Academy class

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Thursday December 8th 2011, Fulham FC Training Ground, Motspur Park.                                                                                                                                          

Fulham Academy U/18 0-1 Crystal Palace Academy U/18. KO 17:00, actual KO 17:15.

Admission free by ticket, attendance about 80.

My 1st look at a youth fixture for quite some time. Having never visited Fulham’s Training ground at Motspur Park before, and being vaguely aware that it was located near to where I used to live in Sutton, I thought I should tick this venue for the rather unusual time of 17:00 of a Thu evening. Arranging an early departure from work Nr Slough, I just managed to make the 29 miles slogging it round the M25/A3 to SW London by the 17:00 KO, thankfully FFC had decided for some reason to delay KO until 17:15, allowing time to get settled in the stand, which is set someway back from the pitch, but sheltering us from the combination of light rain and gusty winds that were apparently at the time causing havoc in Scotland.

Rather frustratingly for me no team sheet was issued by FFC, which was rather poor, since one can clearly see inside the many rooms in the buildings they have, that they have the facility to knock a team sheet up quickly by computer to issue to the fans/parents etc who made the effort to turn up, especially when one considers they produce match tickets! But, as there is always an element of suspicion about those attending youth academy games, with spies in every camp looking to scout and poach players I did not make any effort to obtain line ups from club officials.

Anyway, the game, as I said on a gusty and occasionally wet evening the two teams put up a reasonable show. I have to say I was very impressed by the skill level, pace and work rate of the young Palace team, who took a 31st minute lead from a neat shot from just inside the area from Bola . The game was pretty even, with possession shared equally, but whereas Fulham liked to attack slowly, Palace looked to break with more pace. Generally the skill level was high from both teams, played on what looked like a 3G surface that played well in the conditions.

At Half time, one of the temporary 6 man dugouts turned over completely in the wind, losing half of one panel in the process, in the 2nd half the Fulham players sat in the damaged dugout sheltered near the stand!

In the 2nd half Fulham tried to force the pace a little more and did create a number of opportunities but were quite wasteful in front of goal, and Palace were able to hold out fairly comfortably to their 1 goal win. The following week in the FA Youth Cup, Dec 13 Fulham host Carlisle at Motspur Park and Palace host Everton at Selhurst Park, on this showing I wouldn’t be surprised to see both go through to the next round. (Palace lost 1-2 after extra time, Fulham won 3-1).

Palace starting line up, obtained later >

Fitzsimons, Dymond, Inniss (c), Taylor, Williams, Boateng, Sow, Daniel, Clarke, Bola (1), Allassani.

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