Crystal Palace Under-23s held on to a slender lead this afternoon as they netted early against a visiting Queens Park Rangers to pull themselves three points higher up the table as they close the gap on league-leaders Ipswich Town.
The R's opened the game with the first chance of note as they broke to Palace's end of the pitch where they landed a shot at Joe Tupper in goal, however the two-time first-team substitute was equal to the effort and got both hands behind the ball.
The Eagles responded barely minutes later with an intense spell in the Hoops' box, but, despite persistent crosses and a dense throng attempting to land a foot on the ball, their offensive dominance yielded nothing as forward Rob Street gave away a free-kick.
Palace's pressure did earn them the opener, though, when Kian Flanagan threaded a fine ball through QPR's backline to Levi Lumeka, who, one-on-one with 'keeper Myles Bowman, happily slotted home with ease.
Lumeka then sought to double his tally as he stormed into the box before unleashing an effort at Bowman's near post, though the west London shot-stopper threw a palm up to deflect it over.
The game was all Palace's following their lead, and Sam Woods was unable to double their advantage when he rose highest in the box from a corner only to head tamely into Bowman's up-stretched arms.
Both Lumeka and Flanagan - each looking sharp - then had chances to further the Eagles' lead, but Lumeka was denied by a grounded Bowman as he raced at goal and Flanagan saw his effort from outside the box deflected out of play.
Opening the second half, QPR registered their first genuine chance as Mikel Platt launched himself at a crossed ball to head past Tupper only for Tyler Brown to acrobatically clear it from the line.
Palace were then left frustrated at the other end of the pitch as what appeared to be a nailed-on penalty was not awarded to Brandon Pierrick, who was felled in the box. A rasping drive from the heart of the R's midfield then sailed over Palace's bar before Lumeka tripped over his own boots trying to break into the visitor's box.
Gio McGregor then came tantalisingly close when he launched an effort at Bowman's goal, but it was pushed up and over by the shot-stopper to leave the second-half's first exchanges a stalemate.
QPR weren't to be pinned back by the Eagles' pressure, however, and camped inside the Palace box for a while on the 75th minute, but their efforts at goal were in vain.
McGregor was not to be defeated by Bowman with his second chance and settled matters later when, with only added time remaining, he let loose an astonishing effort which flew high into QPR's net, the visiting 'keeper unable to get close to its speeding trajectory.
Palace: Tupper, Tavares, Mitchell, M.Boateng, Woods, Brown, Pierrick, McGregor, Street, Flanagan, Lumeka.
Subs: D.Boateng, Webber, Aveiro, Robertson, Chamberlin-Gayle.
QPR: Bowman, Felix, Genovesi, Carlyle, Fox, Wells, Tilt, Mesias, Platt, Gartow, Shodipo.
Subs: Bettache, Bazozowski, Bawsal-Mcnulty, Gubbins.