Crystal Palace’s under-21 side guaranteed their spot in the end of season play-offs by clinching the point they needed in a hard-fought encounter at Charlton Athletic.
The draw was not enough to secure the Eagles the Professional Development League 2 South title, but it was a step closer to topping the table and securing a home tie in the play-off semi-final. They will play Charlton again on Friday at home, in their penultimate game of the season.
Both sides went for the win from the off and it was the home team who took the lead, after just five minutes of play, with Charlton forward Karlan Ahearne-Grent firing low beyond Chris Kettings to open the scoring between the south London rivals.
Palace were not behind for long and immediately pressed for a way back into the crunch match, with Chung-Yong Lee going close from an ambitious effort. The winger’s strike crashed off the post and was cleared by the home side.
But a minute later, the South Korean leveled the scores with a low drive below Dillon Phillips in the Charlton goal.
Charlton again looked to press and Ahearne-Grent looked their most dangerous threat going forward, but his effort on 10 minutes flew well over the bar, however Owen Garvan then gave Palace the lead on 18 minutes, bagging from close range as the Eagles continued to push for the three points.
The lead didn't last long and the hosts were soon level, with Ahearne-Grent nodding home following a scramble in the Palace box.
Monlouis and Charles-Cook both had chances for the home side as the game approached the half hour mark, but both managed to blaze their efforts well over the crossbar.
Despite fashioning chances of their own, the Addicks struggled to deal with the elusive Lee, who drifted across the attacking midfield, popping up to cause them problems. He linked up well with Anderson and Gray, but lost his footing at the vital moment otherwise he could have had his second of the afternoon.
After the restart, Palace looked the more threatening, with both Lee and Gray finding themselves inches away from restoring the Eagles’ lead.
The South Korean bowed out on the hour mark having put in a superb debut display and was replaced by Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong. Fisayo Adarabioyo then replaced another Palace debutant, Michael Phillips, on 72 minutes and immediately looked to cause the home side problems.
Charlton pushed for the next goal and won a succession of corners, but Palace still looked threatening on the break particularly with Adarabioyo on the pitch.
After the first half goal-fest, the game slowed in the second period. Neither side managed to grab that decisive winner, though both pushed for it. It was a hard-fought clash and has set up an interesting second meeting between the two sides on Friday afternoon at the KNK Stadium.
Crystal Palace: Kettings, Phillips (Adarabioyo 72), Scales, Magri, Collins, Gray, Boateng, Black, Garvan, Lee (Berkeley-Agyepong 60), Anderson. Subs not used: Dymond, Sow, Akiotu.
Charlton Athletic: Phillips, Pyke, Edwards, Onyewu, Lennon, Thomas, Charles-Cook, Monlouis, Ahearne-Grent, Browne (Silva 74), Kennedy. Subs: Munns, Beeney, Cumberbatch, Lookman, Silva.