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Watford 2-2 Palace: Super Kevin Phillips rescues point for Palace

CRYSTAL Palace fought back from two goals down to grab a point away Watford this evening.

Kevin Phillips came off the bench to make a big difference to Palace's attacking play and equalised with an easy finish after Peter Ramage had reduced the deficit minutes before from a corner.

It was a game of two halves again just like against Charlton last Saturday, but this time the Eagles had to settle for a point.

Watford had the first effort of the match when Almen Abdi forced Julian Speroni into a good low save after just three minutes. And from the corner, Matej Vydra ended up scooping the ball high and wide.

However, Abdi did the find the back of the net minutes later when he cut in from the left along the egde of the box and curled a low shot past Speroni to give the hosts the lead.

Stephen Dobbie almost immediately equalised when he shot from the edge of the box at the other end, but Manuel Almunia tipped the ball around the post.

But Gianfranco Zola's team had started the brighter and they grabbed their second of the match thanks to Chelsea loan player Nathaniel Chalobah, who headed into an empty net after Marco Cassetti's shot bounced down into the ground and up towards the far post.

Palace and their fantastic following in the away end were shellshocked, but the supporters kept on singing in hope of their side getting a goal back.

But the Hornets kept playing the better football on an immaculate playing surface and nearly scored a third when a dangerous ball across the box caused confusion for the Palace defence, but luckily it was cleared away before Vydra could pounce.

And the in-form Czech striker nearly made it number three when a fantastic ball in from Marco Cassetti found his head six-yards from goal but glanced it just wide.

Palace did get some chances of their own when Glenn Murray forced Almunia into a good save, and from the resulting corner, the striker headed over.

Dobbie then got on the end of a good Palace move on the edge of the box and hit the side-netting with an effort, before Alex Marrow went into the book for a foul on Chalobah.

Zaha and Dobbie nearly combined for a goal back after 42 minutes, but the ball was hacked clear. And when it came back into play, Dobbie curled an effort towards goal but Almunia held comfortably.

Jonathan Williams replaced Alex Marrow at the break and Palace looked a lot better on the ball with Watford pinned back in their own half.

Kevin Phillips then came on for Yannick Bolasie and the veteran striker looked bright with some neat touches. And he had a good chance to get a goal back when Zaha played a ball into his path but his shot was easily held by Almunia.

The Eagles looked a lot better and Murray had a chance to reduce the deficit after a good break involving Zaha and Dobbie, but the top goalscorer couldn't get enough power on the ball from Zaha's delivery.

But Ian Holloway's side deservedly got a goal back when Peter Ramage forced the ball home from close range following a corner. Game on.

And just moments later, they found the equaliser in dramatic fashion. Jazz Richards motored down the right and sent in a delightful cross towards the far post, and the one man you'd want to finish was on hand to pounce - Kevin Phillips.

The away end went crazy, the odd smoke bomb went off, and all of a sudden Palace looked the more likely to win the game.

Damien Delaney then hit the side-netting after good work from Zaha on the right, while Murray received a booking for a late foul.

And Jacob Butterfield came on for the hard-working Dobbie after 85 minutes. The second-half had been so one-sided, Watford's only effort on goal was that of Troy Deeney's, who found the back of the net but was flagged for offside.

Ramage nealy grabbed the winner in the first of four added-on minutes with a header from Butterfield's free-kick, but Almunia held on well.

But they had to settle for a point in the end, which Holloway and his side would have taken at the break two goals down.

Palace: Speroni, Richards, Moxey, Ramage, Delaney, Marrow (Williams 46), Dikgacoi, Bolasie (Phillips 54), Zaha, Dobbie (Butterfield 85), Murray.

Subs Not Used: Price, Parr, O'Keefe, Wilbraham.

Attendance: 15,079 (2,217 Palace fans)

By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

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