Aston Villa 1 Crystal Palace 1

Last updated : 25 September 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Aston Villa's difficulty in beating promoted teams was highlighted by their third successive draw against Premiership newcomers Crystal Palace.

Palace collected only their second point of the season and remain at the foot of the table.

The battling draw was a just reward for some positive play from Iain Dowie's side that is trying desperately hard to adapt to life in the Premiership.

Bottom of the table Palace went off like a bomb. In the first minute only a desperate goal-line clearance by Olof Mellberg prevented Wayne Routledge opening the Londoners' account.

But in the next minute a long pass from Routledge found the quick-silver Andy Johnson. He rounded Mellberg to glide a low cross shot past Thomas Sorsensen.

The goal hardly pleased Villa's fans as Johnson, who was subsequently loudly booed, is a former Birmingham City player and there is no love lost between the two clubs.

Villa took along time to recover from this set-back and Johnson was always a potential danger.

In this period Palace hardly played like a team without a Premiership win to their credit, but Villa were certainly vulnerable slow out of the blocks.

It was certainly embarrassing for Villa as Palace played with more attacking penetration which exposed a sluggish opposition defence.

The first time Villa managed to get a shot in on Eagles goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, making his Premiership debut, blocked Lee Hendrie's low show with his legs.

But Hendrie had the last laugh in the 35th minute with a delightful goal scored with a 25-yard drive which left Kiraly completely bemused as the ball curled into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Hendrie celebrated first goal since April 12 and collected the first booking of the game for jumping over the advertising boards towards the Villa fans.

Kiraly was again in action desperately pushing a brilliant header from Juan Pablo Angel around the post for a corner.

Surprisingly there was no major improvement from Villa at the start of the second half and once again the danger of Johnson was ever-present.

He set up Ben Watson to fire in a shot which was flicked over the bar by Sorensen and seconds later the fair-haired Palace striker headed agonisingly wide from close range.

Man of the Match: Andy Johnson - Inspired Palace from the start with his enthusiastic and skilful play. Olof Mellberg was far from happy against the former Birmingham City livewire.