Crystal Palace Under-18s 1 Blues Under-18s 1

The St. Andrew’s scholars took the lead in the capital but were pegged back moments later in what was a competitive, high-energy encounter.

Tommy Anderson’s 16th minute free-kick sailed through a crowded penalty area and crept inside the far post to set the visitors off to the perfect start. 

But the lead lasted just five minutes as the Eagles equalised with a breakaway strike midway through the first-half. 

Palace were aiming for a fourth successive victory heading into the game and Spooner was pleased with how his starlets stuck to the task against such a dangerous outfit.

“I was really pleased with the performance and it was a very good game to watch,” said Blues’ Lead Professional Development Coach. 

“We were in control for much of the first period and changed our shape from the previous week because we expected them to be strong so we added another midfield player in there.

“It gave us a little bit more defensive strength but it didn’t take anything away from the attacking side of the game. 

“We moved the ball when we had it, counter attacked very well and broke with pace and supporting runners.

“The only real disappointment is that we conceded so soon after scoring ourselves. That allowed them to get back in it themselves.”

Palace, who currently third in the Under-18 PDL South, put Blues under intense pressure in the second period but couldn’t break through what was a resolute back-line.

“It was good for us because it doesn’t happen to us very often so we had to defend in numbers, put blocks in and do a lot of the necessary things that you’ll have to do when you go away with the first team,” Spooner added.

“You won’t dominate games for 90 minutes so it was a great learning curve for the boys and it was good for them to get put under pressure. 

“Two of the back four were schoolboys, Ben Forest and Mitch Roberts, so that was pleasing. 

“Mitch made his debut and applied himself very well. He played with a lot of maturity against a very quick and lively lad so it was a good test for him at times. 

“We had another three schoolboys on the bench which was nice and it gave them a taste of football at this level.”

Despite the curtain coming down on their league campaign, the youngsters will be in action in the coming weeks with a series of home and away friendlies lined up.