A stoppage-time goal saw Nottingham Forest end Palace’s development side’s unbeaten start to the campaign, although the game will be remembered for Pape Souare’s first taste of match action in 12 months.
The Senegalese left-back was playing for the first time since his car accident last year, and he completed a useful 45 minutes on his road to recovery as Richard Shaw’s side were left heartbroken by the ending of the game, which saw them see a goal chalked off for offside seconds before Arvin Appiah stole in to score the winner.
Having fallen behind thanks to Gerry McDonough’s first half opener, Freddie Ladapo netted for the second successive game which looked like securing a point for the Eagles, who also hit the post twice in a chance-laded second half.
The early chances fell Palace’s way but they didn’t really threaten the Forest goal, and on 18 minutes the best opportunity of the opening stages fell to the visitors when Danny Preston slid in McDonagh but he saw his attempt blocked by the legs of Dion-Curtis Henry.
However, the Eagles custodian wouldn’t be so fortunate a minute later as the striker did get on the scoresheet when another through-ball allowed him the opportunity to poke goalwards, and he bravely found the corner of the net despite clattering into Henry, with both players needing treatment before play could resume.
Around the half-hour mark, Michael Phillips had three chances in quick succession to restore parity; firstly following a free-kick he dummied past a player before shooting but saw his effort blocked, and then after forcing Liam Bossin to tip over a header, he did find the net with a stooping header from a Damien Delaney cross but saw it ruled out for offside.
Forest should have doubled their advantage six minutes before half-time when Choz Charlesworth played a cute ball into McDonogh who attempted to clip it over Henry but saw it bounce just wide of the target, and trying to capitalise on that bit of fortune Shaw’s side nearly levelled through Souare, however he couldn’t cap his return with a dream goal as he nodded into the side-netting before being withdrawn at the break.
Following the resumption of play, both teams were left rueing the woodwork as seven minutes into the second half a cross by Aaron Smith deceived Henry and ended up bending onto the base of the post, before the hosts also hit the goalframe when Kian Flanagan threaded in Ladapo who looked set to find the bottom corner but struck the upright.
Chances continued to fall Palace’s way and Flanagan was next to go close but flashed a low effort just off-target, but around the hour mark they did draw level when a neat pass set substitute Levi Lumeka scampering down the right flank who beat Bossin to the ball, and he unselfishly picked out Ladapo who showed coolness inside the penalty area to slip past a defender before converting the opportunity.
It was anyone’s game with 20 minutes to go and both keepers were called into action when Henry stuck out a leg to deny Jake Taylor before Shaw’s team went straight up the other end and Ladapo saw a header stopper by Bossin, and then Keshi Anderson looked destined to put Palace ahead when the ball sat up perfectly for him inside the box but as soon as he pulled the trigger, a fantastic diving block by Preston deflected the ball over the crossbar.
It didn’t seem as though it was going to be Palace’s day as nine minutes remaining the post was rattled again when the lively Lumeka again wriggled free down the left and let fly but crashed the ball off the upright, trialist Sam Dalby saw a curling effort flash just wide, and then in injury-time Lumeka thought he had won it when he slipped the ball past Bossin but was again thwarted by the linesman’s flag.
And to add insult to injury, second later Forest raced up the other end and the ball came to Appiah on the right, and he finished past Henry to steal the points with virtually the last kick of the game.
Palace: Henry, Inniss, Delaney, Phillips, Wan-Bissaka, Husin, Flanagan, Souare (Lumeka 46), Lokilo, Anderson, Ladapo (Dalby 80). Subs not used: Tupper, Woods, McGregor.
Forest: Bossin, Charlesworth, Coveney, Edser, Preston, Walters (Appiah 72), Crookes, Taylor, Gomis, McDonagh (En-Neyah 46), Smith. Subs not used: Wright, Harbottle, Smith.