Coventry City clinched the U18s Professional Development South title by beating Paddy McCarthy’s Palace side, claiming their 15th win from their last 16 matches at the Eagles’ expense.
In their penultimate game of the season, the visitors saw their own four-match unbeaten run come to an end in the East Midlands after putting in a disappointing display that allowed the Sky Blues to score three times from sloppy bits of play and run out easy winners.
The opening stages saw the Eagles play to their usual standards and looked the livelier in the first half an hour, with Joseph Hungbo going ever so close to breaking the deadlock when he received the ball after some neat play, squared up a defender and got a shot away which thumped off the post.
However that was as good as things got for McCarthy’s boys and they were behind on 36 minutes when a cross failed to be defended adequately, and the second phase saw Dan Smith fire the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards out to open the scoring for the league leaders.
Dispute having shown plenty of resiliency in recent weeks, that setback proved terminal for Palace and within 11 minutes of the restart they found themselves further behind. Possession was surrendered cheaply in the middle of the park and full-back Lewis Green was allowed to take the ball into the final third and set up substitute Kyle Finn to double the lead.
With 20 minutes to go, the hosts sealed the league title when a counter-attack led to a sight of goal for Liam Doyle and he drilled the ball low into the net from 30 yards to seal the win against a lacklustre Eagles outfit.
They would come close to pulling a goal back late on with Hungbo the main threat again as he cut inside from the left and fired goalwards, but his shot failed to test Konrad Skuza between the Coventry posts as McCarthy tasted defeat for just the fourth time since the turn of the year.