James Daly’s third goal in his past four appearances 10 minutes from time saw Palace claim successive wins at the expense of second-placed Coventry City.
Another youthful academy side named by Paddy McCarthy, featuring just one second-year scholar in skipper Sam Woods and a 14-year-old in Josh Ajayi, put in another superb display to follow up the previous weekend’s success against Hull City to beat the team directly ahead of them in the U18 Professional Development League table, ending their 11-match unbeaten run in the process.
Some blustery weather conditions meant the opening 45 minutes was a quiet affair and didn’t indicate what was to come after the restart, but it was the Eagles who had the better of the opportunities throughout, with Joseph Hungbo seemingly the most likely to break the deadlock as he forced the Coventry goalkeeper into a smart early save before missing the target soon after.
Ajayi was replaced by under-16s attacker Vivesh Gurung at the break which helped to give McCarthy’s boys a foothold in the game, and not long after play resumed they got the lead they merited when the ball came to wing-back Tariq Ossai on the edge of the box who drilled it low into the net to register his first goal since the opening day of the season.
Unsurprisingly, the in-form Coventry side pressed hard for the next 15 minutes with Olivier Webber in the Eagles goal having to make a couple of good stops, however the goal of the game would come with around 15 minutes to play when a Sky Blues attacker scored with a superb bicycle kick from around 12 yards out that left Webber helpless as the ball nestled into the side-netting.
However Palace showed great resilience to bounce back from that wondergoal, and on 80 minutes they got themselves back in front with a well-worked move of their own. Gurung won the ball back in midfield and found Hungbo who slipped in Daly, and he showed good composed to tuck the chance under the advancing goalkeeper and clinch a fine, hard-fought win for the hosts.