Palace’s academy side won their third game from their last four outings to keep their hopes of reaching the end of season play-offs intact by dismantling Queens Park Rangers, with Levi Lumeka getting a hat-trick.
There was little sign of how things would end up early on when Palace found themselves a goal behind on 16 minutes when Rangers sprung a counter-attack and Gianni Crichlow managed to round Colm McAdden and scuff the ball in from a tight angle.
However Ken Gillard’s side, who’d scored twice in injury-time three days earlier to beat Sheffield United, manged to completely turn the game on its head within eight minutes. Firstly, Ben Wynter fired home a free-kick which clipped the post on its way in, and then just two minutes after equalising Andre Coker put the ball on a plate for Corie Andrews to score a second.
There were further chances for both sides as the half headed towards its conclusion with McAdden doing brilliantly to save from Anthony Folkes, before Lumeka was denied by R’s keeper Marcin Brzozowski when he broke through on goal after being played onside by the home defence.
However Lumeka did make it 3-1 12 minutes into the second half as Palace gave the hosts a taste of their own medicine by breaking on the counter-attack before the winger got himself on the scoresheet, and the Eagles hit their opponents with a second quick-fire strike of the encounter when 60 seconds later Coker served up a fourth by finding the bottom corner from inside the box.
Palace continued to run rampant and Lumeka, who caused the backline issues all afternoon, managed to get free again before tucking the ball past the helpless Brzozoswki on 68 minutes, and then Andrews nearly got himself a second too but his shot skidded narrowly off target.
But the sixth did come and it was that man Lumeka who registered his third of a fine afternoon in style, once again racing through on goal before lifting the ball over the goalkeeper to cap a second brilliant victory in the space of 72 hours for Ken Gillard’s side.