Crystal Palace 0-0 Bolton Wanderers: Eagles held to goalless draw on Freedman's return
CRYSTAL Palace were held to a goalless draw against Bolton Wanderers on Dougie Freedman's return to Selhurst Park on Saturday.
In a game that failed to impress in spells, Palace certainly deserved the three points based on a strong second half performance with efforts from Glenn Murray, Wilfried Zaha and Alex Marrow going particularly close.
And before kick-off, Freedman's reception wasn't as frosty as some may have expected, and the former boss clapped both the Holmesdale and Main Stands.
Chris Eagles had the first chance of the game after just 15 seconds when he burst through the middle of the park and shot inches wide with Julian Speroni scrambling across.
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It took until the midway point of the half for the next chance of a slow match, and it was through Eagles again, who was allowed time and space to curl an affort towards the bottom corner, but Speroni got across to parry the ball away.
The visitors had the next chance of the game on the half-hour mark when Eagles fed the overlapping Tyrone Mears down the right and the full-back delivered a great cross for Darren Pratley, but the unmarked midfielder glanced a header well wide.
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Dean Moxey went into the referee's book for cutting Eagles down to size shortly after, and the Bolton playmaker was furious and squared up to the left-back.
However, Keith Andrews received a booking when he pulled back Zaha down the left when it looked as if the winger was about to hit fifth gear. And then Glenn Murray found the back of the net, only to be flagged offside after Yannick Bolasie's fierce shot on the edge of the box was parried by Adam Bogdan.
Meanwhile, Eagles had the last chance of the half with a tame effort that Speroni gathered with ease.
And the former Manchester United player had the first chance of the second period when he shot wide from distance.
Andre Moritz came on for the ineffective Nimely after 52 minutes, while Zaha continued to look bright down right with Jonathan Parr supporting.
Eagles continued to be the visitors' main threat and sent a fierce drive wide from the left side of the box, while up the other end, Bolasie powered down the left and sent a low ball into the danger area, but Murray couldn't quite convert from 12 yards.
Palace were so unlucky not to take the lead midway through the half when Zaha hit the foot of the post from just inside the box, and from the follow-up, Moritz sent a shot inches wide of the far post. To be fair, it was a tight angle to hit first time on the volley.
Keith Andrews was lucky not receive a second booking soon after when it looked like he had pushed Zaha in his face and off the ball, but he got a talking-to from the man in the middle instead, and from the free-kick, Damien Delaney got a slight touch on the ball but Bolton managed to clear.
Then Kevin Davies powered a header straight at Speroni, and from the build-up, Zaha raced down the right and beat Alonso before cutting the ball back to Murray, who hit a first time shot inches wide - and you would have backed him to score as well.
Alex Marrow and Jonathan Williams came on two minutes apart from each other as the half continued, while Zaha was a constant thorn to Alonso down the right with breath-taking skills.
And the winger nearly won it for the Eagles towards the end when he cut inside from the left and curled an effort inches past the far post in front of the Holmesdale, while Marrow had a goal-bound effort well saved by Bogdan inside the box.
But it proved to be the final piece of action with both sides settling for a point.
Palace: Speroni, Parr, Moxey, Ramage (Marrow 73), Delaney, Butterfield (Williams 75), Jedinak (c), Bolasie, Zaha, Nimely (Moritz 52), Murray.
Subs Not Used: Price, O'Keefe, Wilbraham, Easter.
By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson