Palace and Sheffield United played out an interesting encounter at Selhurst Park this afternoon, with both sides looking good in patches. But it was the Eagles who came out on top.
It was a lively at Selhurst Park, with both sides winning several free kicks each early on, all in the opposing half, though none were capitalised on.
Neither side took control in the opening five minutes, but the high tempo suggested there would be goals in this one - and there wasn't a long wait for the first. On eight minutes, Randell Williams released Freddie Ladapo through on goal and the striker finished coolly first time, slotting it past Jake Eastwood and into the bottom corner.
Palace had seen a similar chance go begging a minute early, when Williams had again been the supplier for Ladapo, but it was the second time of asking when the Eagles found success.
Sheffield United came straight back at Palace, looking to find a quick way back into the game, but the home side stood firm and dealt with any threats posed by the Blades.
The remainder of the first half went by largely without incident, bar a booking for Connor Dymond, with chances at a premium for either team. Palace took their 1-0 lead into the break, looking fairly comfortable.
Back underway and the game was a tense one. Neither side really had a gilt-edged chance to grab a second and opportunities to score of any kind were few and far between. United enjoyed spells on the ball but did little with it and after 20 minutes Palace had struck to double their advantage.
Ladapo received the ball on the edge of the area, took a touch to set himself and crashed a powerful left-footed effort in off the near post for his and Palace's second in South Norwood.
The Blades began to throw everything at Palace in an attempt to half the deficit. They won a succession of corners as the final ten minutes approached and from one of these Palace broke. Ben Wynter stormed out of the box, beat two players and fed Randell Williams down the line. The winger's first touch took him clear of his man and he worked his way into the box before finding Ladapo. On a hat-trick, Ladapo shaped to swipe the ball into the corner, but put too much on it and a it zipped well wide of the far post of the Holmesdale Road End goal.
United continued to push after that, but couldn't find a way through the determined Palace back line and it finished 2-0 to the Eagles.
Palace XI: Perntreou; Wynter, O'Dwyer, Croll, Fryers; Phillips, Dymond (Hoare, 66), Dreher, R Williams; Bissaka; Ladapo.
Subs: McAdden, George, Berkeley-Agyepong, Brown.
Sheffield United XI: Eastwood, Charlesworth (Cummings, 45), Brown, Gilmour, Oseni, Semple, L’Ghoul (Hall, 45), Reed, Ndjoli (Hallam, 74), De Girolamo, Brooks.
Subs: Ramsdale, Smith.