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Crystal Palace U21’s vs Sporting Braga U21’s - Premier League International Cup

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all well.

On Wednesday 8th February 2023 I went to watch Crystal Palace U21’s vs Sporting Braga U21’s in the Premier League International Cup. They hoped to progress to the next round in this must win game.

I made the decision to go very spontaneously on the day as the game was held at Champion Hill, which is the home of Dulwich Hamlet and is also where the under 21’s play when in front of crowds. The journey from university was surprisingly very straightforward, only needing two trains. I will definitely be going to watch them when they play there again. It was the first time I’d been to a low league stadium so wasn’t sure what to expect. The wheelchair seats were decent. I had my own platform above the other supporters, and had a good view of the whole pitch. It was a night kick off and was pretty cold. The seats were covered so it was bearable without having the wind pelting us all game.

Just 4 days prior to this game, Palace had played Dinano Zagreb u21’s in the Premier League International Cup. The game ended in a 2-1 defeat, putting a lot of pressure on the young Eagles to win this game to guarantee progression. The under 21’s managed to beat PSG’s under 21’s 7-3 back in September so it is evident the quality is there in the competition and it needed to come out for this game!

Subsequent to the previous loss Paddy McCarthy made four changes to the line-up with more experienced players in Joe Whitworth, Danny Imray, Noah Watson and Ademola Ola-Adebomi coming in for Jackson Izquierdo, Caleb Kporha, Kaden Rodney and Victor Akinwale.

A last minute goal from captain Jack Wells-Morrison saw Palace leave with the win and progression in the Premier League International Cup!

In a scrappy start to the game it was the visitors Sporting Braga who took early claim on the game. Just 9 minutes in Andre Lacximicant’s powerful shot flew past Joe Whitworth giving them the advantage.

Palace’s Fionn Mooney went on a driving run towards goal in the hunt for an immediate equaliser but his shot was kept out by the post after a deflection.

Sporting Braga had multiple chances to extend their lead but their efforts fizzed past the post. Palace remained resilient and in the 25th minute they were rewarded, a long throw from Kofi Balmer was put in the box. After some uncertainty the ball finally fell to Seán Grehan who buried the ball in the back of the net with a great finish, making the scores level.

A player that stood out in the early stages of the game was David Ozoh, he used his strength and showed eagerness to win the ball back and move it up the pitch, this continued for the remainder of the game.

Palace tried to hit Braga on the counterattack with Ademola Ola-Adebomi linking up with Mooney, sending him up field only to be taken down before he could get his shot off. The opposing player was lucky not be sent off and will be thankful for his teammate. The consequential free kick was a simple save for the keeper.

The teams went into the break level with neither team creating any significant chances.

Sporting Braga came close to putting themselves ahead once again straight after the break, Diogo Casimiro cut inside and his shot narrowingly went past the far post after a deflection. They had another chance from close range shortly after but Whitworth pulled off a great save to keep the ball out of his net.

The second half saw minimal chances with momentum for the teams being ruined by fouls and a frustrating quality from the visitors in wasting time, the referee once again had a poor performance falling for Sporting Braga’s games.

After being introduced as a substitute Victor Akinwale received a ball in from Danny Imray, he was unable to get a good connection, taking any real danger out of his header and making it a simple save for the Sporting Braga keeper.

Another player in red and blue that had a great game was Joe Whitworth, making some great saves, including a late fingertip save to keep scores level going into final 10 minutes.

With minutes left for Palace to gain progression to the next round of the Premier League International Cup, it was captain Jack Wells-Morrison who broke the deadlock. Ozoh once again showed great strength to hold off his man and drive towards goal, he managed to pull the ball back into space in the box where Wells-Morrison was waiting to finish the ball into the back of the net with a fantastic finish, making the full up stand of Champion Hill erupt with delight!

With this victory the young Eagles will now progress to the next round of the Premier League International Cup, they finished as runners-up in their group with nine points from their four games in the competition.

The next game I am attending is against Br*ghton on Saturday 11th of February back at Selhurst Park, so look out for that post … hopefully it will be a great game!

Thank you for reading

Ellie Xx


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