A dramatic last-minute free kick from Sullay Kaikai secured a remarkable victory for Palace’s development side, who rallied from 3-0 down to take all three points from a seven-goal thriller against Queens Park Rangers.
Goals from Dylan Carreiro, Tom Hitchcock and Mike Petrasso had put Rangers into a commanding position with less than half an hour on the clock, but Kyle de Silva's brace and Ibra Sekajja looked to have earned a draw for Palace, before Kaikai stepped up to steal a last-gasp win for Gary Issott’s side.
Jonny Williams was included in the starting line-up and got 45 minutes of valuable game time under his belt, as he stepped up his recovery from the ankle injury he picked up playing for Wales back in September.
But it was in the Welsh international’s second-half absence that Palace turned the game around to record an unforgettable victory, after what was a lightning start by QPR.
It took just 90 seconds for the hosts to make their home advantage count, as the lively Carreiro fired Rangers in front.
And it wasn’t long before they were able to celebrate the doubling of that lead. Mike Petrasso should have done so on 13 minutes, but he blazed over the bar, before Carreiro turned provider three minutes later, whipping in a beautiful free kick for Hitchcock to slam home.
Gary Issott’s young side were rocked and it was QPR who continued to make all the early running. It came as no great surprise then when Petrasso added the Hoops’ third, weaving his way through the Eagles’ back line on 22 minutes before coolly slotting past the advancing Lewis Price.
Palace responded well though and got themselves a foothold in the game four minutes later. The in-form Kyle de Silva again displayed his natural finishing ability in front of goal, nonchalantly chipping the ball over Aaron Lennox to make it 3-1 and give the Eagles hope.
Undeterred by the goal, it was Marc Bircham’s side who continued to carve out the best of the chances. Mo Shariff fired a speculative 30-yard drive just over Price’s crossbar, before Petrasso provided Carreiro with a gilt-edged chance to net his second of the game, only to see his effort fly over the bar.
There was still time for winger Shariff to threaten the Eagles goal again in first half stoppage time, but Price did well to beat his strike away and keep the arrears at two going into the break.
And that save was to prove crucial, as Palace mounted a remarkable comeback within the opening 15 minutes of the second half. First de Silva found space inside the QPR box and fired home his second of the game from 12 yards out, before Ibra Sekajja planted a header beyond Lennox on 57 minutes to bring Palace level.
Having dictated play for much of the first half, it was the hosts who all of a sudden found themselves on the back foot and they almost went behind just after the hour mark, when Jerome Williams got forward from left back and hit his shot into the side netting.
Half time introduction Kaikai, who replaced the returning Jonny Williams, twice went close to handing Palace the lead, before Sekajja forced Lennox into a fine stop after breaking the offside trap.
The striker then squandered an even better chance as he somehow failed to hit the target from inside the box and moments later, Shariff mis-hit his volley when he only had Price to beat at the other end.
Samba Diakite was next to try his luck for the hosts but he also failed to test Price, before de Silva was denied a hat-trick by another inspired Lennox save.
A frenetic final 10 minutes ensued as both sides went in search of a late winner, which eventually came from Kaikai.
After winning a free-kick around 25 yards from goal, the substitute stepped up and flashed his set piece beyond the QPR wall and goalkeeper Lennox, to complete a stunning comeback and hand the young Eagles a second consecutive victory.
QPR under-21s: Lennox, Gibbons, Monthe, Laurent, Young, Magri, Shariff, Diakite, Hitchcock, Carreiro (Skapetis, 58), Petrasso
QPR under-21 subs: Lumley, Fitzpatrick, Kpekawa, Brown.
Palace under-21s: Price, Gordon, Jerome Williams, Boateng, Inniss, Wynter, Udumaga, Dymond, Sekajja (Croll 90), Jonny Williams (Kaikai 46), De Silva.
Palace under-21 subs: Fitzsimons, Tieuku, Taylor.