Crystal Palace U18 v Brentford U18

11am  23 January 2016

Under 18 Professional Development League 2
Crystal Palace U18 3 Brentford U18 4 (att 60)

I was in two minds whether I really fancied the very early start and long drive needed to reach Palace's youth team ground for an 11am kick off.

I'd emailed the club earlier in the week to ask about admission, as it's a long way to go if there's a risk of being turned away at the gate, and the club has a reputation of insisting youth fixtures are "behind closed doors".

They replied on Friday to say I was able to attend, and that my name would be passed to security, so I decided I ought to make the effort. I left home at 6am, and found a parking spot close the to Goals Beckenham North centre, in south east London, about four-and-a-half hours later.

Palace have begun borrowing the pitches here this season. It's just across Copers Cope Road from their training ground, where youth team games used to be played. Palace's "security" might have had my name, but no one asked me for it and there seemed to be no restrictions at all on entering the ground. In fact, as the Goals centre is open to the public, I don't see how they could stop people.

From the pavilion, of what was once the Nat West Bank sports ground, there are football pitches to the left and the right, both running lengthways. The under 18s were on the right hand pitch, while Palace and Brentford met at under 16 level on the left pitch. Both pitches had dugouts on the near sides, and a railed off far side for spectators.

Having made such an effort to get the game, I was rewarded with great morning's entertainment. The home side went ahead early on, but it didn't take Brentford long to make it 1-1. Then the visitors ended the first half in the best possible way, scoring twice in stoppage time.

Crystal Palace weren't finished though, and in an excellent second period they scored twice to make it 3-3, before Brentford edged back in front with what proved to be the game's final goal.

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