Palace demonstrate 'bouncebackability'

Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Crystal Palace 1
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The Independent Football

So Tottenham Hotspur do draw matches after all. Having recovered from a sequence of six successive defeats, Martin Jol's team failed at White Hart Lane yesterday to win a club record sixth Premiership match in a row. Andy Johnson's goal 12 minutes from time denied Tottenham, though a draw was the least Crystal Palace deserved.

So Tottenham Hotspur do draw matches after all. Having recovered from a sequence of six successive defeats, Martin Jol's team failed at White Hart Lane yesterday to win a club record sixth Premiership match in a row. Andy Johnson's goal 12 minutes from time denied Tottenham, though a draw was the least Crystal Palace deserved.

Palace have been on a run of their own. This was the ninth match in a row Iain Dowie's team have failed to win, though the Palace manager could take heart from an excellent first-half performance and, to use the word he coined earlier in the season, the "bouncebackability" they showed after going behind. The point takes them out of the bottom three.

Palace played with an assurance that belied their recent form. With Vassilis Lakis and Tom Soares starting a Premiership match for the first time, Dowie's men created a string of chances with their slick passing game. They might have gone in front as early as the second minute, when Paul Robinson just managed to deflect a Danny Butterfield cross away from the onrushing Soares.

The away team's confidence grew as the first half wore on. Lakis shot wide after the best move of the match, having been set free in the penalty area by Soares, and the Greek international then provided an even better opportunity for Johnson, whose shot from five yards was saved by Robinson.

Tottenham barely had a shot on goal in the first half, but a shrewd tactical switch by Jol at the interval changed the pattern. Pedro Mendes, replacing the ineffective Rohan Ricketts, imposed himself in midfield, Michael Brown drove forward and Jermain Defoe, anonymous in the first half, sprang into life.

Defoe's goals have been crucial for Tottenham and one of the day's biggest cheers came before the match when he was interviewed on the pitch and said that he did not want to leave "because I love it here". Whether Tottenham could resist a big-money approach from the likes of Chelsea in next month's transfer window is another matter and Defoe's second-half performance showed why he is such a hot property.

Eight minutes after the break Gabor Kiraly pushed a Defoe shot on to a post as the Palace defence gave him too much space. Less than 60 seconds later they made the same mistake and the England striker, shooting from a similar position on the edge of the area, beat Kiraly with a ferocious shot.

Palace were on the back foot for the next 15 minutes, but Tottenham created few clear-cut chances as the visiting defence, with Gonzalo Sorondo outstanding, held firm. Dowie brought on Sandor Torghelle to give Palace another option in attack and his team had three penalty appeals turned down as they resumed their earlier domination. Reward finally came after 78 minutes, when Butterfield and Aki Riihilahti combined to set up Johnson on the edge of the area, the striker turning to strike a sweet shot past the unsighted Robinson. The goal restored Johnson to his place alongside Defoe as the joint leading English scorer in the Premiership with 10 goals.

"To come here and perform as well as we did, at a ground where you wouldn't expect to dominate, was very pleasing," Dowie said."Now we have to use that as a springboard for the rest of the season."

Jol regretted the fact that his team had been unable to capitalise on their good spell. "We were terrific from early in the second half until 75 minutes or so, but in those circumstances you need to score two goals," he said. "Palace scored out of the blue and after that they might even have won the game."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Pamarot, King, Gardner, Edman; Ricketts (Mendes, h/t), Carrick, Brown, Ziegler; Defoe, Kanouté (Keane, 82). Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Redknapp, Davenport.

Crystal Palace (4-5-1): Kiraly; Butterfield, Hall, Sorondo, Granville; Routledge (Torghelle, 67), Riihilahti, Hughes, Soares, Lakis; Johnson. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Leigertwood, Boyce, Andrews.

Referee: U Rennie (South Yorkshire).

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