Palace's development team fell to a 3-0 defeat against play-off chasing Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road on a frustrating afternoon for Richard Shaw’s side.
The scoreline flattered the hosts who capitalised on a slow start from the Eagles to lead at the break, before adding two goals on the counter-attack following the restart with Palace pushing hard to get back into the game, but unable to take any of their many opportunities.
It was very much the proverbial game of two halves, with the Railwaymen on top of proceedings from the off against a lacklustre Palace, and after 20 minutes Perry Ng went close with a header from a free-kick before they grabbed the lead just 60 seconds later when Callum Saunders converted a cross by Owen Dale from close-range.
Only a good stop by Kleton Perntreou which diverted away a Callum Ainley effort before the break kept Palace in contention, however six minutes after the restart Crewe did double their lead when the Eagles were caught out trying to push for an early equaliser and Ainley countered, taking the ball past two or three defenders before netting from just outside the box.
That gave Palace a mountain to climb, but they gave it a good go by peppering the hosts’ goal. Firstly, Kian Flanagan was denied by a good stop by Andy Dawber with the rebound falling to Francis Jno Baptiste, but the usually-deadly striker struck the post with the follow up on his debut for the development team.
One bright point was the return to action of Jonathan Benteke who appeared as a substitute, but his rustiness showed when he spurned a couple of one-on-one opportunities and saw a strong shout for a penalty turned down, before the impressive Jason Lokilo also saw another chance to force a grandstand finish go begging.
But after Dan Udoh also hit the woodwork with nine minutes remaining, the Railwaymen wrapped up the win in the dying stages when Perntreou let a Ryan Wintle effort slip through his grasp and into the net to give the result a lop-sided look to it.
Palace: Perntreou, Wan-Bissaka, Tavares, O’Dwyer (Woods 46), Sturgess, McGregor, Phillips, Lokilo, Flanagan, Lumeka (Hungbo 86), Jno Baptiste (J. Benteke 69). Subs not used: Webber, Mitchell.