Manchester United’s u18s went down 2-1 to Crystal Palace this morning, paying the price for some sloppy defending.
Last weekend Southampton scored after 90 seconds – this week we were lucky not to see another early goal when Palace created the first chance of the game after 3 minutes. Left back Jerome Williams found some space at the far post, but his effort hit the post.
United struck back just a few minutes later. First Callum Evans hit the ball on the volley after a half-cleared corner, but the ball rolled wide of the post and just a minute later we perhaps should have scored when Dæhli found some space on the left and pulled it back from Pereira, but his shot was blocked on the line by a Palace defender.
Callum Evans had a good start to the game – and on 18 minutes he went on a run down the leftside. He got the ball from Dæhli, beat his man on the outside but decided to shoot rather than trying to look for Byrne or Pereira in front of the goal. Goalkeeper Gregory saved his attempt without too much effort.
United saw another chance go begging after Dymond lost the ball to Rudge. The midfielder drove forward and set up Byrne whose shot was nicely saved by Gregory and the resulting corner was easily claimed by the goalkeeper.
On 32 minutes Palace should have taken the lead. The pacy winger Allassani picked the ball up from his own area – rode 3-4 tackles before nicely setting up Tieku – but the big striker rolled the ball just wide of the post from 12-13 yards out when he should have at least have made Sutherland work.
United struggled with the physical presence of Palace, going forward the team looked dangerous but they lost the ball too often and spent too much time defending in this part of the game.
On 38 minutes Pearson went down after a tackle from Dymond. At first it looked bad – but the replay showed that it was a kick on the knee from Dymond that kept him down rather than a twist in the initial challenge, and after treatment the midfielder quickly came back on.
1 minute into injury-time both teams wasted chances to open the scoring; Pereira broke free on the right setting up Weir who curled an effort just wide of the post whilst at the other end an unmarked Palmer wasted a good Williams cross, completely misjudging his header from 5 yards out which bounced off the ground and went wide.
Palace almost took the lead after 2 minutes in the second half. Williams got the ball on the left and shot, his effort took a slight deflection but Sutherland managed to make a very good save getting his hand on the ball.
Around the 50 minute mark United began to put Palace under serious pressure in the best spell of the game. Gregory first saved a shot from Weir – before Pereira played Byrne through but Gregory came out quickly and blocked the effort.
Palace take the lead after sloppy defending by United
Despite it being their best period of the game, United completely lost their heads on a Palace corner. They left Allassani completely unmarked at the edge of the area – and he chipped the ball perfectly into the far corner. Horrible defending, reminiscent of some of the first team’s defending from earlier this season.
United strike back and equalize just 2 minutes later
But United maintained the pressure equalized almost immediately. United won a freekick 20 yards out and Pereira’s deflected attempt hit the bar, Byrne was the quickest to react and headed the ball into the empty net. Upon seeing the replay, the freekick may have been wrongly awarded as it looked a good challenge.
Sam Byrne could have scored a second just 2 minutes later when Dæhli broke free down the left, his effort was saved by the keeper but Byrne picked up the rebound but sent it wide of the post.
Palace had no intention of giving up and won a dangerous freekick on 62 minutes, but Sutherland blocked the effort. Even the resulting corner turned into a decent opportunity for Palace – but the looping header was tipped over the bar by Sutherland for another corner, this time cleared by United.
Very little happened in the next 10-15 minutes, and it was a much more even game after United dominating the first 15 minutes of the half. United made a substitution to try to liven the game up a bit with Demetre Mitchell replacing Pereira. Pereira was largely quiet apart from his freekick that eventually lead to United’s equaliser.
Palace score against the run of play
With the game in the balance, it was Palace who took the lead. Allassani was able to beat 2 defenders too easily before squaring the ball to Grey who slid the ball home from 7-8 yards out. Nice by Allassani again but Barmby and possibly Grimshaw didn’t do enough.
Barmby seemed determined to make amends for his mistake, and almost set up an equalizer 1 minute later when his low cross was cleared at the last second.
United created a few half-chances in the last 10 minutes of the game, but failed to put the ball in the back of the net and Palace held out to win the game 2-1, a defeat which should have been avoided as United by far looked the better side in the second half.
United: (4-4-1-1) – Jonny Sutherland – Liam Grimshaw, Callum Evans, Ryan McConnell, Paddy McNair, Ben Pearson, Nick Barmby, James Weir, Sam Byrne, Andreas Pereira (Mitchell 75), Mats Dæhli
Palace: (4-3-3) – David Gregory – Alastair Gordon , Jerome Williams, Connor Dymond , Luke Croll, Ryan Inniss , Javen Palmer, Jake Grey, Derek Tieku, Elijah Gabsi (Sow 71), Reise Allassani
0-1 Reise Allassani 55
1-1 Sam Byrne 57
1-2 Jake Grey 78