Having matched a Premier League side for three hours of football over two games, it took three extra-time goals from Stoke City to finally see off Palace as the Eagles bowed out of the FA Cup with their heads held high despite losing 4-1 at the Britannia Stadium.
A mixture of regular starters and fringe players took to the field on a chilly Staffordshire evening with 17 year old Hiram Boateng making his first appearance for the Eagles, and they carved out the first opportunity of the tie after four minutes when Matthew Parsons crossed the ball from the left flank but Aaron Wilbraham couldn't direct his header on target.
Having restricted Stoke to a wild shot from Jonathan Walters and a deflected effort from Dean Whitehead, a drab half suddenly had its major flashpoint in the 34th minute when Wilfried Zaha was adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Ryan Shawcross for a Palace penalty, having three minutes earlier been booked for simulation in the area. Jermaine Easter stepped up to take the spot-kick but saw a tame effort pushed onto the post by Thomas Sorensen as the chance went begging.
Undeterred, Ian Holloway's finished the opening half the better but.Stoke came out after the break looking much brighter and Whitehead forced Lewis Price into a diving save with a shot from the corner of the box, and Glenn Whelan tried to catch the Eagles shot-stopper out with a audacious free-kick attempt from 45 yards which narrowly missed the target.
Tony Pulis shuffled his pack and brought on Kenwyne Jones just after the hour and he made an instant impression as he rattled the base of the post with a fierce drive after being teed up by Etherington on 66 minutes, but seconds later the pair combined again to hand Stoke the lead.
The Trinidad and Tobago international headed the winger's cross towards goal, but Price allowed his tame attempt to squirm out of his grasp and the ball dropped agonisingly into the net to gift the Potters the advantage.
Despite the setback, the Eagles pushed forward and Easter found himself one-on-one with Sorensen but could only fire straight at the giant Danish keeper, whilst Price got down well to thwart Etherington with 15 minutes to play.
Andre Moritz saw a shot deflect into the side netting on 82 minutes as Palace pressed for an equaliser, and remarkably they were handed a second opportunity to convert from 12 yards when Jonny Williams was tripped in the area by Shawcross, but this time Glenn Murray was on hand to send Sorensen the wrong way and the game into extra-time, but not before Yannick Bolasie and Jones both had chances to clinch the win in injury time.
Having had a few minutes to catch their breath after a pulsating last 10 minutes, Palace were caught napping when the classy Etherington whipped in a cross towards the far post and Walters ghosted in at the back post to nod the ball in from a yard out to restore the Potters' lead after four minutes of the additional 30.
The only other action of note in the opening half of extra time saw Etherington on hand again to put a corner onto the head of Shawcross but the England defender couldn't guide the ball on target, whilst Moritz took aim from 25 yards but saw his shot fizz well wide.
With the Eagles were throwing everyone forward but they were caught on the counter-attack on 109 minutes when the ball fell to Jones in the centre circle and he fed Walters on the right flank, and he raced to to coolly tuck the ball past Price to seal the victory, and with Palace running on empty Stoke notched a flattering fourth goal in the final minute when Cameron Jerome rounded Price and slotted home from a tight angle and set up a visit from Manchester City in the fourth round.
Stoke City: Sorensen, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson, Kightly, Whitehead, Nzonzi, Etherington, Walters, Crouch. Subs: Nash, Whelan, Jones, Owen, Adam, Upson, Jerome.
Palace: Price, Ramage, Delaney, Gabbidon, Parsons, Easter, Jedinak, Boateng, Williams, Zaha, Wilbraham. Subs: Speroni, Bolasie, Murray, Moxey, Moritz, Wynter, Taylor.