Palace’s development side fell to their first defeat in four games as they lost to play-off chasers Colchester United at Selhurst Park.
A strong Eagles side including Julian Speroni, Adrian Mariappa, Marouane Chamakh and Martin Kelly took the lead through Victor Fundi but two goals in the space of 60 seconds late in the second half condemned Gary Issott’s men to defeat.
Early chances saw the in-form Randell Williams shoot straight at Dillon Barnes in the U’s goal after being played in by Andre Coker, and then Chamakh linked up with Fundi on the edge of the box and ghosted past a couple of defenders but passed up a shooting opportunity and tried to round the keeper too but the chance went begging.
After a slow start Colchester came back at Palace and Femi Akinwande sent a shot just wide before a long distance drive from Dion Sembie-Ferris failed to trouble Speroni, but on the half-hour mark the Eagles went ahead.
Hiram Boateng won the ball on the left and cut inside to the edge of the Colchester box before laying it off to Fundi, and the striker fizzed a strike into the bottom corner to leave Barnes helpless and score his first goal for the development side in just his third appearance at this level.
A quiet opening 45 minutes came to an end with the hosts in front but only thanks to Speroni who managed to beat away a powerful shot from Louis Dunne for a corner a minute before the interval, and after the restart Williams screwed over from just a couple of yards out with the goal at his mercy after Coker had cut the ball across the area.
On 50 minutes Fundi nearly added a second when a swift counter-attack from the Eagles saw Boateng find Williams who centred into the attacker’s path, but he hooked the ball over the bar with his attempt on the turn.
A rare foray forward for the visitors saw Dunne again take aim at Speroni but it was easily saved by the custodian, but just after the hour mark Chamakh limped off in pain with a knee injury and 15 minutes later the game turned on its head.
It was a case of third time lucky for Dunne when he drifted inside from the right and launched a shot from 25 yards which left Speroni helpless as it sailed into the top corner, and then a minute later Kelly lost possession and Akinwande pounced to centre for Malachy Bonne who tapped in from a couple of yards to put the U’s ahead.
As time ran out for Palace a ball into the area by Ben Wynter fell to Williams who nudged it towards the target but the tame effort was comfortable for Barnes as the hosts couldn’t conjure up an equaliser late on.
Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Wynter, Kelly, Scales, Boateng, Dreher, Coker (Lokilo 71), Chamakh (Phillips 64), Williams, Fundi (Andrews 71). Subs not used: Perntreou, O'Dwyer.
Colchester: Barnes, Vincent-Young, James, Olufemi, O'Donaghue, Sembie-Ferris, Lapslie, Wright (Harrison 86), Dunne (Foue 90), Akinwande (Curtis 90), Bonne. Subs not used: Boness, Brampton.