Football: Demolition Dyer

Crystal Palace 3 Dyer 33, 62, 66 Leicester City 0 Attendance: 15,489
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The Independent Online
THE Crystal Palace manager, Steve Coppell, professes himself to be an admirer of Leicester, and even sees them as a role model in the art of smaller club survival in the Premiership. But come the FA Cup, it was Palace who showed the greater resolve and, with a mixture of resilience and opportunism, they eventually emerged as comfortable victors.

This was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance from Leicester, who owe their Premiership durability to sound defence. But they made three horrible defensive errors and were punished each time by Bruce Dyer. By contrast, Coppell looks to have made an astute purchase in the French defender, Valerien Ismael, who made an assured debut and played a great part in shadowing Emile Heskey into obscurity.

Palace's long injury list and the late withdrawal of the Italian striker Michele Padovano caused Coppell to describe his selection as "a patchwork quilt of a side", but he was still reserved in his praise for Dyer, who had two more clear opportunities to score in the final minutes. "Bruce still needs to learn to be a top Premiership striker," he said. "One moment he is brilliant and the next he cocks it up. But he wants to improve and that's part of the appeal of the player."

But for the first half-hour, Leicester were clearly the better side with some controlled possession play in midfield, which created a good chance for Heskey. He was denied by a brilliant reflex save from Kevin Miller, who also blocked a fierce near-post strike from Ian Marshall.

The normally reliable Matt Elliott was guilty of the first Leicester mistake when he allowed the ball to loop over his shoulder, only for Dyer to sneak in, round the keeper and fire home.

Defender Steve Walsh and the goalkeeper, Kasey Keller, conspired to present Dyer with his second when they flapped at a Dale Gordon cross. And Dyer was on hand again three minutes later when an attempted clearance by Pontus Kaamark sliced into his path.

"We were desperately poor and I'm desperately disappointed," the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, said. "I hate to lay into Matt Elliott but he might as well have sat by me for the afternoon for all the good he did."