The under-23s put themselves in pole position for the Professional Development League Two (South) title with a solid home win over Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park.
The Eagles sit 12 points clear at the top of the table, with a play-off spot secured, and anything less than an Ipswich Town win at home to Hull City will guarantee top spot for Richard Shaw’s boys.
An early free kick from Huddersfield’s Regan Booty flew narrowly wide of the target for the game’s first real sight of goal, but Palace soon responded with a chance of their own.
Rob Street did well to play the ball out wide to Jason Lokilo. He then cut on to his left foot and found Levi Lumeka in the area, who teed up Erdal Rakip for a shot, but the Swedish midfielder dragged it wide.
Huddersfield threatened with just over 10 minutes to go of the first half, but Joe Tupper did well to get down low and palm a cross behind for a corner to the visitors, which came to nothing.
Half time came and went with the game scoreless – and it was the Eagles who broke the deadlock soon after the restart. Good work down the right from Lokilo and Rakip ended with the latter teeing up the Trialist. His low drive was parried into the path of 16-year-old Rob Street and he made no mistake on his first start for the under-23s.
Tupper preserved Palace’s advantage by making a smart stop with his legs, denying Rowe from point blank range on 56 minutes. The goalkeeper was called into action again shortly after, getting a vital touch on a Dominic Tear effort to turn it on to the post, when facing the Terriers forward one-on-one.
Street nearly had a second on 70 minutes, after getting across his man to meet a low Tyler Brown cross, but he was denied brilliantly by the legs of Coleman in the Huddersfield goal. Lumeka then went close three minutes after, but his shot was deflected behind.
The three points were wrapped up on 77 minutes when Lumeka was played through by a pinpoint Kian Flanagan pass. The number 11 took a touch, cut on to his right foot and thumped the ball into the roof of the net from inside the area.
A late lapse in concentration halved the advantage, as a three-pronged Terriers attack ended with Regan Booty slotting the ball into the bottom corner with the final kick of the game. Despite the disappointment at conceding, the Eagles secured the three points and made themselves favourites for the southern division’s title.
Palace: Tupper; Ward (Trialist, 46), O’Dwyer, Jach, Brown; McGregor, Flanagan, Rakip; Lokilo, Lumeka; Street.
Subs: Webber, Bryon, Mitchell, Hungbo.
Huddersfield: Coleman, Williams, O’Malley, High, Edmonds-Green (Jackett, 80), Crichlow-Noble, Pyke, Booty, O’Brien, Rowe (Jackson, 71), Tear (Obiero, 74).