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Ashton Gate (ATT 14,603) 15th August 2009 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: R Shoebridge

Bristol C Bristol City vs Crystal Palace C Palace

Bristol C 1

N Maynard (89)


Ref blunder gifts Robins win

Palace fury as official rules out Sears 'goal'

Last Updated: 15/08/09 5:25pm

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Maynard: late winner for Robins

Maynard: late winner for Robins

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.

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Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Derby County 18 35
2 Bournemouth 18 32
3 Middlesbrough 18 32
4 Ipswich Town 18 31
5 Brentford 18 31
6 Blackburn Rovers 18 30
7 Watford 18 29
8 Nottingham Forest 18 28
9 Charlton Athletic 18 28
10 Norwich City 18 27
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 27
12 Cardiff City 18 26
13 Sheffield Wednesday 18 22
14 Huddersfield Town 18 21
15 Reading 18 21
16 Leeds United 18 20
17 Fulham 18 19
18 Millwall 18 19
19 Birmingham City 18 19
20 Brighton and Hove Albion 18 18
21 Bolton Wanderers 18 18
22 Rotherham United 18 18
23 Wigan Athletic 18 17
24 Blackpool 18 8