Kevin Phillips' joy at scoring his 200th League goal turned to disappointment as West Bromwich Albion missed out on a victory that would have lifted them into third place in the Championship last night.
The striker scored for the 20th time this season – quite deliciously at that – to prolong the euphoria generated by the club's progress to the FA Cup semi-finals. But Crystal Palace defended with efficiency and came out purposefully in the second half to equalise with a first senior goal by the 17-year-old Victor Moses.
"Kevin has been doing that for 15 years," said Albion's manager, Tony Mowbray. "Nobody should be surprised by the quality of his goal but, ultimately, the night was frustrating. Palace worked hard and denied us any fluency."
At first, Palace kept Albion at arm's length, Phillips dragging wide after a delightful exchange of passes with Zoltan Gera and heading Jonathan Greening's deep cross into the side netting. The striker was not to be denied, though. On the half-hour, Paul Robinson picked him out with a low pass through the middle and Phillips controlled brilliantly with his first touch and clipped the ball over Julian Speroni with his second.
Palace mustered only a Tom Soares header straight at Dean Kiely and an unsuccessful penalty appeal for Jared Hodgkiss's challenge on Ben Watson, but they took a grip after half-time.
With Albion having to substitute a substitute, James Morrison, who had gone on for Chris Brunt, Mark Hudson directed a header wide from Watson's free-kick. When the midfielder crossed again, in the 55th minute, James Scowcroft nodded down for the unmarked Moses to dig out a low shot that beat Kiely at his near post.
Albion regained some fluency and Speroni saved successive long-range efforts by Ishmael Miller and Kim Do Heon and from Phillips near full-time.
There was little doing at the other end, though Miller found room for a drive that climbed too high, and Palace held on for a draw to boost their play-off hopes. "It was a super point," said their manager, Neil Warnock. "We upped it in the second half and were a yard quicker to the ball."
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Hodgkiss, Barnett, Albrechtsen, Robinson; Gera (Moore, 67), Greening, Koren, Brunt (Morrison, 39; Kim, h-t); Phillips, Miller. Substitutes used: Bednar, Martis.
Crystal Palace (4-1-4-1): Speroni; Lawrence, Fonte, Hudson, Hill; Derry; Soares (Morrison, 45), Fletcher, Watson (Hughes, 87), Moses (Scannell, 61); Scowcroft. Substitutes used: Hills, Robinson.
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).
* Cardiff City, through with West Bromwich Albion to the FA Cup semi-finals, beat Hull City 1-0 at Ninian Park last night. Stephen McPhail scored the only goal of the game inside the first minute.
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