A brace from Jordan Hallam was enough for Sheffield United to beat the Eagles in Yorkshire to continue the visitors’ recent indifferent form.
Under-18s boss Paddy McCarthy – returning to one of his former clubs – has now seen his side follow up each of their last three victories with a defeat the following match, and two goals in the space of seven minutes towards the start of the second half proved costly for Palace in this encounter.
Hallam was the biggest goal threat during the game and came close to opening the scoring after 10 minutes when he tested trialist Neal Osborn in the Eagles goal with a free-kick, and the keeper continued to be busy when he later denied David Parkhurst after a shot on the turn.
Osborn managed to keep his sheet clean during the opening 45 minutes, however that all changed four minutes after the restart when the Blades were awarded a penalty. An attack down the left flank saw one of the home side’s attackers brought down inside in the box, and Hallam stepped up to send Osborn the wrong way from 12 yards as he tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
The misery continued to be piled on for Palace though as on 56 minutes he got on the scoresheet again. Some tidy passing by the hosts on the right saw the ball played inside to Hallam who was unmarked 20 yards out, and after shifting it onto his right foot, he blasted into the top corner to double the advantage.
Despite finding themselves two goals down, McCarthy’s side kept probing and were rewarded when they pulled one back on 69 minutes after some good play by Francis Jno Baptiste allowed him to find substitute Sean Robertson, who guided his effort past the United goalkeeper and find the bottom corner to score on his debut for the under-18s.
With a grandstand finish set up, Palace threw everything they could at the Blades who would ultimately hold firm to claim the points, leaving the Eagles sitting in third in the table but 17 points off the play-off spots with just six games to play.
Palace: Osborn, French (Matthews 65), Bryon, Woods, Ossai, Demby, Boateng, Onen (Robertson 62), Hungbo, Daly, Jno Baptiste. Subs not used: Funnell, Gurung, Lynch.