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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
22:39 17th January 2017


Christian Benteke came off the bench to rescue Crystal Palace and send them into the fourth round of the FA Cup as they finally saw off Bolton Wanderers in this replay.

The Trotters had threatened a cup upset when they took an early second half lead through James Henry, but after his introduction with a little under 30 minutes to go, the Eagles’ top scorer showed his class by scoring twice to turn things around, and give Sam Allardyce his first win as manager.

Having given Palace plenty of scares at the Macron Stadium 10 days earlier, Bolton continued in that vein and went close after just 11 minutes when Josh Vela’s shot with the outside of his foot whistled past Julian Speroni’s far post, and after Palace had a spell pressing hard in the final third, a corner from Jay Spearing found its way to David Wheater but the defender fired over.

However that was as troubled as the Eagles were in the first half and Allardyce’s men began to turn the screw. Making his first start for the Eagles, Sullay Kaikai showed his free-kick prowess when he was fouled on the edge of the box, and fired the set-piece goalwards but it fizzed fractions wide, and then Palace thought they had taken the lead when Kaikai’s corner was dispatched into the net at the front post by Joe Ledley, but it was via his hand and the goal was correctly ruled out.

The hosts kept pressing towards the end of the first half and Andros Townsend had a couple of attempts on goal but shot straight at Ben Alnwick before then blasting the ball into the Whitehorse Lane as a quiet 45 minutes came to an end.

However three minutes into the second half, the Trotter snatched the lead. After winning a free-kick just inside the Palace half, Jay Spearing lofted it into the area where it was kept in play by the head of Gary Madine, who nodded it back to Henry on the edge of the area, and his first-time chip went over Speroni and into the top corner to send the travelling Trotters fans into raptures.

The Eagles response saw Chung-yong Lee drag the ball wide from distance, but after Allardyce had made a triple change, one of his replacements would come up trumps on 68 minutes. Mathieu Flamini got down the right and put a teasing cross into the area, where Benteke was waiting to dominate in the air and thump a header past Alnwick to level the scores.

Parity was nearly lost just a couple of minutes later when Vela screwed a volley wide after another knock-down by Madine, and that would prove costly as soon after Benteke would once again show his class as he scored a second within 15 minutes of entering the fray.

Townsend got past Lawrie Wilson down the left flank and nipped past the full-back to tee up the Belgian striker, who killed the ball in the air before swivelling and firing past Alnwick to turn the game on its head.

Wilson nearly made amends with 10 minutes to play when he sped down the right and sent in a low delivery that was begging to be dispatched, but Zack Clough could only steer the golden opportunity wide which would prove to be their last of the encounter and ensured it was Palace who will host Manchester City in the fourth round next week.

Palace: Speroni, Ward, Kelly, Delaney (Tomkins 62), Fryers, Lee, Flamini, Ledley (Puncheon 62), Townsend, Kaikai, Remy (C. Benteke 62). Subs not used: Hennessey, Phillips, Cabaye, Husin.

Bolton: Alnwick, Wilson, Wheater, Beevers, A. Taylor, Thorpe, Spearing, Henry (C. Taylor 88), Vela, Clough (Clayton 88), Madine (Proctor 77). Subs not used: Turner, Moxey, Derik, Trotter.