Ref blunder gifts Robins win
A glaring error by referee Rob Shoebridge gave Bristol City a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Last Updated: 15/08/09 5:25pm
Controversy reigned at Ashton Gate as Nicky Maynard's late strike gave Bristol City a win after a glaring error by referee Rob Shoebridge denied Crystal Palace an obvious goal.
In a farcical situation which resembled last season's "phantom goal" in Reading's clash with Watford, Palace striker Freddie Sears fired past Dean Gerken into the bottom corner, with the ball bouncing straight back out of the net after hitting the stanchion.
However, after lengthy discussions with his assistant referee, Shoebridge inexplicably ruled that the ball had not gone in and awarded a goal kick to City.
The goal would have given Palace just rewards for their dominant performance as City were indebted to Gerken, who made a string of good saves to keep the visitors at bay, with efforts from Sears and Lee bringing out particularly good stops.
City were largely ineffective throughout the game but won it in the final moments when Maynard finished from close-range.
The opening exchanges were a tight affair as both teams jostled for superiority and although the hosts were looking the most creative going forward, it was Palace that had the first opportunity when Alan Lee brought a good save out of Gerken with a header.
The game opened up and Palace thought they had taken the lead on the half-hour mark when the ball broke to on-loan striker Sears and he unleashed a shot from just inside the penalty area. The ball appeared to beat Gerken and go in the net before straight back out.
Sears and his team-mates immediately celebrated what seemed an obvious goal but Shoebridge had other ideas and a goal kick was awarded to the fury of the Palace players and manager.
The incident continued to dominate proceedings with Palace boss Neil Warnock continually chastising the fourth official and City almost made matters worse for Palace when Ivan Sproule forced Julian Speroni in to a fine stretching save.
The visitors were clearly spurred on by their injustice and started the second half at good pace. Lee went close with a header before Darren Ambrose sent a rasping shot just wide of Gerken's upright.
Palace continued on top, with Lee and Sears missing good chances, while the impressive West Ham man caused more trouble for the Robins when he drilled a low effort that was well saved by Gerken. Ambrose, who joined the Eagles in the summer from Charlton, then put a free-kick just wide of the post.
Then, just as the game looked to be heading for a stalemate, the Robins rubbed further salt into Palace's wounds when Maynard popped up to poke a loose ball home in the 90th minute to give his side a barely-deserved win with Palace having no time to respond.