Two late goals from James McArthur secured Frank de Boer’s first victory as Palace boss and progression into the next round of the Carabao Cup as the Eagles saw off a spirited challenge from Ipswich Town.
The Scottish midfielder, making his first start of the campaign, ended a run without a goal since December as Palace were forced to be patient against a youthful Tractor Boys side, but eventually their quality came to the fore with two fine strikes taking them into round three.
There was a scare as Bersant Celina pulled a goal back in injury-time, but it was a mere consolation, allowing De Boer to taste victory for the first time in a competitive Eagles game.
With the two sides making 18 changes between them from the weekend, it wasn’t a surprise that the encounter took a while to liven up. Two minutes in Sullay Kaikai, partnered up front in an academy-produced frontline with Jason Lokilo, drove an attempt well wide, with Ipswich responding midway through the half when Danny Rowe found row Z instead of the top corner.
Seeing as they had named a line-up with an average age of under 20, Mick McCarthy’s team more than held their own in the first 45 against far more experienced opposition, and restricted Palace to shots from distance with Patrick van Aanholt next to try his luck from 30 yards but saw his effort from the right touchline sail high and wide.
It took 44 minutes for the home supporters to finally have something to shout about, as they nearly retreated into the concourses at the break having seen their team go ahead. After Palace won a free-kick on the edge of the area, the returning Yohan Cabaye curled it left-footed over the wall, however Town keeper Dean Gerken managed to push the attempt away to stop the half’s best chance from nestling in his net.
Having taken virtually the whole of the first half to dirty the opposition keeper’s gloves, the Eagles were much quicker out of the traps after the restart and Kaikai was unlucky not to see his powerful blast from just outside the area not find the net after it slipped under Gerken but the shot-stopper got enough on it to divert it wide, and then Cabaye fired just over as De Boer’s men cranked up the pressure.
The winger was the Eagles’ biggest goal threat before he was replaced on 76 minutes, but a minute later the breakthrough finally arrived. McArthur picked the ball up from Lokilo in midfield and drove forward, and then after steadying himself on the edge of the box he curled the ball around Gerken and into the net to finally end Ipswich’s resistance.
That took the pressure off Palace and Lokilo twice came close to marking his debut with a goal when he drew a good stop from Gerken after Andros Townsend slid the ball across the box, and then the youngster came within fractions when he showed good skill to turn in the area and flash an attempt goalwards but rattled the base of the post.
But with six minutes to go, Palace’s passage into the third round was secured as McArthur netted his second. Chung-yong Lee laid the ball off to the overlapping Jeffrey Schlupp on the left, and he slipped it to the Scotsman who, in similar fashion to his first, bent the ball into the net to complete his brace.
The two-goal cushion would prove crucial as in stoppage time the visitors pulled one back when a clipped pass over the top released Ben Morris, who nipped in ahead of Timothy Fosu-Mensah to square for Celina who found the net, but it was too little, too late.
Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann (Fosu-Mensah 46), Kelly, Schlupp, Puncheon, Cabaye, McArthur, Van Aanholt (Townsend 56), Kaikai (Lee 76), Lokilo. Subs not used: Hennessey, Tomkins, Milivojevic, Benteke.
Ipswich: Gerken, Woolfenden, Fowler, Webber, Nydam (C. Smith 81), Rowe, Downes, McDonnell, Celina, McLoughlin (Patterson 81), Folami (Morris 62). Subs not used: Crowe, McKendry.