possession of the ball, winning everything and had so much time to think about what to do. Fulham’s Delano McCoy-Splatt’s shot forced a diving save from the keeper, again too easy for Fulham to create chances to score. This followed by a Fulham free kick after being brought down by Matty Vigor, straight over the bar for a goal kick. The longer the game went on the more it looked like Fulham would get the equaliser. The final piece of action of the game was another free kick being awarded to Fulham, the ball was whipped in and hit the far post, bodies on the line to keep the clean sheet including 2 clearances off the line from Joe Sheridan and Ademola Ola-Adebomi, leaving the game to finish 1-0.

Final game of the season ending with 3 points, the team takes the third place position in the U18 Premier League in only their second season in the division. Every game I’ve been too in the past few weeks has ended in a win to us, what a great time to be a Palace fan! Very glad they managed to hold on after a very intense second half where Fulham did everything bar put the ball in the back of the net. Now the season has ended some of these players will move up into the under 23 team as they turn 19 over the break, the only 2 I know are guaranteed are Ademola Ola-Adebomi and Maliq Cadogen, but it makes next season very exciting giving more players the chance to introduce themselves to the squads or play at a higher level.

After the game we went to say goodbye to Susan who has been so helpful to me in the past few months and it’s thanks to her I’ve been able to go to all these games! As the players were on the different pitch that had to walk further than normal, Ademola Ola-Adebomi was one of the players who was so welcoming to me on my work experience and we’ve kept in touch since, he gave me his shirt after the game which I am extremely thankful for (it has already been framed and placed with all my others) I can’t wait to continue supporting him and the other boys next season!

The final game of the season I am going to is to watch the first team close the season against Manchester United on Sunday 22nd of May (so look out for that post), it would be lovely if we can get one more win at home!

Thank you for reading

Ellie Xx


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