- Palace earn a deserved penalty, forcefully dispatched by Nya Kirby
- Boro respond on the stroke of half-time
- HT: 1-1
- Brandon Aveiro goes closest for Palace in second-half
- FT: 1-1
Despite nine points separating the two teams in the group stage, spectators witnessed competitive, but unpredictable play from the outset as adverse weather conditions played a vital role in determining the manner in which the game was played.
Shaun Derry was forced into his first substitution just 17 minutes in, when Tyrick Mitchell limped off holding his hamstring. Fresh legs came in the form of Noah Watson, who assumed defensive duties, making some impressive tackles and important interceptions as the game played out.
The first real opportunity fell to Middlesbrough in the 19th minute from a smartly taken, curling corner that swung across the body of Jacob Russell forcing a fingertip save that clipped the woodwork on its way out for a corner.
Palace replied to the pressure breaking the deadlock in the 27th minute as a slick passing move culminated with an insightful ball sending David Boateng clean through on goal, only to be brought down inside the area by a rash, lunging tackle from Alberto Balde. Kirby confidently approached the spot and dispatched the ball low into right hand corner, sending Dejan Stojanovic the wrong way.
With the weather continuing to play its part, red shirts failed to find success in the Eagles’ final third, often taking long range efforts, confidently dealt with Palace’s last line of defence.
Just before the stroke of half-time Middlesbrough managed to capitalise on a dangerous corner: an area of their play which looked most dangerous all night. An expertly curled sweeping cross found Rumam Burrell in the box who nodded it past Russell off the underside of the bar.
The visitors made their second substitution of the game to kick-off the second-half, with goalscorer Kirby making way for Aiden Steele, who dropped into a holding midfield role.
It was Palace who came back out the more confident side, retaining possession and attempting to push further up the pitch. Naturally, this left more space in behind the Eagles’ backline where Boro’s captain Tyrone O’Neill looked most threatening. Rest assured, Palace’s valiant defending coped magnificently.
The 72nd minute saw Nik Tavares make way for Lewis Hobbs as Derry looked to shuffle his pack and strengthen the backline to finish strongly.
It was Palace’s creative forward Brandon Aveiro who attempted to put the result firmly beyond doubt in the closing minutes, as he cut in from the left on two occasions, both pulling just wide from several yards.
It was a night for the Palace backline, expertly marshalled by club captain Jay Rich-Baghuelou who led the side to an impressive result given the disappointing reverse fixture result back in December.
Middlesbrough: Stojanovic, Dodds, Robinson, Dale, Wood, Hood, Folarin, Wearne, Burrell, O’Neil, Balde (Wilson 78).
Subs not used: Reed, Green, Metcalfe.
Palace: Russell, D.Boateng, Mitchell (Watson 17), M.Boateng, Tavares (Hobbs 72), Baghuelou, Aveiro, Kirby (Steele 45), Gordon, Trialist, TQ Addy.
Subs not used: Luthra, Street.