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Palace 0-0 Brighton: Murray suffers nasty injury as Palace held by arch-rivals

CRYSTAL Palace will have to go to Brighton & Hove Albion's AMEX Stadium and win if they're to reach the Championship play-off final at Wembley after they were held to a goalless draw by their arch-rivals this evening.

And it looks like they will have to do it without the services of Glenn Murray, who was sadly stretchered off with what looks like knee ligament damage in the second half.

Furthermore, Jonny Williams could be a injury doubt for Monday's second leg after he hobbled off midway through the second period.

The Eagles made just the one change before the game with Williams coming in to replace Yannick Bolasie, while Owen Garvan continued in the middle of the park after his recent return to the side.

Palace made a very bright start to the game backed by a sold out crowd but Brighton had the first chance when Wayne Bridge's cross was headed wide by striker Leonardo Ulloa.

Williams responded for the hosts when let fly from outside the box with a fizzing shot which had Tomasz Kuszczak beaten, but the ball went inches wide of the post.

However, Brighton began to get into their rhythm and they nearly took the lead through Dean Hammond, who had a point-blank header saved superby by Speroni.

And then Palace went close up the other end when Wilfried Zaha, playing his last game at Selhurst Park for the Eagles, cut the ball back from the byline to Glenn Murray, who saw his shot rebound to Kagisho Dikgacoi who then saw his effort blocked.

One major talking point came on 32 minutes when Matthew Upson was clearly all over Murray inside the box as they contested for a high ball, but nothing was given by Premier League referee Michael Oliver.

Every time Zaha got the ball down the right, Brighton did their best to make it difficult by putting two men on him, including the experienced Wayne Bridge, but it didn't stop the winger from having a lively first half.

Zaha had the first chance of the second period when he looked for the bottom corner but his shot from the edge of the box was smothered by Kuszczak.

The Eagles had certainly upped the tempo and they went very close to opening the scoring when Zaha played the ball across the six-yard area but both Williams and then Murray couldn't make a connection.

Speroni had to be alert moments later when a Brighton free-kick was curled into the danger area, which saw Hammond downwards towards goal but the offside flag had gone up. Nevertheless, the custodian was brave to smother the ball at the second attempt.

Up at the other end, Ian Holloway's men went even closer to drawing first blood when Danny Gabbidon saw a header well-saved from Kusczcak before the ball was cleared off the line by a Andrea Orlandi.

But then came a massive blow to Palace when, in the 64th-minute, Murray looked to turn on the ball with his back to goal but instead his knee went one way and then the other, leaving him in a huge distress.

It was very similar to the way Michael Owen did his ligaments at the World Cup in 2006, and that has surely ruled Murray out of Monday's second leg and more.

Some may have expected Kevin Phillips to make an entrance from the bench but instead Holloway plumped for the target man figure of Aaron Wilbraham to replace.

And then it got even worse for Palace as Williams was forced to come off with an injury, with Bolasie coming on to replace him.

But it didn't stop them having a go at the Brighton backline as Dikgacoi saw an effort inside the box cleared off the line by Inigo Calderon.

Kevin Phillips came on for Garvan with minutes remaining as Holloway looked for the winner, while Orlandi went off for Brighton through injury.

But they couldn't muster up a winner and it will need another top display from Palace if they're to have any chance of reaching Wembley.

The rollercoaster continues at the AMEX on Monday.

Palace: Speroni, Ward, Moxey, Gabbidon, Delaney, Dikgacoi, Jedinak (c), Garvan (Phillips 86), Williams (Bolasie 76), Zaha, Murray (Wilbraham 67).

Subs Not Used: Price, Ramage, O'Keefe, Moritz.

Attendance: 23,294

By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

Palace 0-0 Brighton: Murray suffers nasty injury as Palace held by arch-rivals

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