A disappointing game for Palace saw their winning run come to an end as they were well beaten by the U’s in their final league game before Christmas.
Paddy McCarthy was left frustrated as a number of costly errors came back to bite his young side, who rallied towards the end of the encounter but it was too little, too late.
Just two minutes in the Eagles found themselves behind when a lapse of concentration allowed the hosts to counter-attack a Palace free-kick and they managed to get in behind a disjoined backline to fire in the opening goal past Oliver Webber.
McCarthy’s boys were left reeling by that early setback and they would go into half-time two goals down when they were caught napping at a set-piece, which was played short and fired into the box, taking a deflection off a Palace defender and nestling into the net for an own goal.
Two changes were made at the interval as McCarthy put another striker in Victor Fundi on to try and turn things around, but before the hour mark his side fell further behind when Colchester seized possession off a defender and tucked the ball home, and then converted a header from a free-kick to make it 4-0.
To the Eagles’ credit they fought back and on 74 minutes a clever ball over the top from Kian Flanagan released Fundi, and the substitute fired home for what looked like a mere consolation, but two minutes after that a cross from the left allowed Francis Jno Baptiste to net his eight goal of the campaign and reduce the deficit to two.
That rocked Colchester and Palace’s top scorer would have two more chances to continue the fightback but he saw a header saved by the U’s goalkeeper before he tested the shot-stopper again after getting on the end of another neat Flanagan pass.
However the resilience ended when Colchester bagged a fifth from a corner kick late on to condemn McCarthy to his first defeat at the helm of the under-18s, who will now concentrate on picking his team up for their FA Youth Cup third round tie with Liverpool.