Crystal Palace 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

Last updated : 11 December 2004 By Footymad Previewer
Crystal Palace and Blackburn were forced to share the points - a result neither side wanted.

Rovers boss Mark Hughes will look back at the chances his side squandered in the first half that could have put this vital six-pointer out of Palace's reach.

And to add to Hughes' disappointment midfielder David Thompson was ordered off after collecting two yellows with a few minutes left.

It was a certainly a cagey match that was ruined by the award of a niggly 42 free-kicks. Palace must thank the excellent Gabor Kiraly for saving a point for them as he produced a five-star performance.

The Hungarian keeper was in the thick of the action in the 15th minute as he dived full-length to stop Jay Bothroyd firing Rovers in front with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.

Palace were left chasing shadows as Hughes' outfit got their act together and on the half-hour Paul Dickov was left with only Kiraly to beat but drove his shot against the Palace keeper and the ball drifted wide.

Dickov had a chance to atone for that miss but the wonder legs of Kiraly came into play again as he stopped the ball from going into the far corner of the net.

However, the ball stayed in play forcing Kiraly to make a double save as he left his goal some 18 yards out. The time Aussie defender Lucas Neill saw his effort blocked by the Eagles keeper.

In the final minute of the half, Rovers skipper Craig Short climbed above the home defence but his goalbound header was stopped by Kiraly on his goal-line.

Palace looked more solid in the second half but they still managed to give the ball away too cheaply.

Dickov fired over from Brett Emerton's cross and the Australian star then fired in a snap-shot which flew wide after a clumsy clearance from Ben Watson.

The introduction of Palace's Wayne Andrews from the bench instantly livened up the tempo of the match.

Midway through the second half Andy Johnson at last got the better of the Rovers defence and, after a fine solo run, his low right-foot shot was touched on to the post by Brad Friedel's fingertips.

At the other end Emerton fired just wide and Kiraly, who was not so overworked in the second half, made a fine save to deny Bothroyd.

Greek substitute Vassilios Lakis missed an easy header from Johnson's cross but if that had gone in it would have been an unjust result.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Gabor Kiraly (Crystal Palace) - The Hungarian keeper ensured his side hung on for a point with a string of superb saves.