Prolific young striker stands out as Bristol City U23s beat Colchester United U23s

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Young Robins made it three wins in a row at home to leapfrog Cardiff City in the PDL2, after 3-1 result.

Bristol City U23s moved joint top of the Professional Development League 2 South section on Tuesday afternoon after a come-from-behind victory in BS3.

The Young Robins played their latest PDL2 afternoon fixture at Ashton Gate, relocated from their High Performance Centre Failand training ground, looking for a third straight home win after defeating Millwall and Swansea City on their own turf in recent weeks.

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And they got it, to keep the good run going. Chay Cooper put Colchester United in front in the first half, before the outstanding Seb Palmer-Houlden equalised from a Callum Wood free kick.

Palmer-Houlden then rifled in low to secure the three points, and put City level with Ipswich Town at the top of their section, with the Tractor Boys to come to the South West at the end of the month. Omar Taylor-Clarke wrapped things up in injury time.

Josh Owers captained the side as Bristol City made just two changes from the team that beat Swansea City 1-0 the week before, Olly Thomas and Mac Boyd coming into the side for Harvey Wiles-Richards and Barney Soady.

With academy director Brian Tinnion watching from the Dolman Stand and the senior squad in South Yorkshire preparing to face Barnsley in the Championship, the game started in even fashion.

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A loose touch from 16-year-old Jamie Lebel-Knight almost allowed the visitors to open the scoring, before Zak Bell, called up by Wales U18s in the week, smashed at goal from 30 yards, drawing a save after 10 minutes.

A lightning break from a U’s corner then almost saw the impressive Olly Thomas net at the near post, before Colchester’s Donnell Thomas missed a golden chance to open the scoring himself, as he failed to connect effectively with a low cross, before 20 minutes.

Palmer-Houlden had to convert when Khadji played the prolific U18s striker in on goal (who has 22 goals for the U18s and U23s this season), only for his shot to go the wrong side of the post, but the young forward was to soon make up for it.

Centre-back Duncan Idehen crudely hacked down Donnell Thomas and was yellow carded after half an hour and the visitors took the lead soon after.

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Chay Cooper slotted in from inside the area after Donnell Thomas’ low cross had landed in the midfielder’s path, with the Young Robins exposed down their left flank.

A Taylor-Clarke free-kick went over the bar after Owers was caught late on the edge of the penalty area, with the midfielder winning plenty of ball high up the pitch, just seconds later.

Wood then rampaged down the left and his deep cross found Palmer-Houlden for the equaliser in the 38th minute. A deflected effort found the roof of the net.

A great burst from midfield then saw another chance for Palmer-Houlden, but his shot was blocked this time.

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Owers was lucky to just get a yellow card for a high studs-up challenge before the break, with another Palmer-Houlden effort saved in the last seconds of the first half, after a brilliant Khadji run to the byline and cut-back, which on another day may have resulted in a penalty for the City no.7.

Wood then climbed high to glance a corner just wide after the break, before 16-year-old Boyd was down low to stop Colchester’s Bradley Ihionvien. The U’s Donnell Thomas, ordinarily playing deeper than in this game, shot low past the far post too, as the hour mark approached.

Instead it was City who took the lead, on 58 minutes, as 16-year-old Olly Thomas ran from midfield and released to Palmer-Houlden to drill into the far corner and turn the game around with his second goal.

And shortly afterwards Prince Henry blasted over the bar, following a smart turn in the box and lovely touch from Olly Thomas, before being replaced by Callum Hutton for the final 25 minutes.

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An Olly Thomas-to-Palmer-Houlden combination - with the pair in fine form - almost saw City net their third goal, while some brave goalkeeping saw Boyd rush from goal to clear from the edge of his box, receiving a shoulder to the face from Samson Tovide.

Josey Casa Grande came on for the final 10 minutes to see the game out, with Boyd recovering to the side of the pitch.

And despite that distraction, Palmer-Houlden almost capitalised on a late Colchester goalkeeper error, with Zak Bell picking up a late yellow for a tenacious lunge, but the West Country development side sewed the game up in the sixth minute of injury time.

Omar Taylor-Clarke poked home Olly Thomas’s centre, after another move involving Palmer-Houlden, as Ali Hines’ team took home the three points.

Bristol City (4-3-3): Boyd (Casa-Grande 86’); Wood, Idehen, Knight-Lebel, Bell; Owers, Khadji (Owusu-Antwi 90+6), Taylor-Clarke; Thomas, Henry (Hutton 66’), Palmer-Houlden.

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