A convincing victory by Palace’s under-21 side helped cut the gap on league leaders Swansea City to three points after beating Leeds United in another goal-filled encounter.
A hat-trick from Kwesi Appiah plus a goal from Reise Allassani ensured Gary Issott’s side racked up a third straight victory, and fifth in a row at the KNK Stadium, to help establish themselves in the play-off places whilst also narrowing the Swans’ lead at the top of the table.
The game didn’t take long to catch fire and there were three goals scored in the opening seven minutes. It took just three for Palace to take the lead when Allassani floated in a delivery towards the back post where Appiah was left unmarked to head the ball past Eric Grimes.
But two minutes later they found themselves level again when Zac Thompson’s corner was picked up by Eoghan Stokes on the edge of the box, and his bending shot was diverted past Chris Kettings by the head of Jake Skelton.
However Appiah quickly fired his side back in front. A loose clearance by Grimes was headed first-time into the striker’s path by Owen Garvan, and despite being under pressure from a couple of defender the Ghanaian international blasted the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to restore the lead.
After the early goalfest the game began to settle down, but Luke Booker went close when some neat juggling allowed him a shooting chance but narrowly missed the target, and Stokes saw a curling effort saved by Kettings before the keeper parried a snapshot from the striker with 10 minutes of the half to play.
But just four minutes after the interval Appiah completed his hat-trick when he raced onto a through-ball and had all the time in the world to steady himself before firing past the helpless Grimes.
The victory was sealed on 53 minutes when Jake Gray won a 50/50 challenge inside the Leeds box and the ball ran kindly to Kyle De Silva, and he unselfishly squared for Allassani to tap the ball home from a couple of yards out.
With 11 minutes to go the visitors pulled one back when Tom Lyman knocked the ball in behind the Palace backline and Luke Parkin nipped in to tuck it past Kettings, but after Sonny Black had hit the crossbar from a matter of yards out, the Eagles were handed a spot-kick when Allassani was pushed over in the box however Connor Dymond saw his powerful penalty pushed away by Grimes with time ticking away.
Palace: Kettings, N'Diane, Magri, Croll, Dymond, Gray, Boateng, Garvan (Black 66), Allassani, Appiah (Ferrier 66), De Silva (Anderson 66). Subs not used: Gregory, Adarabioyo.
Leeds United: Grimes, Coyle, Killock, Coker (Denton 53), Skelton, Thompson, Booker (Lyman 58), Purver, Stokes, Ngoyi, Parkin. Subs not used: Vann, Atkinson, Crouz.