A mature display from Corie Andrews up front on his own helped Palace u18s cruise to a 5-0 victory over Cardiff City on a breezy Spring afternoon at Copers Cope Road, as the striker notched two goals and two assists.
New boss Ken Gillard has instilled belief and discipline on the ball for the youngsters as u18 manager since replacing Des Bulpin who left to join Millwall in January. The Irishman has overseen an impressive transformation in results and performance in his short time at the helm of the u18s, having moved up from u16 manager.
Indeed it showed as Palace looked comfortable on the ball throughout the match, but Cardiff did not threaten despite a few early scares. An impeccably observed minute’s silence on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster brought a quiet mood to the game, but as the match progressed both sides became more vociferous in their desire for the ball and complaints at decisions which were not going their way.
Palace lined up much in the same way as is practiced in the first team, a variation of a 4-5-1 formation with Corie Andrews as the lone striker, Elijah Gabsi in an advanced midfield position, with Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong and Elliot List on the left and right side of midfield respectively.
The young Eagles began the game well, keeping possession with some neat interplay and looking for the clever through ball, but often finding that the pass had too much weight on it. They had the first attack of the game as List chased the ball from deep and attempted to loft it over the last man, only to find his touch to be too heavy and Cardiff were able to clear. Soon after, Andrews ran down the Cardiff defender and appeared to have taken the ball before being barged over in the box but the referee gave nothing, and the lack of appeal from the Palace players suggested that the tackle was a fair one.
Cardiff began to pressure the Palace defence as they sought to run at the Eagles, but some resolute defending, wasteful passing and shooting ensured that the scores remained goalless. Andrews, Palace’s main focal point throughout, was again involved as Berkeley-Agyepong attempted to send him away but the 16-year-old was muscled off the ball. Nonetheless, he showed his quality on the halfway line as he brought down a long ball with an accomplished touch, before dragging it back through his legs to draw a foul from the Cardiff defender.
Either side of Andrews’ involvement the Bluebirds thought they had taken the lead as a through ball split open the Palace defence and the striker lofted the ball over Tom King and into the net, but his joy was short lived as he wheeled away to see the linesman’s flag raised for offside.
Palace learned from their let off and Berkeley-Agyepong burst down the left to cross for List whose miskick fell kindly to Andrews but his effort was straight at the ‘keeper from a narrow angle, before Kiye Martin blasted over. However, it was not long before the Eagles took the lead as an Elijah Gabsi through ball sent Andrews in on goal to run on and fire past the ‘keeper.
Soon after and Palace doubled their lead from the penalty spot after Andrews robbed Cardiff’s defender following a poor backpass, rounded the ‘keeper only to be fouled by the defender who received his marching orders. Mandela Egbo stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Manager Ken Gillard told his side that the next goal was crucial and despite the Cardiff striker scuffing his shot from close range, and Tom King being let off after recovering from a poor decision to come out and claim the ball, Palace heeded their boss’ words and made it 3-0. The forwards linked well once again and Berkeley-Ageypong chested the ball down, beat his man, and as he was felled slid the ball under the ‘keeper.
It should have been four when Kyle Spence turned the left-back in exquisite fashion and centred for Will Hoare, but the midfielder aimed his shot straight at the ‘keeper. If he had aimed it anywhere else then Palace would have added another goal to their tally. Nonetheless, the Eagles did make it four soon after as good work again from Andrews helped Sonny Black on his way to notch his first of the game.
Just as in the first half, Palace scored again just before the whistle called time on the half, and in this case, the match. It was that man again, Corie Andrews who worked a good position and blasted a rasping drive into the top of the net to cap a magnificent performance for a first year scholar playing up front by himself despite not holding much weight.
It was an easy victory for Palace, and the resurgence under Ken Gillard continued as they bounced back from a 4-2 defeat at Crewe last weekend.
Elliot List nearly joined in the goalscoring fun as his far post shot was somehow cleared off the line by a Cardiff defender.
Speaking after the Eagles' u18 side managed by Ken Gillard had just recorded an impressive 5-0 victory at home to Cardiff City, Crystal Palace's academy manager Gary Issott confirmed that professional contracts had been given to Elijah Gabsi, Sonny Black, Reise Allassani, Hiram Boateng and Jake Gray, but unfortunately Douglas Wright and Kiran Kindha-John have been released by the club.
It came as something of a surprise that the club had decided to release centre-back Kiran Kindha-John after some impressive performances towards the back end of the season, but evidently the tall defender was deemed to be surplus to requirements. The imposing defender had joined Palace after his release from Chelsea at u16 level. The decision to release former Scotland youth international Douglas Wright does not come as such a surprise after the right-back suffered a torrid time with two horrendous injuries which ruled him out for two seasons of his fledgling career. It is perhaps unlikely that he will find a new club given the nature of the injuries, although after Lee Hills suffered problems with his knees he found himself with a career in the lower leagues, so there is some hope for Wright.
What of the players who have been rewarded with professional contracts? There is little surprise there as only Elijah Gabsi and Sonny Black were given their deals recently, with the other players having already proven their talent at a younger age.
Gabsi, an excellent receiver and distributor of the ball, plays a central-midfield role and has been at Palace from a young age. The 18-year-old has been a regular in the u18 side for the past two seasons and recently stepped up to make his u21 debut for the club.
Sonny Black is another central midfielder who suffered a cruciate injury in pre-season last year and so did not make as many appearances as he would have liked for the u18s, but he has been a regular in the side this season.
Hiram Boateng is yet another centre midfielder, but he plays a defensive role, with his primary ability being to break up the play and shield the back four. Nonetheless, his passing is excellent and his vision is also an impressive part of his game. Having only turned 18 in January the well built Wandsworth born youngster still has plenty of time to impress, despite already having made his debut for the club in the FA Cup third round in consecutive years.
Another player to have earned a professional contract before his scholarship was up is Reise Allassani. A week younger than Boateng, Allassani is a tricky winger who was given the best contract ever given to a youth player at the club, when Dougie Freedman was in charge. Indeed, Allassani played alongside the former Palace striker in a pre-season match at Dulwich, where the two linked up brilliantly. Having been on the periphery of the first team, he has had to settle for an occasional spot in the u21 side following illness and injury; but scored an excellent goal in the final match of the season against Brentford.
It was announced on Christmas Eve 2012 that both Jake Gray and Sullay KaiKai had been given two-and-a-half year professional contracts with the club. KaiKai has subsequently been rewarded for an outstanding season in the u21 side where he took his goal tally into double figures with a ratio of more than one a game at one point, with a long term contract at the club. A dead ball specialist, a number of those goals were superb free-kicks to win matches. A loan spell at League One side Crawley will have aided his development.
What more can I say about Jake Gray? The winger has arguably developed the most out of any player this season, being a regular in the u21 side despite his season being disrupted after a stress fracture to his toe early in the campaign. Although KaiKai has been superb, he was in excellent form the season before too, whereas Gray was settling into the club having been snapped up on a free transfer following Wycombe's decision to close their academy. Technically superb, Gray has a stunning eye for a pass and the ability to exercise it, whilst he also finds himself amongst the goals on a regular basis with a brilliant finishing technique. With a year left on his current deal, and Palace rating the 18-year-old highly, it will hopefully not be long before he is rewarded with a long term deal; and another season of excelling at u21 level may see him go further than simply make the first team squad as he did at Wigan in the FA Cup this season and actually make a first team appearance. One of the best players Palace have had come through the side, Gray has regularly been praised by Issott, who thinks he could go on to be the best signing at youth level the club has made.
Crystal Palace's academy manager Gary Issott revealed the list of players who have been released by the club and those who have gone on to earn professional contracts from the u18 side; with decisions on those in the u21 side to be made in the next week. However, he also called for more to be done to support the youngsters who are released by professional academies, in the long term.
Issott explained that two second year scholars had come to the end of their deals and would not be offered professional contracts with the club, and he described how difficult it is to tell a youngster that they will be let go, whilst claiming that not enough support is provided for youngsters when they are released from academies.
"It's tough [to tell a player they no longer have a career at Crystal Palace] but I think the hardest one is telling the u16s where you're almost stopping them having the opportunity and the dream really. There's an exit route where we can give them a route into foreign clubs, into education and also into the world of employment.
The harsh reality is that probably football doesn't do enough for those who get released. In most jobs if you leave, you can go and get another one, in football there's no guarantees you can do that. In football you lose your self-esteem, you lose that status of being a pro and you lose a lot of friends and it's a bit of rejection. It generally takes about two years to get it out of your system (being released) and some lads don't come back from the disappointment. I think football needs to do more and maybe there should be a charity set up to help these players.
The LFE [League Football Education] and the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] have done some good work but there's still not enough in football as a whole to help these young players. You help them as much as you can with those exit routes but then come the next batch of players that need all your attention and then the next batch... You could employ regional people who could look after a cluster of clubs. It goes on for two years and they probably need ongoing support for a long time after they leave."
Ultimately, there is little support in place for young players whose dreams have been shattered. The introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has ensured that clubs school their youngsters and educate them to a level that ensures they are capable of maintaining a career outside of football should they fail to make the grade. Palace currently work alongside the Oasis Academy to bring through young scholars and help minimise the disruption to their schooling. Issott is right in calling for more support for youngsters who have grown up with one main goal in life only to have it taken away from them; but it is questionable as to whether any changes will actually be implemented.
Wednesday April 16th, 2014. Kick-off 7.45pm. Goodison Park, Merseyside.
This is the re-arranged trip to Goodison Park after February's game was called off just half an hour before kick-off due to a little bit of wind. Ok, it was actually a LOT of wind but Palace fans who travelled up for the game were mightily peeved! And rightly so! Anyway, the re-arranged game now sees both teams in different positions; Everton are fighting for a Champions League place no less why Palace's top flight status is al but assured *touches wood*.
Palace have a near -fully fit squad, although Kagisho Dikgacoi was withdrawn early on at the weekend. The midfielder's hamstring has been deemed "not too serious" after a scan on Tuesday.
As a result Ledley could drop back into a deeper role and Marouane Chamakh - back to full fitness - could resume his attacking midfield position.
Roberto Martinez has been full of praise for Palace: ""Those home games start on Wednesday against Crystal Palace. You look at Palace and in my eyes they are the best defensive set-up in this league, especially when Tony Pulis arrived at the club.
"They don't concede many goals, if any, and they are on their best run of the year with three consecutive wins. So we're well aware at Everton that we need to create a special atmosphere under the floodlights and help the players face a very difficult fixture."
Phil Jagielka (hamstring) is nearing a return for the hosts but may not be quite ready in time for Wednesday's match, and trio Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone (all knee), defender Bryan Oviedo (broken leg) and loanee Lacina Troare (hamstring) will miss out.
By Jack Pierce
Merseyside’s renaissance this season does not stop and start with the red side because Everton are riding the crest of their own blue wave too.
In the midst of a seven game winning streak and on the cusp of breaking into the top four for the first in nearly a decade; Roberto Martinez’ first season in charge at Goodson Park has gone pretty well to put it mildly.
The Spanish manager inherited a very good squad of players, added quality in vital areas and has offered the likes of Ross Barkley and John Stones the chance to cement themselves as first team regulars for seasons to come. One criticism that Martinez has faced in recent weeks has been over his use of the loan market. Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku are all very important to this Everton side but none of them are Everton players once this season has finished and some people, Arsene Wenger included, have started to voice their ‘concerns’.
The problem with Wenger deciding to air his opinion at this stage of the season is that it looks a direct response to the fact that Everton have gone ahead of Arsenal in the race for the last Champions League spot. Had Everton been in 7th or 8th, there is not a chance that Wenger would have taken it upon himself to get involved in this particular debate.
The whole issue of whether Everton should be allowed to loan players of the quality of Barry, Deulofeu and Lukaku seems redundant to me.
Why should the like of Barry and Lukaku sit on the bench for their parent club because said parent club has so much money that they can stack and rack masses of players? If Manchester City and Chelsea do not have a problem with not having Barry and Lukaku to call upon, then why should Arsene Wenger?
As for the argument as to how Everton will cope without the aforementioned loan players, then that is an issue that Martinez will address when he needs to. If the influence of Barry, Deulofeu and Lukaku earns Everton a shot at the Champions League, then the likelihood is Everton will not be so reliant on the loan market from in the future. It is a clever use of the transfer market, offers a club in Everton’s financial position to challenge further up the table and if allowed, why should it be ignored?
Debating Everton’s use of the loan market aside, plenty of Everton players signed to the club permanently have also had a great influence on the club’s fortunes. The experience of Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Leon Osman has offered the foundations for the younger members of the Everton squad to show their class. The likes of Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy have been so consistent, it is expected that both will earn new, much improved contracts this summer. Coleman’s six goals from right back are not to sniffed, particularly when you consider Everton only paid Sligo Rovers £60,000 his services. He also forms part of a very good defensive unit that Martinez inherited when he replaced David Moyes, which has again proved vital in Everton’s great season.
Another obvious highlight of Everton’s season has been the form of Ross Barkley. Sent out on loan last season by Moyes, Roberto Martinez has asked Barkley to do just one thing this season – go and play his natural game. The Everton youth product has been compared to many midfielders of the past (Ballack and Gascoigne most notably) but such comparisons always seem unfair to me. It creates an air of pressure on the teenager to perform week in, week out and it is very rare that a player of such inexperience can reach such levels so consistently. Instances such as his solo goal against Newcastle last month are wonderful for Everton and England fans to see and get excited about but the realities are that Barkey will not be able to do that every time he steps out a pitch. However, because of his willingness to run at defenders centrally and his ability to go either side such is his confidence using both feet, football fans will get excited every time Barkley plays and in Martinez, the Everton midfielder currently has a manager who will not mind if he does make mistakes.
For all of the hype surrounding Barkley, he is not the only young English Evertonian currently in form. In John Stones, Everton have an absolute gem. Still only 19, the young defender’s displays during the last six week have been something special to watch to the extent that once Phil Jagielka returns to fitness, there are no guarantees he will slot straight back into the first team. Stones’ ability to start attacks by moving into midfield with the ball and natural defensive positional sense are qualities that clubs fork out big money for. Everton paid Barnsley just £3 million for Stones which already looks a steal.
Given the improvements he has made under Roberto Martinez, who knows how far Stones could go? Do not be surprised if he wears the Everton and England armband in years to come and if Roy Hodgson is picking players in form to go to Brazil this summer then he should definitely have a look at Stones before the season is out.
Everton’s run in is not particularly favourable but given their current form, they will not care who they play. Seven league wins in a row was never achieved under David Moyes and the sense of optimism in and around the club at the moment is something for Evertonians to cherish. If they do manage to secure fourth and a place in next season’s Champons League qualifiers then they will have fully deserved it.
The squad’s adapting to a new manager’s ways following on from David Moyes’ 11 year tenure has been nothing short of sensational and in breaking the club’s best ever Premier League points total with five games of the season still to play, this set of players will be desperate to make the most of it and secure Champions League football at Goodison next season.
This is a massive test for Palace and had this fixture been played when it was scheduled for in February, the chances of taking anything away from Goodison Park were far greater than us doing so on Wednesday given The Toffee’s current form.
That said, Everton are not the only team who will take to the pitch on Wednesday wanting to increase a winning streak, are they?
Provided by FootballFanCast.com
Everton have won three and lost none of the last five meetings with Crystal Palace in all competitions.
The Eagles have failed to find the net in five of their last seven away games in the Barclays Premier League.
A close game is expected here, with Palace in confident mood. Expect the Eagles to score but also to spend large periods of the game under pressure. We're going to go for 1-1.
Oh hello, didn't see you there. Welcome back for another spoonful of pod goodness with FYP Podcast 103.
This week the pod team look back on ANOTHER great Premier League win, this time over Aston Villa, and dare to dream that survival might...just...be a thing.
The pod team also answer your tweets and Facebook questions.
So join Jim Daly, Andy Street, Kevin Day and Matt Woosnam for 55 minutes of Palace chat!
And check out the podcast's lovely sponsors Vektor Printing!
Former Crystal Palace players Simon Orborn and Robert Quinn will once again don the famous red and blue to try and help fans beat arch rivals Brighton in a charity match.
On Friday May 2nd supporters from both clubs will meet at the Dripping Pan stadium in Lewes for the 13th annual Robert Eaton Memorial Fund match.
The club's famous Crystals cheerleaders will be in attendance, as will mascots Pete and Alice the Eagles.
The Seagulls currently lead 8-4 in the series and Palace fans will be keen to claw back a result - with the help of Osborn and Quinn.
The REMF fund was set up after Brighton fan Robert Eaton was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York City in 2001 and has since raised more than £100,000 for disadvantaged children in America, Sussex, Croydon and Africa.
The games are fiercely contested - obviously - with plenty of tasty challenges. Just ask former Albion star Peter Ward who was kicked all over the park during his first involvement in the annual game in 2009. He will be turning out for the Seagulls this year again.
Organising the Palace team this year - who will be decked in the evil sash kit - is Five Year Plan editor Jim Daly and he is desperate for the Eagles to win.
"We've lost the last two years to slender score lines so it's time to bring the trophy back to South London," he said.
“Obviously, it is a brilliant cause, which helps underprivileged kids in Sussex, Croydon and America and it’s great to be able to help out each year, but I’d be lying if I said the result didn’t matter.
"We're delighted Simon and Robert are giving up their time to help us out too in the true spirit of charity and what the night is all about!"
To see if Osborn and Quinn can help the Palace fans to a victory this year come down to the Dripping Pan in Lewes on Friday May 2nd. Kick-off is 7.45pm and entry is £5 with U16s £2 (or free if accompanied adult)
For more information or to donate to the fund visit remf.org.uk
Palace have a fair few internationals in their ranks, but Jim Daly believes there is one player who deserves an England call-up this summer.
At every major international tournament there are always a few surprise selections. A 16-year-old Theo Walcott was included in England's 2006 squad although never saw a second of pitch time. And in 1990 a 42-year-old Roger Milla was one of the stars of the tournament despite being old enough to be manager!
But should Crystal Palace right-back Joel Ward get chosen in Roy Hodgson's final 24 it wouldn't be a surprise…at least not to those in South East London.
Ward has been the Eagles most consistent performer this season, not just at his chosen right-back berth but also at left-back, centre-back and central midfield, and is on course to win Player of the Year. Not bad for a 24-year-old who had never played in the top flight before.
Ward's expertise lie in his excellent positioning, lung-busting runs forward, surgically precise distribution and an unwavering passion and desire that oozes out of every single Palace player this season. It's a combination that has made him the Eagles best player, and also contributed to why Palace have been so difficult for clubs to break down since Tony Pulis arrived as manager.
He has a knack of keeping hold of the ball, too, no matter where the pressure is coming from. He has an ability to arch his back, and hold off an attacker while bringing the ball under control all in one swift move. He does it with the sort of guile of an experienced top-flight player, and not a player who is making his debut season in the Premier League.
He love a run down the wing too. Often it is at exactly the time when the defence needs a break, and Ward's skills at carrying the ball away from the final third and relieving pressure on the Palace back four are exceptional. Just look at John Terry's match winning own goal at Selhurst a couple of weeks ago - all thanks to a burst forward from Wardy.
He arrived from Portsmouth last summer described as a utility defender/midfielder who didn't really have a strong position, but was lumped in at right-back for the Eagles and had the task of replacing one of the best right-backs the club had ever produced in Nathaniel Clyne, who had just left for Southampton. But Ward slipped into the position with ease and arguably has performed even better than Clyney - something no Palace fan would be expecting to say.
But could he really get a place in Hodgson's squad? And would he warrant it? In my honest opinion; yes. He has made the seventh highest number of tackles of any player IN EUROPE and regularly features in newspaper and website Team of the Weeks, ahead of his right-back competition in the Three Lions squad.
For example; Chris Smalling is really a centre-back and looks out of sorts at full-back; Phil Jones is really a defensive midfielder and just looks terrifying with the faces he pulls; Glen Johnson is always injured and Kyle Walker is incredible erratic, brilliant one week and a complete shambles the next week.
Really, Ward's only competition for the England right-back spot is in fact Clyne, who definitely should have had a full international cap by now.
Hodgson has so far shown a bravery for picking players from non-traditional 'big' teams and seems to be swayed on form rather than reputation. For this reason Ward should be on the plane to Rio.