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Crystal Palace U23’s vs Leicester U23’s 21/22

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone

Hope you are all well.

I was lucky enough to be invited back to the Crystal Palace academy, this time to watch the Under 23’s face Leicester in the Premier League 2. My stepdad took me to the match for his first time at the Academy, once again everyone was lovely and welcomed me back! This was the first game of the season I had watched them in person, after seeing them be promoted last year, but I have been watching them whenever they were on Palace TV from home, although the feeling of watching a football game live is much better! As we near the end of the season quite a lot of under 18’s have been promoted to the Under 23 team as we sat in 10th position (some still play in both), it was nice to see some familiar faces in the line-up including David Ozoh, Kaden Rodney, and Ademola Ola-Adebomi. The team was captained by Malachi Boateng who has recently returned from injury.

The game started with us playing in a similar style to the first team, passing it around the back. They did struggle a bit to get out of their own half as the Leicester team stayed strong in their position. Joe Whitworth was the preferred keeper for this game, he started the game very confidently shouting orders to his players. Tayo Adaramola showed some great attacking threat down the left flank, linking up with John-Kymani Gordon on multiple occasions leaving the defenders unable to handle the pace and pressure they were applying. An early free kick was awarded after a foul by Ozoh, it looked fine and like he won the ball, but the ref wasn’t happy, the free kick ended with a simple save for Whitworth. Within 10 minutes we were 1-0 up, interception by captain Malachi Boateng in the midfield before he could release the ball to Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, he tricked his way to the bi line before pulling it back into the path of Killian Phillips who finally sent the ball into the back of the net from a right foot finish! Killian Phillips and Tayo Adaramola we’re involved again in the next attack linking up to find Rak-Sakyi whose volley was only into the hands of the keeper. All of Leicester early goal kicks went long straight up to Whitworth and seemed very pointless. Big change for us as a good ball was played to Jez, he made a direct run into space before whipping it in to Scott Banks, his shot went straight over the bar. In the 19th minute we lost the ball in midfield and suddenly looked very exposed, a direct run down the centre of the pitch drew the defenders in leaving Thanawat Suengchitthawon for Leicester to have tons of space, he was eventually played in and could cut back onto his right foot and get his team back in the game with an equaliser. The first booking of the day went to Adaramola after he professionally fouled their attacking player as he identified the threat he would’ve caused if he got through. They got a free kick which was blocked on the way through awarding the first corner of the game. The corner led to a Palace counterattack as the front three ran up, Jez should’ve passed the ball a bit sooner to release Scott Banks but by holding onto the ball he won a free kick after being brought down just outside the box. Scott Banks stood up to take, if you watch the u23’s a lot you would know how special his free kicks are, with no hesitation his left footed shot was slotted into the back of the net to put us ahead once again! As the half went on we started to make poor decisions leaving to possession being turned over way too cheaply. Ball won back in the midfield, the pass looked too heavy, but Banks managed to keep it in, no one in the box straight away but John-Kymani Gordon managed to run up in time, Banks’ pass across the goal line was just missed by Gordon for a tap in! The half ended with us struggling to keep possession so came at the right time.

Decent start to the game with Rak-Sakyi in particular having a strong start, we just needed to try get the 3 up front involved in the game more. They didn’t really have any real chances, and didn’t oppose any threat, the one goal we did concede was a sloppy mistake of not closing them down good enough. At halftime Malachi Boateng was taken off for Luke Dreher, this was a surprising change as I felt he was having a good game.

Again, early in the second half Adaramola was too speedy for the Leicester defender, he could’ve crossed earlier to Rak-Sakyi but instead played in Banks who was brought down in the box, the ref pointed to the spot. Banks stood up to take the penalty after winning it himself and of course he converted it into the bottom right. Extended our lead to 3-1. The ref was very very bad in the second half (I will mention it more later), one of his most costly decisions came in the 53rd minute as Adaramola was awarded his second yellow card of the game leading to a red card being awarded and him having to leave the pitch, it was an extremely harsh decision that he rightly wasn’t the happiest about. Tayo’s season is now basically over as it is the under 23’s final game next Monday, and I’m not sure if he would be allowed to play in the first team still even if he could the chances are limited. Leicester had a few small chances but none that put us under any real danger. The next substitution saw David Ozoh replaced by Cardo Siddik. Again John-Kymani Gordon was too strong for the Leicester defence to handle, but just like I’ve said so many times with the first team they couldn’t find the last critical pass! A shot from Leicester’s Will Alves outside the box forced a save from Whitworth which he was able to hold on to. Leicester’s midfield players were given way too much time and space to run into too or pick a pass out. On one occasion Will Alves was released down the wing, Kaden Rodney did well to close him down and prevent a shot, but he passed it into Thanawat Suengchitthawon who was brought down outside the box, it did look like he won the ball but again the ref wasn’t happy and booked Luke Dreher for the offence. They tried to replicate Scott Banks’ goal in a similar position to the first half, but the attempt went straight into the wall. My stepdad compared some of the players to Jordan Ayew after they held on to the ball too long where there were better options available, very frustrating to watch in both teams! Leicester had a corner, the initial attempt forced a great save from Whitworth, the follow up shot at the back post was blocked well by Dan Quick before the final shot went into the side netting. Leicester were handed another opportunity to get back in the game as their attacker was brought down inside the box leading to a penalty being awarded, Joe Whitworth has a great record when it comes to penalties saving his last few pens but sadly he guessed the wrong way and Lewis Brunt could slot the goal in making it 3-2. Similar to the end of the first half Leicester were on top with Palace struggling to keep possession. The final substitution saw Scott Banks off for David Omilabu as we pushed for the winning goal, last time I watched David play was at the PL2 Playoff final when he scored the winning pen! Another occasion where the ref made a dodgy decision was when he awarded Dreher a second yellow card, this was in a very similar position to where he got his first but this time he was dismissed from the pitch as the red card was shown, he had only been on the pitch for 38 minutes, so it was very disappointing to see even more so now we were down to 9 men. Noah Watson had to go out to left back to fill the position although he is normally a centre back. The free kick was completely wasted as it went far past the post. The poor decisions just kept coming and coming as the ref booked Whitworth for time wasting, he was too card happy awarding the 5th card of the second half. The closing stages of the half was very nervy as Leicester were totally dominating, we had to put all 9 players behind the ball in the hopes of holding on to the 3 points. It felt like the half was going on forever, it began just after 5 and was still in play at 6, I don’t know how the ref didn’t end it sooner, but it felt like he was just waiting for Leicester to score after being their 12th player the whole game! We did manage to hold on as the game finished 3-2.

They did really well to hold on in the difficult circumstances of being down to 9 men, it was good to see everyone pulling their weight and working for the badge. The team is now sitting 8th in the PL2 table with one game remaining, I am going to be going to that game next Monday against Derby as it is at Selhurst Park!

I have a busy weekend coming up as I will be attending 3 Palace games watching all 3 age groups, the first being the Under 18’s on Saturday morning back at the academy (so look out for that post), before the first team face Watford at Selhurst in the afternoon, then finally a trip back to Selhurst Monday night to watch the under 23’s final game!

Thank you for reading

Ellie Xx


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