There were plenty of fireworks on the pitch in an entertaining Bonfire Night game, but the Palace under 21 side saw their three game unbeaten run go up in smoke as two late goals ensured a 3-2 win for Middlesbrough at Crawley Town's Broadfield Stadium.
In front of a watching Ian Holloway, the Eagles started brightly and Matt Parson stung the hands of Connor Ripley before the visitors were gifted the lead after five minutes. Under pressure from Matthew Waters, Lewis Price dribbled past the striker but his attempted short pass fell straight to Ryan Brobbel who had the simple task of rolling the ball into the empty net.
In bitterly cold conditions the game struggled to heat up in the opening 20 minutes until Kwesi Appiah hit a rocket that just missed the top corner, and the pacy striker came even closer on 25 minutes when he rounded Ripley but Kyle Oliver did well to clear his acute shot off the line. An uneventful first half ended on a low as Jonny Williams limped off after just 30 minutes.
Just like the firework displays scattered around the ground throughout the interval, the second half was much more explosive and just 30 seconds had elapsed when Appiah picked the ball up on the edge of the box, and saw his first attempt blocked by a defender before crashing the rebound in off the post to equalise.
He had a great chance to double his tally when Hiram Boateng's pass ricocheted into his path, but when faced one-on-one with the goalkeeper could only push his shot wide. The youngster was nearly made to pay a minute later when Jake Fowler broke down the left wing and his low cross found Waters who smacked the post with a first-time shot.
However Palace took the lead on the hour mark when the lively Jason Banton dribbled along the byline and after his cross wasn't cleared by the Boro defence, the winger slammed the ball home to put his side ahead.
Price made up for his earlier error by producing a hat-trick of decent saves in a 10 minute spell, preventing Lewis Sirrell twice from long range as well as Fowler as the Teesiders pushed men forward but Banton's goal had given him plenty of confidence, and 10 minutes from time a turn of pace saw him burst into the Boro box but a a rasping shot was pushed away well by Ripley.
Palace had got into the opposition box on numerous occasions in the second 45 but couldn't find the killer ball, and they were punished on 83 minutes when Boro substitute Curtis Edwards curled a sublime free-kick over the Palace wall and into the bottom corner to make it 2-2.
Despite the Eagles controlling the second half, it was the visitors who snatched the win in injury time when Christian Burgess rose highest to headed home a free-kick and leave Broadfield Stadium with all three points.
Palace: Price, Taylor, Parsons, Martin, Gabbidon, O'Keefe (Daniel 62), Williams (Fenwick 30), Boateng, Sekajja, Appiah (Allassani 62), Banton. Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Wynter.
Middlesbrough: Ripley, Bennett, Weldon, Dolan, Burgess, Oliver, Fowler (Rivers 81), Brobbel (Jones 55), Waters (Edwards 70), Kneeshaw, Sirrell. Subs not used: Edwards, Morris, Montgomery.