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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
05:10 5th May 2013


It was tense, nervy and gripping but this play-off semi-final first leg had everything but a goal as Palace and Brighton played out a  0-0 draw, meaning everything is still in the balance for the return game at the Amex on Monday night.

However Palace will have to reach Wembley without their 31 goal talisman Glenn Murray and Jonny Williams who were forced off with injures in the second half to stretch Ian Holloway's squad to its limit right at the season's end.

Selhurst was packed to the rafters and a rapturous welcome from the 23,294 in attendance greeted the sides as they emerged, and after Palace soaked up some early Brighton pressure Williams saw a shot whiz past the far post from 20 yards as both sides attempted to gain a foothold.

However the visitors were presented with a golden chance to open the scoring after 19 minutes when a Will Buckley cross from the right flank was met by the head of Dean Hammond at point-blank range, but a wonderful reaction stop from Julian Speroni kept the ball out.

After a bright start the quality seemed to seep out of the half as passes were misplaced and niggly fouls crept into the game. Palace could only create a pair of blocked shots from Murray and Kagisho Dikgacoi whereas Brighton's best opening came via a sliced shot from Hammond which inadvertently almost ended up as a perfect cross for the flying Leonardo Ulloa.

In the latter stages the Eagles were denied a strong penalty shout when Murray seemed to be grabbed in the area by a Seagulls defender but both sides went into the break without much to look back on.

The second half began in the same fashion but nine minutes in Wilfried Zaha, making his last Palace appearance at Selhurst, conjured up a wicked cross that zipped straight across the face of goal that missed the boot of Williams by fractions. 

The Eagles cranked up the pressure and after Williams won a free-kick near the corner flag, Owen Garvan's whipped-in delivery was headed goalwards by Danny Gabbidon and Tomasz Kuszczak did brilliantly to claw the ball away and was fortunate to see it not deflect in off Andrea Orlandi.

However Palace were dealt a couple of cruel blows soon after. Murray attempted to spin in the box but twisted his knee in the process and went down in a crumpled heap and was forced off on a stretcher before Williams also limped off, casting their involvement for the rest of the play-offs in major doubt.

Even with two of their most influential players being forced off, Palace responded and when a ball into the box fell into the path of the advancing Dikgacoi he saw his shot cleared off the line and away from danger by Inigo Calderon.

In injury time Yannick Bolasie flashed an audacious attempt just wide of the Seagulls goal but neither side could find the goal that would give them an advantage in three day's time and they'll kick-off on the south coast all square.

Palace: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Williams (Bolasie 74), Zaha, Garvan (Phillips 86), Murray (Wilbraham 66). Subs not used: Price, Ramage, O'Keefe, Moritz.

Brighton: Kuszczak, Calderon, Greer, Upson, Bridge, Hammond, Bridcutt, Orlandi (Barnes 86), Lopez, Buckley (LuaLua 73), Ulloa. Subs not used: Ankergren, El Abd, Vicente, Painter, Crofts