Mark Perrow reports from Selhurst Park
Hosts Crystal Palace ran out comfortable victors as City’s winless away run extended to seven matches at Selhurst Park.
Glenn Murray’s first half strike 10 minutes before the interval was added to by Stephen Dobbie, who sent a superb curling free kick into the top corner just five minutes after coming off the bench.
Before, in between and after the goals City kept plugging away, but struggled to create clear chances of their own, while the Londoners twice hit the woodwork with goal of the season contenders either side of the break.
There was still time for a remarkable replica of the own goal scored by Cardiff's Ben Nugent three days prior, as defender Jonathan Parr sent a looping header over his own keeper in added time, but City's fate was already sealed.
Sean O’Driscoll welcomed back Greg Cunningham from injury, while the City head coach also handed a first start to Albert Adomah
since the winger returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty, as Richard Foster and Steven Davies dropped to the bench.
City looked to have settled well in the early stages, with Marvin Elliott registering the first shot on target from Paul Anderson’s free kick, but the youthful exuberance of the hosts would soon cause problems.
Cunningham found himself in the book inside 14 minutes for a clear foul on Jonathan Williams, while Tom Heaton had to be alert in the City goal to deal with Murray’s snapshot before Brendan Moloney made a crucial intervention at the striker’s feet from Yannick Bolasie’s low cross.
Adomah was not too far away with a free kick near the right corner of the penalty area, but at the other end City were indebted to the assistant referee for remaining on level terms.
When Stephen Pearson’s square pass in midfield was seized upon by Jazz Richards, the marauding right-back fed Murray and continued his run before neatly tucking finishing the return pass, only for the offside flag to intervene for what looked a very tight call.
Moments later another one-two down threatened an increasingly likely Palace opener. City old boy Bolasie eventually found the ball back at his feet from Kagisho Dikgacoi’s knockdown, and when the ball sat up behind him, the summer signing unleashed an audacious overhead kick that looked destined for the top corner only to bounce down and out off the underside of the crossbar.
The home side were cranking up the pressure, and England international Wilfried Zaha was next to come close, controlling Williams’ low cross and manufacturing space for a shot only to be denied by a crucial last-ditch block from Brendan Moloney as the ball deflected up and over the bar for a corner.
When the deadlock breaker did finally arrive, it came in particularly preventable circumstances, as Mile Jedinak’s quick thinking from just inside the City half saw the Australian land a free kick perfectly into the path of Murray, who slid in to score his 27th league goal of a prolific season in painfully simple fashion.
At half-time O’Driscoll was forced to replace the injured Moloney, who only passed a late fitness test to play, allowing Foster to slot in at right-back.
Palace continued to attack and find the all-important second goal, as Bolasie crossed for Murray only for the goalscorer to be flagged offside when Heaton saved smartly down to his right, before Parr sent a curling shot just over the crossbar.
Foster forced a fairly regulation save from the otherwise untroubled Julian Speroni in a rare foray, before substitute Dobbie sent an inch-perfect free kick over the City wall and into Heaton’s top right corner to double the lead.
The Robins side did show signs of mounting a fightback, as Jon Stead latched on to Foster’s cross but saw his stooping header well held by Speroni, before Pearson was sacrificed to make way for a second striker in Davies.
But evergreen goal-getter Kevin Phillips was also on for Palace, and nearly added to his seemingly endless collection with a dipping volley from 25 yards that crashed against the top of Heaton’s bar.
O’Driscoll’s last hand was to throw on Wes Burns on the right flank in place of Adomah, but, despite Parr's generosity at the death, the visitors now drop to the foot of the npower Championship table with 13 games to play.