Charlton Athletic 0 Crystal Palace 0
Two teams who have been scoring freely in recent weeks contrived to produce a First Division match at The Valley yesterday that was tediously short on chances and goalmouth incident.
Perhaps both teams had gone into the match with too much to lose. Charlton had climbed into second place thanks to a run of six wins in seven games, while a six-match unbeaten sequence had left Palace within touching distance of the play-offs.
The result was a typically hard-fought local derby in which forwards always struggled to create openings and both sides defended in numbers. Palace had the better of the first half, Charlton the second, but in truth neither side looked capable of breaking the deadlock.
Dougie Freedman was Palace's best forward and in the first half in particular he regularly bemused Jamie Stuart, Charlton's left-back. Freedman broke clear down the right wing on several occasions, but each time his final ball into the penalty area failed to match the quality of his run. At the other end Andy Roberts, Dean Gordon and Gareth Davies formed a formidable barrier at the heart of the Palace defence and Charlton barely threatened until the last 20 minutes.
Carl Leaburn was ineffective, Kim Grant could never find enough space and Lee Bowyer took the brunt of some fierce tackling, with Davies, Gareth Taylor and Bruce Dyer all shown the yellow card for fouls on Charlton's leading scorer.
Charlton felt understandably hard done by when Dyer's trip on Paul Mortimer failed to earn a penalty in the final minute."That's what you get when a forward comes back to help out," explained Ray Lewington, the Palace coach.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Salmon; Humphrey, Brown, Balmer, Stuart; Newton, Bowyer, Mortimer, Robinson; Grant (Whyte, 75), Leaburn. Substitutes not used: Nelson, Ammann (gk).
Crystal Palace (5-2-3): Martyn; Edworthy, Davies, Roberts, Gordon, Rodger; Pitcher, Houghton; Freedman, Taylor, McKenzie (Dyer, 75). Substitutes not used: Gale, Vincent.
Referee: R Gifford (Mid-Glamorgan).
Bookings: Crystal Palace: Taylor, Dyer, Davies.
Man of the match: Roberts. Attendance: 13,560.