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      Report & Highlights: Palace qualify for PL2 play-off phase in five-goal thriller

      Middlesbrough U21
      Bilongo 45+1'
      Gitau 51'
      Crystal Palace U21
      Devenny 6'
      Trialist 30' 69'

      On a sunny Friday evening at the Riverside stadium, Crystal Palace Under-21s overcame a stubborn Middlesbrough side to secure their place in the play-off phase of the Premier League 2.


      • Six changes to the side which beat Everton in the International Cup

      • Devenny puts Palace ahead early on with a great free-kick

      • Trialist nearly adds a second from a narrow angle 20 minutes in

      • He eventually doubles the lead half an hour in

      • Palace threaten from a well-worked corner

      • Boro pull one back on the stroke of half-time through Bilongo

      • HT: Boro 1-2 Palace

      • Mathurin nearly extends Palace’s lead within the first minute of the second-half

      • Gitau equalises for Boro with a stunning 35-yard strike

      • Boro gain momentum, but can't quite fashion a chance to take the lead

      • Trialists reclaims the lead for Palace in the 70th minute

      • Palace see off any late Boro threats and secure their place in the PL2 play-offs

      • FT: Boro 2-3 Palace

      U21 Match Highlights: Middlesbrough 2-3 Crystal Palace

      Ten days on from the Premier League International Cup semi-final success over Everton at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace Under-21s faced a tough trip to Middlesbrough to secure their place in the Premier League 2 play-offs.

      The new structure of the league for this campaign means that the top 16 sides qualify for the play-off stage in order to determine the winner of the tournament.

      Head coach Darren Powell shuffled the pack, with six changes to the side. Jackson Izquierdo made his first start between the sticks since December in place of Joe Whitworth.

      Palace started strongly and took the lead at the Riverside stadium with their first attempt of the game. Justin Devenny stepped up from about 20-yards out to curl in a delightful free-kick on his left foot.

      His third goal in as many games gave Palace a spring in their step as they went on in search of a second, knowing a win would guarantee their place in the play-off phase. Trialist came close to doubling the lead after being played in by Danny Imray, but the angle was closed down.

      Trialist did, however, get himself on the scoresheet half an hour in. Imray played a first-time ball across the box that the Middlesbrough defence couldn’t deal with and Trialist was quick to pounce on the loose ball from close range.

      The Eagles were in control with a two-goal lead and almost made it three from a training ground corner routine. Mathurin played it into the box before receiving it out wide again and cutting it back for Devenny who stung the palms of Henry Popple. Craig Farquhar then headed over in the second phase of the corner.

      Boro did claw their way back into the game on the stroke of half-time, as returning loanee Bryant Bilongo curled one in from the edge of the box.

      With only one goal in it at the break, it was effectively all to play for in the second-half. Palace again started brightly and almost scored a third within a minute of the restart, though Mathurin fired just over the bar as the ball sat up perfectly for him inside the box.

      The hosts drew level just six minutes into the second-half as George Gitau scored a sensational 35-yard strike following a corner that looked as though it was initially cleared.

      A draw wasn’t enough for Palace, so they had it all to do once more after squandering the initial two-goal lead. Boro were now in the driving seat after levelling, creating more half-chances and forcing more mistakes.

      The south Londoners reclaimed the lead with 20 minutes to go as Trialist got the faintest of touches on an Imray ball into the box. Mathurin was also closing in and would’ve converted the dangerous cross.

      In the time that remained, Palace saw out the remainder of the Middlesbrough threats and managed to power their way through eight minutes of additional time to secure their place in the Premier League 2 play-offs.

      Powell’s side now sit in 11th place, with a final league game of the campaign against 1st place Tottenham Hotspur to come in three days time.

      Boro: Popple (GK), Gitau (Whelan, 89), McCormick, Lindo, Hannah, Woolston, Oppong, Bridge, Howells (Willis, 70), Collins, Bilongo (Traore, 75).

      Subs not used: Simpson (GK), Gibson.

      Palace: Izquierdo (GK), Imray, Watson, Farquhar, Jemide, V. Williams (Akinwale, 62), Devenny, Rodney, Wells-Morrison (Reid, 55), Mathurin, Trialist (Agbinone, 82).

      Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), S. Williams.