Corie Andrews, Jason Lokilo and Sullay Kaikai all got on the scoresheet as the Eagles strolled to victory against Cardiff City at Beckenham.
Palace’s front three were a constant menace to the Bluebirds defence all afternoon who couldn’t cope with their fine link-up play which saw all three get deserved goals during a great display from Richard Shaw’s side.
They dominated the first half and showed their intent by creating two great opportunities within the first 90 seconds with Kaikai firing just wide and Lokilo shooting straight at Oliver Byrne, before a sold opening 10 minutes ended with Andrews dragging an attempt wide from the edge of the box.
And the pressure told as they would find themselves 2-0 ahead after just 14 minutes with two virtually identical goals. After a loose pass was seized upon by Kaikai on the halfway line, he surged forward before slipping in Lokilo, and the winger centred for Andrews who had the simple task of converting a tap-in from a couple of yards out, and then three minutes later things got even better as a swift counter-attack saw roles reversed as Andrews this time centred for Lokilo to put Palace in firm control.
There were plenty of chances to make it 3-0 before half-time, especially when Kaikai picked out Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the back post who volleyed goalwards but Byrne scrambled across to save with an outstretched leg, while all the Bluebirds could muster in the opening quarter was a free-kick from Ibrahim Meite which never troubled Kleton Perntreou.
Lokilo then saw a shot blocked when he looked set to treble the lead, and Oliver O’Dwyer twice went close with headers from Kaikai deliveries just before half-time, the second of which clattered off the post and bounced onto the line before being hacked away.
Despite the change of halves, the hosts continued to look the more likely to score and Lokilo saw a blast deflected over which could easily have ended up in the net, however with just a two-goal cushion the points weren’t in the bag and when Mark Harris pounced on a lapse in concentration by Ben Wynter on the hour mark and shot just wide, the Eagles got a wake-up call.
The Welshmen continued to push and around the midway point of the second half Jamie Veale saw a free-kick deflected just wide before Harris volleyed over the resulting corner, and then only a last-ditch tackle by Sam Woods prevented Meite from a one-on-one chance against Perntreou as they searched for a way back into the game.
However the killer goal would come on 74 minutes when Kaikai was picked out by Andrews and left completely free, he had plenty of time to weigh up his options and slot low past Byrne to put the result beyond doubt.
From then it was just a matter of how many Palace would score and Byrne produced heroics by blocking Levi Lumeka’s shot on the turn, and just as Andrews looked set to make it 4-0 by tucking home the rebound, the goalkeeper showed superb reflexes to turn that away too and prevent Palace from running riot.
Palace: Perntreou, Wynter, O’Dwyer (Woods 64), Phillips (King-Elliot 74), Sturgess, McGregor, Flanagan, Wan-Bissaka, Lokilo (Lumeka 74), Kaikai, Andrews. Subs not used: Stewart, Williams.
Cardiff: Byrne, Coxe, Bodenham, Young, Abbruzzese, Southam, Veale, Waite (Humphries 67), Harris, Wharton (Weymans 89), Meite (Bird 81). Subs not used: Burwood.