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Nottingham Forest 2-2 Palace: Murray double not enough as Sharp denies Eagles

CRYSTAL Palace ended 2012 with a 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest this afternoon, denied all three points by Billy Sharp's equaliser in added-on time.

Glenn Murray looked to have stolen a victory for Ian Holloway's men with a fantastic looping header to add to his first half strike in front of 1,800 travelling supporters from south London.

After a bright start to the match, it was Palace who drew first blood after eight minutes thanks to top goalscorer Murray.

Andre Moritz played in Dean Moxey down the left, and the former Derby County man drove a superb low ball across goal for Murray to slide in at the back post and finish.

Julian Speroni had to be alert minutes later as Forest looked for a quick response when he got down low to palm away Sharp's effort from just inside the box.

Moritz had the next chance of the match when he drilled a shot wide from outside the box, while Andy Reid's dangerous free-kick caused havoc in the Palace box with Speroni racing out to catch, but luckily the ball went out for a goal kick.

Palace began to dictate play with some slick passing around the heavy pitch at the City Ground, but it was Forest who went close to finding the back of the net when Sharp met Radoslaw Majweski's cross with his head, but saw the ball crash back off the post.

Danny Gabbidon had volley towards goal cleared away following a Moritz free-kick, and as the ball came back out to the Brazilian, he took a touch before drilling another effort wide from outside the box.

But the hosts, under new manager Alex McLeish, ended the first half very strongly and grabbed an equaliser shortly before the half-time whistle when Reid found the bottom corner.

Wilfried Zaha had a quiet first period but he had the first real chance of the second half when he drilled a low shot inches past the post from the edge of the box, while at the other end, Speroni pulled off a superb stop to deny Chris Cohen's piledriver inside the box.

Forest continued to have plenty of possession but the Eagles looked good on the counter as well, with Bolasie and Zaha beginning to look a lot more lively than they did in the first period.

Sharp then headed over at the back post from Reid's cross after 70 minutes before Holloway sent on Jermaine Easter and Jonathan Williams for Zaha and Moritz.

Gabbidon flicked Williams' corner over the bar shortly after while Forest made another change, bringing on Henri Lansbury for Cohen as the match began to fizzle out with ten minutes remaining.

However, the match came back to life moments later when Murray put Palace ahead again with a fantastic looping header that left Camp in the Forest goal completely stranded.

Inevitably, Forest looked for a way back into the match, and Speroni was alert to keep out Lewis McGugan's low cross with a minute of normal time to be played.

Five minutes were added on to set up a tense ending, but Parr could have wrapped it up when he found space on the right side of the box and crossed low, but Camp smothered at this near post.

However, Forest grabbed a dramatic equaliser when Sharp got in behind Peter Ramage and sent a shot past Speroni, and as the ball bounced off the foot of the post and along the goalmouth, he was on hand for an easy tap-in.

Palace return to Selhurst Park on New Year's Day when Wolverhampton Wanderers arrive in SE25.

Palace: Speroni, Parr, Moxey, Ramage, Gabbidon, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Moritz (Easter 71), Bolasie (Garvan 84), Zaha (Williams 71), Murray.

Attendance: 23,703 (1,800 Palace fans)

By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

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