Eagles wings clipped by Doncaster
Chris Brown’s late equaliser denied Crystal Palace three points as they were held 1-1 by relegation-threatened Doncaster Rovers at Selhurst Park.
For large parts of the game Palace were again lacklustre and needed a spark of imagination.
Only in the brief period after Jermaine Easter’s goal, provided by a moment of Wilfried Zaha brilliance, did they really impress but they failed to push on and grab a second.
Doncaster, led by the impressive El Hadji Diouf, fought their way back into the game and levelled with 15 minutes left though Chris Brown to grab a share of the points.
Fabien Robert had already wasted a good chance for Doncaster by shooting straight at Julian Speroni from 12 yards when the Eagles were forced into their first change after five minutes as the limping Paul McShane was replaced by Anthony Gardner.
Jonathan Williams curled over for Palace while Frederic Piquionne headed wide and then toe-poked onto the post from six yards.
The Eagles then had to make another defensive reshuffle as Gardner went down clutching his hamstring – leaving Dean Moxey to play centre-back alongside Paddy McCarthy, Nathaniel Clyne left back and Stuart O’Keefe right back.
Zaha cut inside Habib Beye to register Palace’s first shot on target on 37 minutes but it was low and easy for Carl Ikeme.
Ikeme was tested further before the break when Zaha’s cross found Glenn Murray eight yards out but the keeper saved well with his legs.
The second half started in dire fashion until Zaha’s tricks paid off and Palace went ahead.
The winger, returning from a three-match ban, robbed John Oster of the ball and tricked his way to the bye-line before crossing for Easter to poke into an empty goal after the ball hit Adam Lockwood and wrong-footed Ikeme.
It was Easter first goal since New Year’s Eve.
A minute later it was almost 2-0 as Murray headed into the side netting but just as it looked like they would go on and win the game, they took their foot off the gas.
Piquionne and Beye shot just wide before pinball in the Palace box ended with substitute Brown smashing home a volley to equalise.
If anything, Doncaster looked more likely to win it after that, although Zaha did flash a couple of shots off target for Palace.
The Eagles moved up to 13th because of the draw and are back to within six points of the play-offs but recent performances suggest Palace fans will have to settle for mid-table.