Palace despair as old boy Martyn saves Leeds blushes

Crystal Palace 2 Leeds United 2
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The Independent Online
There was pandemonium at the Palace last night as a frantically eventful FA Cup third round tie ended in drama and - you might say - debate.

Such was Leeds' anger at the award of an 88th-minute penalty to Palace for Lucas Radebe's challenge on Bruce Dyer that all but one of the Premiership side's players - Rod Wallace - surrounded the referee, Roger Dilkes, in furious protest.

Further Leeds comment was clearly being aimed at Dyer as he stepped forward to take the kick. His first effort was blocked by the former Palace favourite, Nigel Martyn, and as the rebound came to him, he pulled the ball wide of an empty net.

Palace glazed; Palace shattered. But had it not been for the point-blank save by their own keeper, Chris Day, eight minutes from time after Brian Deane had broken through, they would not even have been able to console themselves with the thought of a replay on Saturday week.

The First Division side deserved their second chance, however, for the way they recovered after giving their opponents two goals in the opening seven minutes.

The first was driven home by Deane after Palace's captain, David Hopkin, had miskicked an attempted clearance from Radebe's free-kick. Two minutes later Palace drew level from the penalty spot, Dyer converting without fuss on this occasion after an incident involving himself and Paul Beesley. The Leeds defender earned himself a booking for protesting against the decision, which appeared to be for a push.

Within two minutes, however, Palace restored the visiting side's lead for them. Deane, causing mayhem as he switched wings, reached the right byline and sent in a near-post cross which was driven inexplicably into the top corner of his own net by the Palace defender Leif Andersen.

The second half grew steadily fractious, and just after the hour Palace's Kevin Muscat was booked for a retaliatory foul on Lee Bowyer, whose name was also taken for his initial challenge on Carl Veart. The two Palace players combined more positively in the 70th minute as Veart headed an equaliser from Muscat's right-wing cross.

George Graham, the Leeds manager, pronounced himself "delighted" with the result, although he said he did not think either of the penalties his side conceded were valid. "I thought the referee had a poor match," he said.

Graham questioned why Dilkes had consulted his linesman before awarding the second penalty; perhaps the referee's vociferous entourage had something to do with it. "The way my players reacted was understandable," Graham said. "They are only human. If they don't react, they are accused of lacking passion."

Dave Bassett, Palace's manager, had a different view. "I just can't believe the pressure the referee was put under on decisions," he said. "It was the players who made it difficult for him."

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Day; Edworthy, Roberts, Andersen, Gordon; Hopkin, Muscat, Veart, Ndah McKenzie, 71); Dyer, Shipperley. Substitutes not used: Freedman, Burton.

Leeds United (3-5-2): Martyn; Radebe, Wetherall, Beesley; Kelly, Jackson, Bowyer, Wallace, Dorigo (Sharpe, 10); Rush, Deane. Substitutes not used: Harte, Beeney (gk).

Referee: L R Dilkes (Mossley).

Photograph, more FA cup reports, results, page 23