Football: Eagles are encouraged

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Crystal Palace. . .2

Oldham Athletic . .2

CRYSTAL PALACE remain the only Premier League side without a victory, but the Eagles should take encouragement from a second-half fightback which nearly brought an elusive three points.

The south London supporters who boycotted this encounter because of their frustration over the sale of Mark Bright must be feeling foolish: they missed the promising home debut of Chris Armstrong, a pounds 1m signing from Millwall, who is clearly the man meant to replace Bright. Paul Williams, slight and nippy, seems intended to take over the Ian Wright role.

The first half was so without pattern it was frustrating. Oldham took the lead after 18 minutes when Gunnar Halle, their Norwegian international, turned and crossed in the area and Ian Olney crashed the ball home from close range. Steve Coppell reorganised his team at half-time. Skipper Geoff Thomas, apparently having trouble breathing, was taken off for Chris Coleman. Eddie McGoldrick and John Salako were pushed forward to give the new strike-force much-needed support.

After 65 minutes McGoldrick's cross was flicked on by Williams and Armstrong struck the ball home. Fifty seconds later Salako provided when Armstrong - again - headed home his cross.

With time running out Oldham fought back. Paul Bernard crossed from the left and Olney missed the ball but an unmarked Graeme Sharp made no mistake.

Exactly three years ago Palace lost 9-0 to Liverpool. After some heady times there is once again a feeling of unease at Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace: N Martyn; J Humphrey, L Sinnott, G Southgate, E Young, S Osborn, P Williams, G Thomas (C Coleman, h/t), C Armstrong, J Salako, E McGoldrick. Subs not used: G Ndah, P Heald (gk). Manager: S Coppell.

Oldham Athletic: J Hallworth; S Redmond, N Pointon, N Henry (N Adams, 65 min), R Jobson, I Marshall, G Halle, I Olney, G Sharp, M Milligan, P Bernard. Subs not used: C Fleming, J Keeley (gk). Manager: J Royle.

Referee: B Hill (Kettering).

Scorers: Olney (0-1, 18 min); Armstrong (1-1, 65 min); Armstrong (2-1, 66 min); Sharp (2-2, 77 min).

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