Crystal Palace vs Stoke match report: Peter Crouch makes it honours even after James McArthur put Eagles in front

Crystal Palace 1 Stoke City 1: Crouch close to settling the ultimate bore

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The Independent Online

Two early first-half goals within 90 seconds of each other were all that elevated this game very slightly above an instantly forgettable 0-0 draw.

Hosts Crystal Palace played with far less intensity and incision than in either of their two previous goalless performances against Spurs and Aston Villa, yet this time they were in front within ten minutes.

Yannick Bolasie was as dangerous as ever down the left, and can now add Phil Bardsley to the growing list of Premier League right backs of whom he has quite easily had the better. It was his cross that picked out James McArthur, who cleverly looped a header high over Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and into the net.

For a full 90 seconds there was much to celebrate. But a low cross from Bojan at the other end moved seemingly in slow motion all the way past a defence seemingly unaware that the game had restarted, and was rolled in at the back post by an entirely unmarked Peter Crouch.

Crouch’s celebrations led him past the bottom right of the Holmesdale Stand, home of the so- called Palace Ultras and arguably the noisiest little corner in the entire league. But their own goal celebrations had fallen silent almost before they’d begun. “It was like a war of attrition, I think from the first minute,” said Palace manager Neil Warnock. “Teams now are time wasting from the very start. You’ve got to cope with that.

“The problem was we didn’t keep the lead for long enough. We conceded straight away, but we were attacking, we were trying to get the second goal. And that was the only blip of the whole afternoon defensive wise.

“It’s easier to play against Stoke at Stoke than it is at our place. You get a more open game up there. But they’re strong, they know what they’re doing. It’s up to us to break them down.”

Crouch might have won it a minute before end when a long throw broke to him on the penalty spot. He did well to be first to the ball, and had his half volleyed shot been just a little further to the right of Julian Speroni the win would have been Stoke’s.

“We have to be reasonably pleased with an away point. It’s always difficult to come to Palace and we must give credit to them,” said Stoke manager Mark Hughes.

“In an attacking sense we would have liked to produce more. We struggled last year away from home; we’re better this year. When you look at what Palace managed to create against Tottenham last week compared to today we’ve got to be happy.”

Happy, perhaps, but this match will have given scant cause for optimism to either side.

Crystal Palace: (4-3-2-1) Speroni; Kelly, Hangeland, Dann, Ward; Jedinak, McArthur (Bannan, 85), Ledley; Bolasie, Zaha (Puncheon, 59); Chamakh (Gayle, 77).

Stoke City: (4-4-1-1) Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Nzonzi, Cameron, Diouf, Bojan (Arnautovic, 55); Walters; Crouch.

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Bolasie (Crystal Palace)

Match rating: 2/10

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