Football: Villa beaten by Bowry's first

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Crystal Palace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Aston Villa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

ASTON VILLA, who moved Match of the Day's John Motson to such hyperbole with their defeat of Ipswich last Saturday, produced a performance that was at least as enterprising at Selhurst Park last night, but the sheer stubbornness of a home side struggling for their lives at the wrong end of the table denied them a victory which would have put them top of the League.

Palace, who ended a sequence of four League defeats by beating Blackburn last week, held on defiantly to an eighth-minute goal - his first for the club - by Bobby Bowry, a former Arsenal apprentice signed on a non-contract basis at the start of the season. It was enough to lift them three places.

'It was just pure spirit,' Palace's manager, Steve Coppell, said. 'We were right for it tonight. But there are six or seven relegation candidates, and we are still one of them.'

Villa, meanwhile, are still candidates to be champions. Their manager Ron Atkinson said: 'We are only a point behind United, and these are the kind of games we should be winning.'

Coppell expressed the hope beforehand that the return of his top scorer, Chris Armstrong, would provide 'a little light in the gloom'. Armstrong's verve certainly contributed to the home side's bright and bustling start, but the first moment of illumination came from a lower-profile 21-year-old.

Bowry, making only his eighth starting appearance of the season, was given ample leeway to tee up a shot from the edge of the area after Villa had failed to clear Eddie McGoldrick's corner. He made the time count, sending a right-footed drive firmly into the roof of the net.

Within three minutes, Villa had nearly pulled level with what would have been a stupendous own-goal from Eric Young. After Steve Staunton and Ray Houghton had combined to create space on the left, the full-back's vicious cross was met by the diving figure of Young at the near post, and the ball careered off his head to miss the angle of post and bar by a fraction.

The Villa tide grew stronger after the break, but they failed to capitalise. Palace bobbed up again, with Armstrong shooting narrowly wide, after beating McGrath for pace, and Chris Coleman forcing Bosnich to tip away a header.

Crystal Palace: Martyn; Bowry, Shaw (Humphrey, 71), Coleman (Williams, 85), Young, Thorn, Osborn, Thomas, Armstrong, Rodger, McGoldrick. Substitute not used: Woodman (gk).

Aston Villa: Bosnich; Barrett, Staunton, Teale, McGrath, Richardson, Houghton, Parker (Bienlich, 78), Saunders, Yorke, Froggatt. Substitutes not used: Cox, Spink (gk).

Referee: K Redfearn (Whitley Bay).

Paul Gascoigne was substituted as his first Italian Cup campaign ended at the quarter-final stage last night when Lazio lost 3-2 (5-4 on aggregate) away to Torino. But David Platt had a better result when Juventus acheived a 3-2 aggregate victory over Parma. Two goals from Jean-Pierre Papin and one from Ruud Gullit enabled Milan to reach the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Internazionale.