By Nick Wright at Selhurst Park
Saturday, January 5, 2013
FA Cup third round: Crystal Palace 0 Stoke City 0
Wilfried Zaha hobbled off with an injury as Crystal Palace were forced to settle for an FA Cup replay against Stoke City despite being on top for much of the tie at Selhurst Park.
In a game of few clear cut chances, promotion hopefuls Palace acquitted themselves well against their Premier League opposition but couldn’t find a way through.
In-demand winger Zaha has been strongly linked with a January move to the Premier League but his club and suitors will be hoping the injury which forced him off early in the second half is not too serious.
The 20-year-old went down under a late challenge from Stoke’s Ryan Shotton just before the break, and although he started the second half, he was withdrawn and trudged down the tunnel 10 minutes later.
With one eye on Palace’s Championship promotion campaign, Ian Holloway made four changes to the side that beat Wolves 3-1 here on New Year’s Day.
Top scorer Glenn Murray was among those rested as Jermaine Easter, Stuart O’Keefe, Damien Delaney and goalkeeper Lewis Price all started.
The rotation extended to Palace’s bench, where five academy graduates made for an average age of under 20.
Stoke, meanwhile, named a strong line up, with Michael Owen making his first start for the club up front with Peter Crouch.
Palace made a bright start against their Premier League opponents, with Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jermaine Easter combining well in a fluid front three.
After three minutes Easter cut in from the left-hand side and hit a curling shot that drew a good save from the outstretched Thomas Sorenson.
Moments later Zaha’s neat pass found Bolasie on the right-hand side of the box but his dangerous looking cut back was hacked clear.
Stoke should have taken the lead after 12 minutes when Crouch squandered a glorious chance from six yards out, scuffing his shot wide after a headed flick from Owen.
That was the visitors’ only real chance of the first half, though, as Palace asked most of the questions.
It could have been very different, though, as midfielder O’Keefe was lucky to stay on the pitch when he was only booked for a studs up challenge on Jonathan Walters after 21 minutes.
Andre Moritz, who hit two stunning free kicks in the win against Wolves, almost got his third in two games midway through the half but his low shot crept narrowly wide.
Zaha, meanwhile, was doing his burgeoning reputation no harm with a lively first half display.
After 41 minutes the 20-year-old showed impressive strength to hold off two Stoke defenders and force an acrobatic save from Sorenson after latching on to Mile Jedinak’s through ball.
But just before the break Shotton’s late challenge on Zaha went unpunished by referee Neil Swarbrick, provoking a furious reaction from the Palace bench.
The youngster hobbled off to receive treatment. He was greeted with huge cheers when he re-emerged from the interval but, still limping, he soon made way for youngster Jonny Williams.
The Eagles had carved out their first opening of the half two minutes previously, when Moritz woefully miss-hit a shot from 15 yards after a driving run from Bolasie.
Tony Pulis took off the anonymous Michael Owen and Michale Kightly and substitute Cameron Jerome shot straight at Price for their first shot on target after 55 minutes.
As well as 19-year-old Williams, Palace boss Holloway gave youngsters Kwesi Appiah and Jason Banton a taste of the action in the second half.
And the latter could have put his side into the lead after 74 minutes but he fired an angled shot wide of Sorenson’s near post when a cross might have been the better option.
Stoke substitute Charlie Adam saw an audacious 45-yard lob sail over and Moritz blasted wide before Palace survived a dangerous looking cross from Geoff Cameron in the closing stages.
But the sides couldn’t be separated as the tie headed to a replay.
Crystal Palace: Price, Parr, Delaney, Ramage, Moxey, Jedinak (c), O’Keefe, Moritz, Zaha (Williams 55), Bolasie (Banton 69), Easter (Appiah 66). Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Parsons, Wynter, Taylor.
Stoke: Sorenson, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross (c), Shotton, Whitehead, N’Zonzi, Kightly (Jerome 55), Walters, Crouch (Jones 74), Owen (Adam 53). Subs not used: Nash, Upson, Etherington, Wilkinson.
Referee: Mr N Swarbrick