STOKE CITY'S Under-21 side drew level on points with Crystal Palace after recording a heartening 2-1 victory over their London opponents in Group Two of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League on Monday evening.
Strikes from Adam Thomas and Jordan Richardson gave the Potters a two-goal lead in the opening eleven minutes, and despite Aruna Dindane's first-half strike, Stoke held on to take the three points back to Staffordshire.
Palace fielded a strong line-up that included Wales international Darcy Blake, former Portsmouth striker Dindane and Manchester City loanee Alex Nimely. But it was Stoke who took the lead inside just three minutes.
Reece Hands won the ball on the edge of the Palace area and played in Jadan Hall on the right hand side of the penalty box. The winger looked up and fired a low cross to the back post that left Thomas with an easy tap-in.
Daniel Bachman was forced into a save before Dindane headed wide as the Eagles searched for a quick equaliser, but Stoke doubled their advantage eleven minutes in. Lucas Dawson's corner found Richardson at the back post and the midfielder got up well to fire a low header past the 'keeper and into the back of the net.
Richardson went close to grabbing another when his powerful free-kick beat the wall, but not Palace 'keeper Price who pushed his effort out for a corner. Archange Nkumu's quick free-kick soon after found Thomas, who had made a clever run, and the Stoke winger was only denied by a vital block in the penalty box.
The home side pulled a goal back on 34 minutes through former Lens and Portsmouth striker Dindane. Ibra Sekajja played in the 32-year-old who fired a half-volley past Stoke 'keeper Bachmann from a tight angle.
Eagles centre-half Ryan Inniss tested Bachmann with a volley just before halftime, and the Austrian goalie had to be on hand again after the restart to prevent Sulaiman Kaikai's free-kick from going in.
The impressive Richardson went close to extending the Potters' lead on the hour mark with a stunning left-foot volley that looped over Price, only for the far-post to deny him what would have been a memorable goal.
Hall was next to go close for Stoke after Jordan Keane flicked on Richardson's long throw, but his shot flew wide, and the Potters felt they should have been awarded a penalty soon after when John Marsden appeared to be fouled in the box but the referee waved away the loud protests from both the players and manager Dave Kevan on the touchline.
Palace made a triple substitution as they looked to draw level and one of those, Kadell Daniel, fired a free-kick over the bar. Richardson tried to score a free-kick of his own late on, but his attempt was easily saved by the Palace 'keeper.
The Potters deserved their 2-1 win and will be aiming to win their remaining games in a late push to finish off the foot of the League table, a position they currently occupy due to their inferior goal difference to Crystal Palace.
Stoke City: Bachmann; Keane, Parry, Nkumu, Rigg; Thomas, Richardson, Dawson, Hands, Hall; Marsden (Musungu, 87)
Unused Subs: Eve, Campbell, Glasgow, Cook
Crystal Palace: Price; Akuruka, Inniss, Blake, Parsons; Kaikai, Wynter, Dymond (Boateng, 72), Nimely (Daniel, 72); Sekajja; Dindane (Gray, 72)
Unused Subs: Allassani, King