Skefki has plenty in reserve

A SHEFKI Kuqi-led Crystal Palace side came from behind to comfortably beat Ipswich's second team at Portman Road last night.

A SHEFKI Kuqi-led Crystal Palace side came from behind to comfortably beat Ipswich's second team at Portman Road last night.

Danny Haynes had put Town in front after 20 minutes but from then on Palace looked the better side.

Former Town striker Kuqi ensured the scores were level at half time with a far-post header, before the impressive South London team took control after the break, former Colchester United midfielder Neil Danns rounding off the win in stoppage time.

Defeat signalled the first dropped points for Ipswich in this competition this season following their win over Watford last month. Chris Kiwomya's side must now improve in their remaining group matches against Charlton and QPR if they are to progress to the knock-out stages.

However, with most of Ipswich's fringe first team players sent out on loan this season, the young second string outfit look like they will struggle to replicate the domination shown by this team in recent seasons.

The match started at a frantic pace and Kuqi made a mess of a rebound following a good Shane Supple save.

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Town broke the deadlock after 19 minutes thanks to a classic counter-attack. Palace pumped the ball into the box from a deep free kick, but when Kuqi's goal-bound shot from the by-line was coolly cleared off the line by Jack Ainsley it left Haynes with acres of space to attack from out on the right touchline.

The speedster, playing in a striker's role, did not disappoint, bursting forward from the halfway line and into the box, before lobbing the ball over the on-rushing keeper.

However, just like in the first team fixture between these two sides less than three weeks ago, Palace drew level in the first half.

Kuqi, who failed to score during his injury-hit loan spell return to Town last season, played the ball out to former Everton and Sunderland winger John Oster who crossed to the back post for Kuqi to head home after 37 minutes.

The ineffective Jaime Peters, who saw little of the ball out on the left, was replaced at the break and Town's challenge was killed off two minutes after the restart when Palace left-back Nathanial Clyne cut in from the touchline before expertly firing into the bottom right-hand corner on the angle.

The lead was doubled six minutes later when James Dayton finished well from the edge of the box.

Town tried hard to get back into the game after this, Robinson making numerous excellent runs down the left, however the threat of Haynes was often counteracted by double marking.

Kuqi's involvement in the game ended after 73 minutes following a clash of heads with Robinson and, although Reason and Robisnon both had stinging efforts palmed away, Danns was left to turn in the box a minute into stoppage time to round off the scoring.

Ipswich Reserves: Shane Supple, Joe Clemo, Kurt Robinson, Ed Upson, Paul Watson, Jack Ainsley, Reggie Lambe (Luke Hyam 80), Jai Reason, Danny Haynes, Paul Murphy and Jaime Peters (Matt Daniels 45). Unused subs: Lewis Ward, Seb Dunbar and David Cawley.

Crystal Palace: Darryl Flahavan, Michael Abnett (Aaron Dalhouse 63), Nathanial Clyne, Billy Bingham, Johannes Ertl, Graeme Edwards, Jon Oster, Neil Danns, Shefki Kuqi (Nathan Pinney 73), James Dayton (Hakeem Adelukan 80) and Kieran Djilali. Unused subs: Kieron Thorp and Tauren Roberts.

Referee: Mr R Lee.

Attendance: 301.

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