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U23s Report: Crystal Palace 2-1 QPR

10 April 2017

Second half strikes from Levi Lumeka and Francis Jno Baptiste helped Palace return to winning ways as they saw off the challenge of Queens Park Rangers, despite ending the game with nine men.

Having found themselves a goal to the good, injuries to Callum Sturgess and Nya Kirby forced Richard Shaw’s side to play the final 15 minutes two players light, however a committed display helped them claim probably their best three points of the campaign.

The Eagles were the better side throughout the first half and created numerous chances, with Jonathan Benteke going so close to putting his side in front but he failed to make contact with Andre Coker’s cross after a good attack.

They went much closer to breaking the deadlock around the half-hour mark when Lumeka had a shot on the turn blocked by Seny Dieng in the R’s goal before the rebound was scrambled off the line, and the shot-stopper would also have to be sharp to save from Kirby as a positive half for the Eagles came to a close.

The only thing that was missing was the opening goal, and it finally arrived on 50 minutes when a swift break saw Kian Flanagan slide in Lumeka who tucked the ball under Dieng to score his sixth goal for the development side this term.

However, having been in total control of the game they would be cruelly forced to battle their way through the final stages with just nine men. Having made all of their subs, Sturgess had to come off after receiving a kick to the ankle, and then soon after Kirby twisted his ankle and was forced off too.

Understandably, the Hoops laid siege to the Palace goal but incredibly it was Shaw’s side who netted the game’s all-important second goal when after being camped inside their own half, a pass by Lumeka led to a Rangers defender mis-controlling the ball and substitute Jno Baptiste pounced to score his first goal for the under-23s, having netted 13 times for the under-18s this campaign.

There would be a nervy ending though as a couple of minutes from time, the impressive Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Dan Darbyshire in the box and Josh Bowler converted from 12 yards, but Palace held firm to claim a fine victory.

Palace: Perntreou, Wan-Bissaka, Tavares, Woods, Sturgess, Phillips, Dreher (Flanagan 46), Coker (Wynter 46), Kirby, Lumeka, J. Benteke (Jno Baptiste 72). Subs not used: Webber, Hungbo.

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