Football: Thrifty Palace cash in on Matthew

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Nottingham Forest. .1

Bohinen 66

Crystal Palace. . . 1

Matthew 76

Attendance: 24,232

UNTIL last week, spending his chairman Ron Noades's money was an unknown experience for the Crystal Palace manager, Alan Smith, so the signing of Damian Matthew from Chelsea for pounds 125,000 was something of an event. A significant one too, perhaps. Yesterday, the 23- year-old midfielder marked his second game for Smith with his first goal, salvaging a point for the First Division leaders, after a scrappy game had seemed to be drifting away from them.

The result maintains Palace's advantage at three points. The gap between themselves and Forest stays at seven, which may prove meaningful over the next two months.

Forest perceived this match as one in which victory was especially important after surrendering a 13-match unbeaten run to their neighbours Notts County last weekend. At the half-way point of the second half, it appeared they would achieve their aim when Lars Bohinen, the gifted Norwegian international who scored against England in Oslo last summer, broke the deadlock with his first goal for Forest. Lurking just inside the Palace box when Scot Gemmill's left- wing corner was only half cleared, Bohinen beat Nigel Martyn with a cleanly hit low drive into the far corner.

Until then, Palace had not produced much convincing evidence of their own credentials but their response was not long coming, Matthew cutting neatly inside Stuart Pearce on the right before releasing a left-foot shot which took a deflection off the defender Steve Chettle on his way past Mark Crossley.

'I felt we did enough in the second half to have won,' Frank Clark, the Forest manager, said. 'They will be happier with the point the most.' Smith was in general agreement, although the balance of chances did not entirely support his view that the result was an accurate reflection of play.

Ian Woan missed one inviting opportunity early in the second half while, in a frantic finale, the substitute Gary Bull headed against the post and Paul Stewart blocked a David Phillips attempt on the goal- line. Against that, Matthew's pass into Chris Armstrong's path in the closing stages of the first half - wasted by Palace's top scorer with only Crossley to beat - was their clearest opening, save for the goal itself.

Palace seem to have lost some of their early season sparkle but are sitting comfortably with their lead. 'Others have spent heavily while the money for Damian is all we've parted with so far,' Smith said. 'I think there will be more available if the situation demands it.'