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Under-18s stage stunning comeback to beat Crystal Palace

Spurs 4-2 Crystal Palace (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 04 March 2023, 13:30|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s staged a stunning second-half comeback to win a six-goal thriller against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Trailing 2-0 at half-time after a below par first-half performance, we looked inspired in the second period and momentum shifted soon after the break when the visitors were reduced to 10 men and Rio Kyerematen fired home in the aftermath of the resulting free-kick.

Our opening goal sparked confidence and belief into our play and moments later we turned the game on its head when Callum Olusesi scored two goals in quick succession before substitute Tyrese Hall saved our best until last with a superb strike to secure a 4-2 win.

In a cagey opening period, both sides were evenly matched with chances few and far between but we carved out the first opportunity five minutes in when Oliver Irow turned Max McKnight's low cross over the bar. The visitors started to grow into the game and had the first shot on target in the 13th minute when Franco Umeh-Chibueze cut inside from the right but his finish failed to trouble debutant Carey Bloedorn.

On 18 minutes, the visitors did trouble us though, breaking the deadlock with defender Caleb Kporha producing a fine solo effort. That lead was then doubled on 30 minutes as Asher Agbinone's strike from 25 yards out thundered in off the crossbar. Despite the setback, we responded well with Damola Ajayi and captain Jamie Donley going close before the break.

Looking for a reaction from his team, coach Stuart Lewis made a change at the break with Yusuf Akhamrich replacing Irow and we came out rejuvenated with the bit between our teeth, beginning to pile pressure on the Eagles' defence.

And it showed just six minutes in when Palace midfielder Umeh-Chibueze was given his marching orders by referee Elliot Spencer after picking up a second yellow card for a late lunge on Jahziah Linton near the Palace box on the left-hand side. Following a lengthy stoppage before the free-kick was taken due to Palace protests and Kporha going off for an injury, Akhamrich caught their defence napping and played a short ball square to Kyerematen who despatched a shot from just inside the area to beat Eagles' keeper Jackson Izquierdo via a deflection to halve the deficit on 53 minutes.

Playing with the confidence a goal brings, what followed was one-way traffic towards the Palace goal and, in the space of 10 second-half minutes, we turned the game around in dramatic fashion. Firstly, on 58 minutes, Olusesi was on hand to steer home from close range after good work from Akhamrich and Donley to keep the ball alive. Then, less than five minutes later, Olusesi doubled his tally to send us in front. Palace failed to properly clear a corner and our number 10 was on hand to pounce on the loose ball and hit a well-struck shot which deflected off a defender past the helpless Palace keeper.

In order to sustain our intensity, we brought more fresh legs off the bench with Hall replacing Leo Black in midfield with 30 minutes to go and that decision was rewarded three minutes later when Hall scored our fourth - and what a goal. The midfielder picked the ball up 30 yards out on the right-hand side, cut inside onto his left foot and unleashed a sensational curling effort into the far left corner to secure the victory.

'Lots of positives to take'

Under-18s Coach Stuart admitted his side were slow to get going in the first half but was really pleased with the second-half reaction: "It was a typical 'game of two halves' in the scoreline and performance levels. In the first half, we were flat at times, lacked energy and weren't dynamic enough with our play but, in the second half, there was an improvement in that and there were some really good team and individual performances. There were lots of positives to take from the game. It was a great reaction after half-time and we showed great character and togetherness to come back and get the three points."

Spurs 4-2 Crystal Palace (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, McKnight, Dorrington, Andiyapan (Morgan 87), Linton, Ajayi, Black (Hall 68), Kyerematen, Irow (Akhamrich 45), Olusesi, Donley (c) (Lehane 79). Substitute (not used): Krasniqi.

Match data

Goals: Spurs – Kyerematen 53, Olusesi 58, 63, Hall 73; Palace – Kporha 18, Agbinone 30.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Donley; Palace – Umeh-Chibueze, Marsh.

Red card: Palace – Umeh-Chibueze.

Referee: Elliot Spencer.

Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.

Weather: Cloudy, seven degrees.