Crouch pounces to deny Palace

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:36

Crouch pounces to deny Palace

McArthur gave the home side the lead in the 11th minute with his first goal for the Londoners after Yannick Bolasie used his pace to beat Phil Bardsley down the left, before sending a cross into the box for the Scot to head past Asmir Begovic.
But Crouch quickly levelled for the visitors. Bojan’s cut-back from the byline was met by Jonathan Walters and when his shot came off a home defender, it fell perfectly for the former England international to tap it home.
The draw leaves Palace only one point above the relegation zone after just one win in 10 games, while Stoke remain in 11th.
The distinct lack of rhythm will worry both managers, with the away side also left to sweat on the fitness of star forward Bojan, who hobbled off early in the second half.
Neil Warnock might be hankering after a goal-poacher in the January transfer window, but leaving Marouane Chamakh up front alone hardly proved conducive to widespread threat. Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and McArthur were tasked with rushing forward to join the lone front man – fine in theory, but too often Palace lacked the killer option.
Warnock’s system cried out for the attacking midfield trio to race beyond Chamakh whenever he dropped off to link play. That happened just once in the opening hour and brought McArthur’s goal.
A turgid first half yielded just two chances, both converted, but beyond that quality was only conspicuous by its absence.
The sprightly Bolasie laid on a neat cross for McArthur to flick a back header over Begovic to hand the hosts the lead. McArthur redirected the ball with as much neck as head, hence the reasonably sheepish celebration.
Stoke’s immediate riposte fooled the crowd into expecting lift-off. Crouch tapped in Walters’ deflected shot to level, only for the battle to deflate once more.
The malaise continued after half-time, and injury to Stoke’s only creative outlet, Bojan, only made things worse. The longer Stoke failed to fire, the more the home side passed over repeated invitations to steal victory.
With no clear chances after the break, neither side merited the three points.
Soccer Saturday verdict – Paul Merson
“It was a very even game and there was nothing in it. It wasn’t really Bojan’s day. He was involved in the goal with a great bit of skill, but he didn’t really get into it. Palace were just about the better team, but at the same time Stoke were comfortable. As the game went on it fizzled out and it reminded me of a European first-leg game where nobody wants to lose the game and they’re both happy with what they had.”
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