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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine