Eagles claim late point
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 16/04/05 4:45pm
The six-pointer at Selhurst Park saw Crystal Palace and Norwich share six goals as they drew 3-3.
Palace took the lead early on thanks to a terrific finish from Joonas Kolkka, but Dean Ashton levelled.
Early in the second half and Norwich took a 3-1 lead as Ashton and Leon McKenzie struck.
However, Palace fought back as Michael Hughes headed home and Andy Johnson fired in another penalty.
The game was a terrific advert for Premiership football, which is somewhat ironic as neither side may be in the top flight next term.
The home side dominated the opening exchanges and the opening salvo came from Danny Butterfield but he fired over a free kick from 25 yards.
Palace had another set-piece just two minutes later and this time they worked it brilliantly as Hughes curled the ball to the back post, where Norwich's defence failed to pick up Kolkka and he fired into the top corner from an acute angle.
Norwich attempted to hit back immediately but McKenzie could only find Gabor Kiraly with his effort.
The visitors then had Robert Green to thank for keeping the score at just 1-0, as he dived brilliantly to his left to parry Dougie Freedman's header.
Norwich began to find their feet and looked more dangerous and David Bentley volleyed wide after Youssef Safri's free kick came back off the wall.
Moments later and Norwich levelled thanks to a wonderful run from Damien Francis. The Jamaican shrugged off a couple of challenges before bursting into the area, he got to the by-line and crossed into the six-yard box for Ashton - who could not miss from four yards.
Palace were then denied two very good shouts for penalties. The first came as Johnson wormed his way into the area and beckoned a challenge from Jason Shackell - which came, but Rob Styles waved play on to the fury of the home players and fans alike.
Then after Green had needlessly touched wide a harmless shot from Mikele Leigertwood, Safri looked to handle the ball from the resulting corner - but again Styles was unmoved.
Shackell and Green then almost combined to let Johnson in just before the interval as both dithered on the edge of the area, but luckily for Norwich the ball ran wide and the young defender got back to challenge.
Iain Dowie would have been looking for his side to start the second half as they did the first, so what came within 60 seconds of the re-start would not have pleased him at all as Norwich went ahead.
The goal was well taken as Ashton picked up the ball 30 yards out, he took on Gonzalo Sorondo on his outside before firing clinically into the corner past the helpless Kiraly.
The boisterous home crowd were silenced, although they did once again vent their frustration at Styles, as Johnson was again charged down in the area by Shackell without any penalty being awarded.
Things did not look as if they could get any worse for Palace, but they did as Norwich added a third just five minutes after taking the lead. The busy Darren Huckerby danced his way into the box and beat his marker before crossing into the area for McKenzie to prod the ball home from close range and the former Eagle was ecstatic to score against his old employers.
Palace needed a big response, but it was not working for them as both Wayne Routledge and Johnson were snubbed out at every turn by Norwich.
Johnson won a free kick on the edge of the area after a powerful run, but Danny Granville could only fire into the wall.
Palace were failing to create but Routledge almost dragged them back into the game as he ran rings around Thomas Helveg before breaking into the area, but his cross-cum-shot evaded everyone and it ran agonisingly across goal.
Norwich themselves were still looking dangerous and Ashton used his strength to take the ball past Sorondo, but there was nobody in the box for him so he was forced to pick out Bentley on the edge and he could only volley well over the bar.
Palace broke down the other end and they managed to pull themselves back into the game with a well worked effort. Johnson broke and while Norwich backed off expecting a shot, he crossed wonderfully for Hughes to head home powerfully from 18 yards.
The goal gave Palace real impetus and they strived forward looking for the leveller and it almost came moments later when Fitz Hall met a Routledge free kick, but his header sailed over when he perhaps should have tested Green.
Norwich looked as if they might hang on for what would have been their first away win of the season, but finally a Palace claim for a penalty was heard by referee Styles and he pointed to the spot as once again Shackell tangled with Johnson.
Johnson brushed himself down and stepped up to fire home his tenth spot kick of the season - equalling the Premiership record.
Palace pushed forward looking for the winner and Johnson tested Green with a stinging volley from 20 yards, as the game reverted to the end to end style.
As such Norwich continued to create and Huckerby almost put Norwich back ahead, but his curling effort from the edge of the area just flew wide of Kiraly's post.
Back at the other end and it was Palace who again came close and Dougie Freedman should have done better as the ball dropped for him 12 yards out but he fired straight at Green.
Palace were now piling on the pressure, but Green was again there for Norwich as he pulled of a terrific save to prevent Hall's extravagant overhead kick finding the back of the net.
The point means both sides close on the teams above them, but both managers may well look back at this game and think what could have been come the end of the season.
Click here player ratings
|Crystal Palace||Team Name||Norwich City|
|7||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5|
|3||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5|
|19||Total Fouls Conceded||22|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||34||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||33|