A moment of magic couldn't inspire Crystal Palace Under-23s to come back today in a much worked-for draw with Bristol City as first-team forward Connor Wickham produced a stunning overhead kick to drive his side forward after a relentless assault looked set to yield little.
The game opened with Palace seemingly on top, and first-team defender Scott Dann launched a strong header directly at goal only to see visiting shot-stopper Alhaji Sesay save in equally strong fashion.
Bristol broke minutes later to the other end of the pitch and, after Oliver O'Dwyer brought down their advances, the Robins were awarded a free-kick just yards from the edge of the penalty box. Rory Holden stepped up and netted with confidence on the ninth minute, curling the ball past Oliver Webber in goal to put the Eagles at an early disadvantage.
Richard Shaw's side reacted well, however, and Gio McGregor stormed into the opposition box only to fire his effort at a solid Sesay standing by his near-post. Palace then applied pressure to the visiting Bristol side throughout the half and kept Sesay constantly on his toes.
Levi Lumeka tested the 'keeper's alertness when he managed to dig a shot in his direction, but the Robins' number one was equal to it, and he scooped the effort up calmly.
Wickham maintained Palace's pressure on the visitors, but he too was frustrated to see his efforts result in nothing thanks to the ever-astute Sesay, whose actions kept his side ahead throughout the game's opening exchanges. He was again the man of the moment when Wickham, trying his luck for the second time in 10 minutes, cannoned the ball at the shot-stopper only to have his would-be goal denied by a pair of strong palms.
Bristol's only chance of note following their early opener was a mirror-image of Holden's ninth-minute free-kick, but the midfielder stepped up barely half an hour later only to send his dead-ball over the bar.
Palace's best opportunity to bring themselves level in the half came when Sullay Kaikai wriggled and tricked his way into Bristol's box past an army of legs only to shoot wide when the goal finally opened up for him.
Returning for the second-half, the Eagles threw themselves at the game and created chance after chance in an attempt to notch a mark on the scoreboard. And within just a minute of kick-off, Kirby cracked an effort at goal but was frustrated to see it fly inches wide of the visitor's post.
Minutes later, Lumeka broke into what had been a much-assaulted opposition box but saw his rifled effort matched by Sesay, who opened the half in the same fashion as he had ended the first.
Another tantalisingly close effort arose when Lumeka played in Joel Ward, who crossed to Kaikai before the forward's well-struck attempt was blocked on the line by a resolute defence. Reacting immediately to the loose ball, McGregor then fired at goal but somehow saw his effort blocked on the line as well.
The moment the Eagles had been looking for came when Wickham - who it had become clear would need something special against an impossibly resolute defence - flung himself into the air as the ball floated his way before connecting magnificently with his right boot over his head to open Palace's account.
However, hero would become villain in appropriately dramatic fashion given the grandiose nature of the goal, and Wickham was sent off moments later for a second yellow card in the space of 60 seconds.
From this point, both sides seemed determined to steal all three points from the other and a triple substitution for the visitors shored up their team enough to keep them strongly in contention. However, in spite of their increased advances, the visitors were unable to create any chances of note and it was the Eagles who remained in the ascendancy.
Despite Palace's continued assault, however, the deadlock could not be broken and the Eagles left the pitch with one point that won't feel like a just reward.
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Palace: Webber, Ward, Mitchell, O’Dwyer (Tavares 45), Dann, Lumeka (Baptiste 84), McGregor, Kirby, Wickham, Kaikai, Riedewald.
Subs not used: Hungbo, Luthra, Boateng.
Bristol: Sesay, Turner-Williams, Ali, Parsons, Smith, Harrison, Holden, Hall, McCoulsky, Rees, Gould.
Subs: Conway, Sainsbury, Taylor, Nurse.