The academy at Crystal Palace has unearthed an astonishing amount of rough diamonds over the last few years, ready to be challenged mentally, physically and technically in what can only be described as a hostile league; the Championship. For a raw new blood, the tenacity, pace and strength of opponents will shock the system but ultimately give them the experience to progress in their careers.
Kieron Cadogan hopes to follow those who have leapt up to the plate before him, such as Nathaniel Clyne, Ben Watson, Victor Moses, Sean Scannell, John Bostock, Lee Hills, the list could go on. Some of those mentioned have contracts with Premiership clubs. Cadogan has a lot to live up to.
A lesser known youngster of the squad, fans of Coventry and Leicester may be familiar of him, but this season is the one in which he will have his greatest chance in the team. When Sean Scannell limped off in a pre-season match against Exeter, the whole club groaned simultaneously, another key player out for the start of the campaign. But it was much worse than first feared. A specialist confirmed that the winger, who set up Ambrose’s goal against Sheffield Wednesday last season, would be out for 6 months. The disappointment around the club was expected, all the players devastated for Sean, but you can’t help but feel there was one player licking his lips at the same time.
Cadogan hasn’t found it easy to achieve first team football, having been at 5 clubs already. A youth starlet at Arsenal, Fulham, and then dropping down to Fisher Athletic, before coming to the renowned academy at Palace. As a right winger and occasional forward, Cadogan finds the net regularly as well as helping team mates score their own, two attributes that set him apart from the rest.
Kieron signed professional terms for Palace in December 2008 when he was just 18, going onto make his full debut under Neil Warnock in an unspectacular match against Coventry in the April. Coming on as a 60th minutes substitute, Cadogan showed the qualities he possesses to his onlookers and made an astonishing impact. 12 minutes into his first appearance, Cadogan stole in on some sloppy Sky Blue defending, rounded the keeper and slotted home with the confidence and composure of someone twice his age. For most, a dull and forgettable game, not so for the youngster, able to broadcast his abilities and stake his claim for more time in the side.
That Goal Versus Coventry, April 09
Not so however. 3 more substitute appearances followed that season, barely giving Cadogan enough time to progress or get into the games. The next season followed the same storyline sadly as the club made possibly the transfer of the season by bringing in Darren Ambrose from local rivals Charlton on a free. Darren stole the right wing immediately and kept that position all season. With his regular and quite spectacular goals, it was vital that he was on the pitch for as long as possible which gave Cadogan no hope, before being subsequently thrown out to Burton Albion on loan.
Finally, a chance to hold down a first team spot and get some game time! Well think again. Cadogan failed to impress at Burton, making only 3 appearances, the physicality of the league preventing his natural game. This enabled him however to return to Palace with more experience, a factor that influenced his form in the reserves. Last season, Cadogan was the leading scorer in the reserves with 17 goals including a hat-trick versus Lewes.
Cadogan is the sort of player who has natural ability with a ball at his feet. Capable of scaring the pants off of defenders, he is eager to cut inside even though he is right footed. A few clever and eye catching tricks makes space while pleasing onlookers in the crowd, and if that doesn’t get rid of the unlucky man who’s job it is to mark him, then Cadogan has a turn of pace that Michael Owen can only dream of nowadays.
Weaknesses are evident at his age however; his muscular figure being one of them. Holding the ball up is a difficulty when you have a 12 stone defender in your back, but that should be addressed as he matures and adapts to the league. Although his partner on the right, Nathaniel Clyne, needs little help with defensive duties, it goes without saying that the person ahead of him should track back. From recent matches, it looks like Cadogan is improving in this area of his game.
It certainly looked like it on Saturday against Leicester, his first start for Palace. After a shaky start, he set up Ambrose for the 2nd goal, only to make a clever run and pass for Wilfred Zaha which then led to Alan Lee’s goal, a third for Palace. After a great pre-season and a solid start to the new one, Cadogan definitely looks like one to follow this season.