Crystal Palace Under-23s fell to a loss against bottom-of-the-table Charlton Athletic today as they sat on the back foot from early on to miss out on taking three points from their south London rivals.
A converted Kian Flanagan free-kick wasn't enough for the Eagles today as they battled against a superior side within the confines of a chilled Valley Stadium.
Charlton began immediately on the front foot and, picking up the ball on the edge of the box, Anfermee Dijksteel squandered what seemed to be a promising chance as, with space around him, he looked up only to blaze the ball from distance over Dion-Curtis Henry's crossbar.
The following 10 minutes then became a gridlocked battle with both teams defending deep with the other in possession until the home side saw another chance go begging when the ball flashed across the face of the Palace goal before the Addick's first-team midfielder Tarique Fosu sent a cross close-range into the relieved arms of Henry.
Beginning to press to enforce their pressure on Palace, the hosts then came too close for comfort by the Eagles' goal-line again and Nikola Tavares, facing goal, was forced to poke the ball towards Henry, who hit it clear from danger without hesitation.
Although not seriously threatened, Palace seemed to be on the back foot and Charlton's grip on the game was epitomised when Tavares gave away a free-kick on the edge of the Palace box which was fired into the crossbar by Fosu before cannoning off for Henry to claw out of the sky.
Fortunate not to be a goal down already, Palace then risked their luck again by allowing George Lapslie a glimpse at goal before he promptly released a thunderous effort which was parried well by a leaping Henry.
Charlton's pressure wouldn't relent and the Eagles sat were pinned back as their hosts continued to earn corners and force the Palace rearguard into action. Charlton finally broke the deadlock in smart fashion when Taylor Maloney latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the box before rifling it home into the back of Palace's net as the game entered its 30th minute.
Little occurred during what was left of the first half and the two sides went into half-time perhaps divided, perhaps unfairly, by just the one goal.
Starting the second half in a far stronger fashion, the Eagles brought themselves level in the game when Tyrick Mitchell was felled on the edge of the box by Charlton's Lapslie, who earned a booking for the clumsy challenge. Kian Flanagan stepped up to strike the resulting free-kick and his well-drilled effort found itself breaking through the Addicks' wall and nestling into Chris Maxwell's net.
Charlton, however, having then re-asserted themselves by putting further pressure on the Palace backline, regained their lead as Fosu battled with Tavares on the edge of the Eagles' box before aiming a shot at goal which misfired off the Palace captain's leg and curled around Henry, whose low dive was in vain.
Charlton could have added to their lead after Dijksteel burst down the right-wing to chip a cross into the box which Jamie Mascoll met well but could only head wide.
Palace looked to haul themselves back into the game when Rob Street struck fiercely at shot-stopper Maxwell, who held the dipping ball firmly against his chest.
The match ground itself out with little chances of note arising for either side amongst a final 20 minutes filled with tough challenges and half-chances not capitalised upon.
For Palace, Gio Mcgregor perhaps came closest, however, when in the dying moments of the match he launched a shot just over the home side's crossbar.
But it was Charlton who finished the game celebrating as Fosu latched onto a squared ball in the box to slot home seconds before the referee blew his whistle for full-time.
Palace: Henry, Tavares, Mitchell, M.Boateng, Keutcha (Aveiro 79), Woods, Trialist, Flanagan, Street, McGregor, Brown.
Subs: Tupper, D.Boateng, Addy.
Charlton: Maxwell, Dijksteel, Bowry, Stevenson, Sarpong-Wiredu, Mascoll, Maloney, Lapslie, Marshall (Aouachria 80), Fosu, Vetokele (Kennedy 45).
Subs: Maynard-Brewer, Yao, Dempsey.
Pictures: Ben Peters.