Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 1: Burley's men show mettle in game marred by dubious decisions

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The Independent Online

If George Burley is to guide Southampton to a spot in the end-of-season play-offs, more perseverance and industry of the kind that saw his 10-man team take the lead against Crystal Palace yesterday will be needed.

Southampton, however, had to make do with a point when the midfielder Jobi McAnuff equalised after Chris Baird had put the home side up at the start of the second half. But there was real promise in the display from Burley's men.

"I was delighted with the response of the players," said the Scot, after his striker Kenwyne Jones was sent off early in the game. "Overall, the commitment, effort and quality that the 10 players showed was great."

He added: "The crowd played their part. Hopefully we can get a good run together and won't be too far off at the end of the season."

Crystal Palace's response to Southampton's early possession was purposeful and the game briefly looked like it had the makings of an entertaining contest. Enter the referee, Richard Beeby.

He sent off Jones for reacting angrily to falling in the penalty area on 28 minutes. Jones appeared to raise his hand to the face of the defender Mark Hudson. The animosity created between the players by the dismissal, together with a number of questionable decisions by Beeby, including the award of a yellow card to Scott Flinders, the Crystal Palace goalkeeper, when he appeared to handle outside the penalty area, put paid to any chances of football breaking out in a disappointing first half.

Southampton took the lead a minute after the break when the defender Baird glanced in Jermaine Wright's corner. But Palace were only behind for eight minutes. McAnuff dispossessed Baird before surging through on goal and slotting confidently past Kelvin Davis.

What remained of the game saw Southampton's forward play meet resistance from Palace's ragged back line. Admirably, the home side pushed on, but the defence stood firm and the points were shared.

Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Bale, Baird, Lundekvam, Ostlund; Skacel, Wright, Pele, Surman (Wright-Phillips, 88); Rasiak, Jones. Substitutes not used: Bialkowski (gk), Idiakez, Dyer, Viafara.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Flinders; Granville, Ward, Hudson, Butterfield; McAnuff, Kennedy, Fletcher (Reich, 46), Soares; Kuqi, Morrison (Freedman, 66). Substitutes not used: Wilkinson (gk), Lawrence, Scowcroft.

Referee: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).

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