Palace saw their hopes of clinching the Professional Development League title dashed in extra-time as Virgil Gomis netted the only goal of the game to send Nottingham Forest through at their expense.
Richard Shaw’s team battled admirably against the northern section runners-up but couldn’t find a way onto the scoresheet, meaning that their opponents will go through to next week’s final to take on Bolton Wanderers.
The first 45 minutes belonged to the northern section runners-up and they had an early sight of goal when Gboly Ariyibi edged down the left and got to the byline to pull back for Gomis, however the attacker fired wildly over the bar when well-placed.
The Eagles’ only chances of the first half came when Kian Flanagan saw a shot blocked and Levi Lumeka flashed the follow-up wide, but after that brief flurry Forest continued to dominate the opening 45 and they should have had a penalty when Brennan Johnson seemed to be tripped in the box by Lewis Bryon, but the referee waved play-on.
Minutes later they had a goal correctly chalked off for offside when Abel Ahemhodzic turned home from a couple of yards out, and then Gomis was clumsily challenged by Giovanni McGregor inside the box but once again the officials were unnerved.
After regrouping his team in the changing rooms at the interval, Shaw’s team were much improved after the restart and Flanagan forced Liam Bossin into the game’s first save after 52 minutes following a lengthy run down the left flank, but Forest continued to show their quality in attack and their strike partnership of Gomis and Johnson linked up again to carve out a chance for the latter, but he narrowly missed the target.
The chances were more evenly-shared though in the second half and Jason Lokilo created a sight of goal when he jinked down the right flank and stung the palms of Bossin, and with four minutes of normal time remaining Ariyibi drifted off his flank and wriggled past a couple of defenders but was careless when he pulled the trigger.
Before extra-time was needed, Gomis looked set to fire Forest into the final but his attempt deflected kindly to Joe Tupper, who then also had to deal with a bending Ariyibi free-kick before the 90 minutes expired.
But just two minutes into extra-time, the visitors’ two most dangerous players combined to hand them the lead. Ariyibi controlled a hoofed clearance and found Gomis, who sped past Jaroslaw Jach and dinked the ball high over the advancing Tupper before prodding it over the line from a yard out.
Only a good save by the Eagles keeper kept his team in the game when Gomis again got through the defence and shot forcefully from a tight angle, but at the end of the first period substitute Rob Street nearly managed to bundle the ball home after rounding Bossin but the Forest defence managed to scramble it clear.
There was another half-chance just after play resumed when a long ball by Jach was misjudged by Adam Crookes who failed to nod it back to Bossin and James Daly nearly managed to nip in and score,
Palace: Tupper, Mitchell, Bryon, Jach, Brown, McGregor, Kirby (Boateng 106), Lokilo, Flanagan (Street 99), Lumeka, Daly. Subs not used: Curtis-Henry, Robertson, Hungbo.
Forest: Bossin, Ahemhodzic (Richardson 46), Coveney, Crookes, Iacovitti (Preston 70), En-Neyah, Taylor, Edser, Ariyibi, Gomis, Johnson (Fornah 99). Subs not used: Shelvey, Stewart.