Crystal Palace 0 Brighton 1

McShane strike stuns Palace
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The Independent Football

Having seen their team score nought, one, two, three and four in their preceding League matches, Palace fans had been hoping for a repeat of the 5-0 win they enjoyed when these two clubs renewed hostilities here two years ago after a break of 15 seasons.

Andy Johnson became an instant Palace favourite when he scored a hat-trick in that match, but he had to sit this one out. After returning as a substitute in Saturday's 4-1 win at Coventry following a month's absence with a knee problem, the England striker suffered a slight ankle injury this week in training.

Palace had been doing well enough without their leading scorer in recent weeks, but made a stuttering start here. Dougie Freedman and Clinton Morrison received little service up front, while Tom Soares and Michael Hughes struggled for command in midfield. Palace's one attack of note in the first half saw Wayne Henderson block Hughes's shot after Freedman had stepped over Morrison's cross.

Brighton, in contrast, played with confidence from the start and coped impressively with the early loss through injury of Richard Carpenter. They frequently found space behind Palace's static back four as Carole and Gary Hart set up several openings from the right flank. Their finishing, however, betrayed a lack of confidence as a series of chances were scorned before the interval.

The best fell to Leon Knight, who shot over the bar after being sent clear by Carole's clever through ball. Dean Hammond forced Gabor Kiraly to make a fingertip save, but Jake Robinson, Carole and Knight again all missed the target with clear-cut opportunities.

Palace improved after the break as their wide men, Jobi McAnuff and Marco Reich, finally started to make their mark. McAnuff danced past Hammond and Paul Reid before shooting just wide from the edge of the penalty area, while Reich, who made several promising runs, headed Danny Butterfield's corner over the bar. Another break saw McAnuff streak clear, but Hughes then shot tamely over the bar.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Butterfield, Hall, Ward, Boyce; McAnuff, Soares, Hughes, Reich (Watson, 72); Freedman ( Macken, 62), Morrison. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Borrowdale, Andrews.

Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-2): Henderson; Hart, McShane, Butters, Reid; Carole, Carpenter (Frutos, 24), Oatway, Hammond; Robinson ( Kazim-Richards, 70), Knight (El-Abd, 90). Substitutes not used: Blayney (gk), Mayo.

Referee: A R Hall (West Midlands).