Young Blues take the plaudits as Premier League Palace pushed all the way
Town were knocked out of the Carabao Cup but what is believed to be the youngest side in the Club’s history left Selhurst Park with so much credit.
Blues matched the Premier League side for a vast majority of the 90 minutes and it took a moment of top class quality from James McArthur to break the deadlock 15 minutes from time.
It was only then against a tiring Town side that Palace showed the gulf in status, with Dean Gerken making two excellent saves.
Another cracker from McArthur seemed to wrap the tie up for the Eagles but Bersant Celina scored his first goal for the Club to give Blues a lifeline in added on time.
It wasn’t enough to earn Town a reprieve but it was the young Blues who left to a standing ovation from the 1800 strong travelling Blue Army at the final whistle.
Town’s starting line-up averaged just 20 years and 11 months, with four players making their debuts - George Fowler, Ben Folami, Shane McLoughlin and Pat Webber. Mick McCarthy - minus 10 players - naming only five subs.
Seven Academy graduates were in the side, with goalkeeper Gerken handed the captaincy - another milestone for the record books.
It was one of the ‘oldies’ Danny Rowe, 25, who showed good vision and delivery to find Bersant Celina with a crossfield pass that created the first opening , the Manchester City loanee crowded out though as he raced towards the Palace box.
Flynn Downes showed his potential with a driving run and pass that found Folami in a good position but the teenager’s pass to Celina was over hit and ran through to Julian Speroni.
Downes, carrying one of his boots in one hand, ended the threat of a Palace break with a timely intervention with his ‘bootless’ foot, then Folami did excellently to hold up the play inside the Eagles box, Rowe darting in but blasting over from a good position in the clearest chance of the opening 25 minutes.
Palace responded, Yohan Cabaye seeing a shot blocked, Jeffrey Schlupp denied by Woolfenden’s challenge, then Sullay Kaikai tried to force his way to goal but Tristan Nydam stood firm.
Nydam did superbly again to thwart Kaikai, Pat Webber then in the right place as Jason Puncheon looked to unlock the door before Palace won a free-kick 25 yards out, Gerken saving well from Cabaye’s effort in what was the only strike on target of the first-half.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaced Scott Dann at the break in the first change in the line-ups but it was Town who started the brighter and Celina was inches away from getting his head on the end of Rowe’s cross after a surging run from Woolfenden.
Gerken produced an excellent save to deny Kaikai, who looked destined to break the deadlock on 55 minutes.
Rowe sent a curler wide as Town continued to match the opposition, Celina then coming alive in the middle of the park with a run that saw him ghost past two Palace players before releasing McLoughlin, his cross cleared.
Palace made a second change with former Town loanee Andros Townsend on for Patrick van Aanholt on the hour.
Cabaye was high and wide from distance as Town kept Palace at arm’s length, Ben Morris then joining the list of debutants - Folami making way.
Speroni held firm from Woolfenden’s cross, Kaikai fired over before being replaced by Chung-yong Lee and seconds later Palace were ahead, McArthur finishing like a Premier League player with a left foot curler.
Gerken prevented a second, diving to his left to keep out Jason Lokilo after Townsend set him up,
Lokilo hit the post, Gerken saving well against from McArthur as Palace pressed for a second before Chris Smith and Monty Patterson both entered the fray for their debuts.
McArthur provided another goal of quality eight minutes from time to all but book their place in the third round but Town had the final word and rightly so, Celina sliding in his first goal in English football with Patterson inches away from an equaliser with the last touch of the game.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, van Aanolt (Townsend 59), Dann (Fosu-Mensah 46), Cabaye, Schlupp, McArthur, Kaikai (Lee 75), Lokilo, Kelly, Puncheon. Subs not used: Hennessey, Milivojevic, Tomkins, Benteke.
Town: Gerken, Woolfenden, Fowler, Webber, Nydam (Smith 81), Rowe, McDonnell, Downes, McLoughlin (Patterson 81), Folami (Morris 63), Celina. Subs not used: Crowe, McKendry. Booked: Downes.