Football: Rough justice for Palace

IT WAS one of the most bizarre and luckiest goals you could wish to see, but at least Crystal Palace's injury-time equaliser ensured justice was done at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Nearly two minutes of added time had been played when Birmingham's Gary Rowett and Martin Grainger converged on a ball five yards outside their penalty area. Rowett attempted to clear the ball upfield, but it cannoned off Grainger, flew back over the head of Kevin Poole, the goalkeeper, and landed in the corner of the net.

While the goal gave Palace deserved reward for their industry, the greater justice was it denied Birmingham a win. On this evidence you could not imagine how Trevor Francis' side had got into a First Division play-off position, let alone stake a claim for one of the automatic promotion places.

It was hard to recall a single attacking move of note from Birmingham in 90 minutes. Their goal came from a hotly-disputed Paul Furlong penalty early in the second half, the Birmingham striker having gone down under an innocuous challenge from Craig Moore.

While their defence looked reasonably solid, Birmingham offered next to nothing going forward. Steve Robinson and Martin O'Connor never got a grip on the midfield, Jon McCarthy and Peter Ndlovu failed to provide any threat from the flanks, and Furlong and Dele Adebola looked cumbersome in attack.

Palace should have won the game in the first half, but Wayne Carlisle shot wide from six yards, Lee Bradbury's header was brilliantly saved by Poole and Gordan Petric headed against the crossbar. Steve Coppell, in charge following the departure of Terry Venables, said: "We deserved a draw. It was fabulous to see that ball go in in the end. After the way we played in the first 45 minutes and the spirit the players showed I can't be disappointed. The first 45 minutes was the best I've seen since being here but I'm not going to get carried away."

Coppell is well aware of the size of his task. Mark Goldberg, the chairman, having already torn the guts out of the side by selling nearly all the best players, is now warning that several more still have to go as he pays the price for his ill-advised appointment of Venables and for his poor record in the transfer market.

Goldberg inherited a first-team squad that featured players of the quality of Matt Jansen, Attilio Lombardo, Marc Edworthy, Dean Gordon, Neil Shipperley, Bruce Dyer, Paul Warhurst and Hermann Hreidarsson. Such a squad were rightly considered promotion material, but, with the players they have left, avoiding relegation is now Palace's only realistic target.

Of the 14 on duty here, three were youngsters who had one start between them and five more had made fewer than 20 first team appearances for the club. Even more tellingly, they had scored a total of just 16 goals for Palace between them; indeed, Palace do not have a player on their books who has scored more than eight goals for the club.

At most clubs such a situation would have the fans calling for the chairman's head, but Palace supporters are a docile bunch. Perhaps, perversely, they derive amusement from Goldberg's attempts to justify his actions. "People might think it strange given what's happened in terms of player sales and losing the manager, but we are getting stronger and more stable all the time," he said in Saturday's programme. "We are certainly moving in the right direction now." Well that's all right then.

Goals: Furlong (49, pen) 0-1; Grainger (90, og) 1-1.

Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Miller; Smith, Petric, Moore, Linighan, Fullarton; Foster (Thomson, 78), Mullins, Carlisle; Bradbury, McKenzie (Evans, 82). Substitute not used: Woozley.

Birmingham (4-4-2): Poole; Rowett, Ablett (Grainger, 23), Johnson, Charlton; McCarthy, Robinson, O'Connor, Ndlovu (Forster, 85); Furlong, Adebola (Hughes, h/t).

Bookings: Crystal Palace: McKenzie, Bradbury. Birmingham: Johnson.

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).

Attendance: 15,996.

Man of the match: Linighan.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas