Crystal Palace’s U18s maintained their place at the top of the league after coming out on top 3-1 against QPR in what was their first win in five games yesterday afternoon.
After a closely contested opening 45 minutes in which both sides prodded and poked one another in the hope of breaking the deadlock, it was QPR who eventually took the lead on 52 minutes when a powerful long-range effort was parried into the path of an onrushing striker by Palace stopper Ollie Webber, giving the Hoops’ striker every chance of putting the visitors in front.
Joseph Hungbo, a youngster quickly making a name for himself inside the academy set-up ensured that Palace wouldn’t be behind for long, winning a free-kick on the edge of the box before taking it himself and being fouled in the melee that followed, leading the referee to give the Eagles a penalty.
The captain duly picked himself up off the turf and dispatched the spot kick into the bottom left-hand corner, giving he and his teammates a foothold in the clash that they would not relinquish. After one or two shaky moments at the back, Palace broke away and won another penalty when wing-back Malcolm was brought down inside the area. Hungbo stepped up once again, seeing his initial strike well saved before reacting quickly to tuck home from close-range and give Palace the lead.
Remarkably, the lads were able to put the fixture to bed on the stroke of full-time when the man in the middle pointed to the spot for a third time following a tackle on Francis Baptiste which saw the QPR keeper sent off. Baptiste himself decided to take it this time, smashing his effort into the top corner to stretch the score-line to 3-1 and keep Palace three points clear of second placed Watford having played one more game than the Hornets.
Let’s hope this victory acts as a catalyst for their final few league fixtures.