Palace punish plucky Potters

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Crystal Palace consolidated their grip on a play-off place with a solid 3-1 victory over Stoke at The Britannia Stadium.

Stoke, with only one win in their last 12 Championship matches, more than held their own in an exciting opening, and nearly took the lead when Marlon Broomes' 30-yard thunderbolt forced an acrobatic save from Gabor Kiraly.

Palace gradually came back into it though, and were rewarded for a sustained spell in control when Mamady Sidibe turned Emmerson Boyce's dangerous low cross into his own net under pressure from Jobi McAnuff (30).

The first half certainly had its moments, but the game really burst into life in the early stages of the second, as Josip Skoko fired The Potters level. Skoko showed admirable persistence in chasing a long throw into the area, and managed to get his toe to the ball and lob Kiraly from a tight angle.

The Eagles restored their advantage less than a minute later, McAnuff unleashing a fierce shot from the edge of the area which bounced past a despairing Steve Simonsen after taking a slight deflection off Clint Hill.

Stoke rallied strongly and nearly equalised for a second time when Kiraly pulled off a smart double save to deny Sambegou Bangoura and Darel Russell.

However, their fight back was cut short by a brilliant goal from Johnson, latching onto McAnuff's pass and outpacing the Stoke defence with ease, before clinically finishing into the bottom right corner from close range (58).

Stoke's heads dropped in the final half hour, but Iain Dowie's men did not threaten to add to their tally until an extraordinary late miss from Michael Hughes, who hit the crossbar from inside the six yard area when faced with an open goal after more good work from Johnson.