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Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Palace: Eagles hit by Lita sucker punch after second half domination

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CRYSTAL Palace suffered a 1-0 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday thanks to a late goal from Leroy Lita this afternoon.

Despite dominating the second half with possession and chances, the Eagles were hit by a sucker punch by the on-loan Swansea City striker, who headed past Julian Speroni.

The result means Palace have now not won away since November at Peterborough United.

The hosts started the better as Lewis Buxton had the first effort of the afternoon with a free-kick but sent it over Julian Speroni's crossbar.

Then David Prutton sent an effort over from 25-yards out after a receiving a pass from Giles Coke, while Leroy Lita went close after getting in behind Eagles defensive duo Peter Ramage and Damien Delaney.

The Owls cranked up the pressure on Palace after 12 minutes when Coke had a shot blocked, before the ball came back into the box to Lita who went down quite easily under a challenge, but it ended up with Miguel Llera heading wide after Speroni clawed the ball away from goal.

Lita then saw a header saved by Speroni, who needed a second go to gather, while the striker was then flagged offside following Connor Wickham's flick-on.

Palace would have been wanting half-time break to re-assess their options, with the Owls having the better of the play and chances.

But good work by Kagisho Dikgacoi just after the half-hour mark saw the midfielder thread the ball towards Glenn Murray, but he couldn't quite reach the ball.

Back came Wednesday, who then saw Lee have a shot blocked inside the box, while Dikgacoi nearly got away down the middle only for Anthony Gardner to put in a good tackle.

Stephen Dobbie went closest for the Eagles in the first period when he had two efforts from the edge of the box blocked in succession, before Wednesday midfielder David Prutton and the referee collided in the middle of the park with the latter receiving treatment for a bloody nose.

Into the second half and it was a much better start from Palace. Yannick Bolasie won a corner early on after good work down the flank, while Murray was very close to giving the Palace the lead at the far post from Dobbie's cross, but he couldn't quite connect.

Then Dikgacoi let fly from 25-yards with Kirkland rooted to the ground, but luckily for him it flashed just wide.

Murray thought he was going to add to his goal tally but he was stopped by Llera with a last-ditch tackle, while at the other end Damien Delaney put in a great tackle of his own on Wednesday substitute Gary Madine.

Kevin Phillips came on for Jonathan Williams with 25 minutes remaining, but Palace were a whisker away from taking a deserved lead when Bolasie forced a great stop from Kirkland following a quick breakaway, while the winger was at the heart of another chance moments later but his ball was just a bit too much for Murray to reach.

It was all Palace but they just couldn't find the breakthrough. And they could have been in again only for former Eagle Anthony Gardner to stick out a hand to deny a way through, from which he received a booking.

However, against the run of play, Wednesday took the lead with their first chance of the second half on 81 minutes when Lita headed home.

The Eagles were stunned after dominating the second period and manager Ian Holloway sent on Aaron Wilbraham and Jacob Butterfield in a bid to salvage a point.

Lita had a chance to grab his second in the first minute of added-on time when Jedinak lost the ball down the middle, but Speroni saved superbly with his feet.

Despite a couple of balls pumped into the Wednesday box late on, Palace couldn't find the back of the net.

Next up is Derby County at Pride Park next Friday night.

Palace: Speroni, Richards, Parr (Butterfield 88), Ramage, Delaney, Dikgacoi, Dobbie (Wilbraham 88), Jedinak, Williams (Phillips 69), Bolasie, Murray.

Subs Not Used: Price, Moxey, Marrow, Easter.

Attendance: 23,475


By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

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