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21 November 2016

Gerard Nash's U23s leave it late to take all three points against Crystal Palace

A last-minute George Fowler proved to be decisive as Town’s U23s won a thrilling encounter with Crystal Palace at Playford Road.

Centre-back, Fowler rose the highest to meet an Andre Dozzell corner in the dying seconds to net his second of the game, and seal all three points.

The Blues fell behind within the opening five minutes with Levi Lumeka nipping in front of his defender to turn Randell Williams’ teasing cross past Harry Wright in the Town goal, and Wright had to be alert soon after to deny Andre Coker from close range as he got a strong hand behind a powerful effort.

Adam McDonnell and Ben Morris both came close, but it was James Blanchfield who levelled the scoreline, the midfielder ghosting in at the back post to nod home a Dozzell corner with just under half an hour played.

Town went into the break with the lead, and Fowler grabbed his first of the afternoon in a similar fashion to Blanchfield’s earlier header, but this time it was a deep Kundai Benyu corner that caught out the Palace defence, allowing Fowler space to head in.

Both Luke Woolfenden and Blanchfield had ideal opportunities early in the second period to extend Town’s lead, but the visitors restored parity on the hour mark.

Coker wrestled the ball from Chris Smith high up the pitch before racing through to score, a decision which Blues ‘keeper Wright disputed, leading to him picking up a booking for dissent.

Benyu forced a fantastic save from Palace ‘keeper Billy Granger soon after, but a slack moment from the midfielder allowed Noor Husin to rob him of the ball and slide through Lumeka who made no mistake, poking the ball past the onrushing Wright.

Gerard Nash’s side pressed to get back into the game and managed to pull level with Morris’ closing down paying off, as the striker blocked an attempted Palace clearance before picking up the loose ball, keeping his composure to beat a defender and poke into the net.

With the game looking like it was heading towards a stalemate, Fowler crashed a header past Granger from 10 yards out to seal victory for Town.

Town: Wright, Woolfenden, Smith, Fowler, Webber, McDonnell, Benyu (McKenry, 77), Blanchfield, Dozzell, Morris, McLoughlin. Not Used: Hayes, Salaudeen, Folami, Downes.

Goals: Blanchfield (27) Fowler (45, 90) Morris (83)

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