martes, 25 de octubre de 2011

Crystal Palace 2 - 0 Southampton

Any hopes Crystal Palace retained of keeping Jonathan Williams's precocious talent under wraps have been dashed. The club can relish a Carling Cup quarter-final after momentarily deflating Southampton's optimism with a performance that, having sparked only sporadically, was eventually illuminated by the latest teenage talent to emerge in the hosts' ranks. Williams's cover is well and truly blown.

Williams has only recently graduated to the first team and this season signed a new long-term contract with the club who have nurtured him, tying him to Palace until 2014. Already a member of Gary Speed's senior Wales squad, the 18-year-old is serving notice of his talent on a frequent basis and has the ability to inspire.

This was one of his quieter performances but he still created the tie's opening goal, slid in by Darren Ambrose inside the six-yard box, and won the penalty that assured progress. "The first was a fantastic little run, and the second a young kid runs at people in the box and is dangerous," said the Palace manager, Dougie Freedman. "I expected the impact he's had this season so far. His temperament is fine and he plays the game intelligently. He's a fantastic young man with a great attitude."

Both these sides can take huge pride in the conveyor belt of talent they generate through their academies. Southampton handed the 16-year-old James Ward-Prowse a debut here among 10 changes from the weekend and he excelled, all quiet confidence in a deep-lying midfield role with clear quality in his distribution and awareness. There were three other development players on the bench, and Ben Reeves in the team.

But both will be fretting over what effects the newly accepted elite player performance plan, which may lead to raw talent being plucked away more easily by clubs in the top flight, will have on their set-up.

"We have a long-term vision, and we'd like to try and get 50% of the players in our team having come through the ranks," said Nigel Adkins. "We're totally committed to the youth set-up at Southampton. That philosophy will not change.

"James was very assured, and I'm delighted he played the whole 90 minutes. You want there to be a pathway into the first team, and James and a number of our development players train with the seniors and benefit from regular contact with the seniors."

His players monopolised possession here but were blunted in front of goal, their best opportunity flicked wide by Jonathan Forte, leaving Palace their opportunity to capitalise. In the last eight of this competition for the first time in nine years, and with young talent propelling the team, this corner of south London can afford to be optimistic again.

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