Queen's Park Rangers. .1
THIS was not one of the derbies that everyone had their eye on this weekend, and at times that apparently went for the participants. Crystal Palace managed to scramble the draw they probably deserved, and Rangers, with precious little left to play for, were happy to let them have it. Palace are not yet safe and still need wins. On this form, whether they will get them, and whether the Premier League will miss them if they do not, remains open to conjecture.
It was not surprising that the equaliser was in fact scored by Rangers, and several of Palace's best chances arose from slap-dash defending. Chris Coleman was given time to charge down a clearance from Tony Roberts and could have caused more damage, then Darren Peacock tried to play his way out of defence, only to set up Paul Williams, whose shot beat Roberts but not Alan McDonald.
There was a lot of that sort of thing in a first half that cried out for a spark of simple, intelligent football. It was Andy Sinton, assisted by some slack marking, who provided. He took a through ball from Dennis Bailey, thought about shooting before haring to the byline and crossing low for Bradley Allen to slide the ball in.
After McDonald obstructed Williams, Andy Thorn hammered a free-kick just over the bar, and on the stroke of half-time Thorn's improbable gymnastic volley was not far wide. After the break George Ndah sliced a shot spectacularly wide and was substituted soon afterwards. Palace at once gained shape and in a mini-burst of excitement they did beat the otherwise solid Roberts, but from a low Osborn cross Peacock was there on the line. From the ensuing corner Roberts tipped the excellent Williams's drive over the bar.
Then David Bardsley deflected Simon Rodger's right-wing free- kick into his own net, and Palace started to bang their heads against the brick wall of Rangers' defence with greater conviction. In the end, will grit be enough?
Crystal Palace: N Martyn; R Shaw, G Southgate, C Coleman, G Ndah (D Gordon, 57 min), A Thorn, S Osborn, G Thomas, P Williams, S Rodger, E McGoldrick. Subs not used: G Watts, M Thomas (gk). Manager: S Coppell.
Queen's Park Rangers: T Roberts; D Bardsley, R Brevett, C Wilson, D Peacock, A McDonald, A Impey, I Holloway, D Bailey, B Allen, A Sinton (D White, 75 min). Subs not used: K Ready, J Stejskal (gk). Manager: G Francis.
Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).
Goals: Allen (0-1, 23 min); Bardsley og (1-1, 62 min).