Football: Palace give it all away

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Crystal Palace. . .1

Southampton . . . .2

WHILE the glorious afternoon was raising hopes of an Indian summer, the match provided only cowboy football: shoddy workmanship and poor finishing.

Opportunist goals by Iain Dowie two minutes from the end of each half earned Southampton a barely deserved first away victory of the season. But Crystal Palace were really the masters of their own misfortune. They should have established a commanding first-half lead, and would have but for the profligacy of John Salako.

The young Palace forward, who scored his first goal since return from injury in the midweek Coca-Cola Cup defeat of Lincoln, managed to pass up an inviting hat-trick in the first half alone. In the 10th minute he drove a penalty against the base of a post after Francis Benali had impeded Simon Osborn in the area. Twelve minutes later Salako raced on to Eric Young's glancing header but showed too much of the ball to the advancing Tim Flowers, who stifled the shot. And in his next dangerous foray Salako pulled the ball tantalisingly wide of the post as Flowers narrowed the angle.

Salako was not the only Palace player to be denied by the Southampton keeper. Between his heroics, however, he managed to irritate the home crowd with his dilatory goal-kicks. So it was to a chorus of boos that he ambled out of his area in the 43rd minute to hoof a free-kick upfield. His ball floated over Chris Coleman's head to the lurking Dowie who lifted a fine shot over Nigel Martyn.

Palace managed to restore parity early in the second half when Eric Young slammed the ball over a crowded goal-line following Osborn's corner, but they continued to squander chances of victory.

Martyn sorely lacked his counterpart's good fortune, or good instincts, when in the 88th minute he failed to hold a high ball under a challenge from Perry Groves, allowing Dowie to sweep in the unlooked-for winner.

Crystal Palace: N Martyn; J Humphrey (S Collymore, 81 min), L Sinnott, G Southgate, E Young, S Osborn, P Williams, C Coleman, C Armstrong, J Salako, E McGoldrick. Subs not used: D Patterson, P Heald (gk). Manager: S Coppell.

Southampton: T Flowers; J Dodd, F Benali, T Widdrington (N Maddison, 78 min), K Monkou, K Moore, M Le Tissier, P Groves, I Dowie, D Speedie, M Adams. Subs not used: N Banger, I Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot.

Referee: J Borrett (Norfolk).

Goals: Dowie (0-1, 43 min); Young (1-1, 47 min); Dowie (1-2, 88 min).