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Aston Villa 0–0 Crystal Palace: Eagles pick up solid point in front of Alan Pardew

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CRYSTAL Palace picked up another point on the road this afternoon at Aston Villa in a goalless draw in front of the watching Alan Pardew.

The manager is set to be appointed at the Palace helm imminently, taking his seat with the Palace board before kick-off.

It wasn't the greatest of contests in the west Midlands, with both sides lacking a finishing touch and the home fans in particular frustrated.

Christian Benteke forced Julian Speroni into an early save at his near post, before Gabriel Agbonlahor sent a looping header over.

Palace got into their stride after several minutes and nearly went ahead when Wilfried Zaha held the ball up well, found Joe Ledley unmarked before Brad Guzan pulled off a decent save to deny the Welshman.

The Eagles were desperately unlucky moments later when Yannick Bolasie burst through the middle with pace to beat the Villa defence, and with Guzan racing out, the winger lifted the ball over the custodian only to see the ball strike the crossbar and away.

Palace had Speroni to thank when he pulled off a wonderful save after a mistake at the back.

Carlos Sanchez got the better of Adrian Mariappa on the left before his ball in fell to Alan Hutton at the back post, but Speroni raced across to produce a brilliant one-handed stop.

Leandro Bacuna had Speroni worried on 27 minutes when his free-kick was curled over the Palace wall with pace, but thankfully the ball went inches over and on top of the net.

Up the other end and James McArthur felt he should have been given a penalty after a challenge from Villa centre-back Jores Okore, but referee Robert Madley was having none of it.

Zaha was close to connecting with a decent low delivery from the left, before the ball came back out to Bolasie, who went for goal from range but it curled over.

It wasn't the best of first periods, evident by the lack of firepower from both sides.

Jason Puncheon opened up his body well at the start of the second half to get a shot on goal but was well blocked, before Benteke connected with a corner but saw the ball go wide.

The chances were extremely limited, but the game came to life around the hour-mark following Dwight Gayle's introduction for Zaha.

McArthur had a chance in the box but his first touch was too heavy, and following a corner, Joel Ward had a storming effort superbly blocked from the edge of the box.

With a dozen or so minutes to go, both teams continued to struggle going forward. It was another steely performance from Palace, yet they just lacked that edge in the final third.

If only Bolasie's big chance had gone in from the first half.

Speroni had to be at his best again with four minutes remaining when he beat away Bacuna's swerving free-kick, before Barry Bannan came on against his former club in the 90th-minute.

Next up for Palace is an FA Cup tie at in-form Dover Athletic on Sunday.

Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Kelly, Dann, Delaney (c), McArthur (Bannan 89), Ward, Ledley, Puncheon, Bolasie, Zaha (Gayle 62).

Subs Not Used: Hennessey, Hangeland, Thomas, Doyle, Campbell.

Referee: Robert Madley

Attendance: 29,047

By Mark Ritson, at Villa Park

Aston Villa 0–0 Crystal Palace: Eagles pick up solid point in front of Alan Pardew


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