These past months have seen Palace and Manchester City become quite familiar with each other at development squad level, with the teams (due to the way the league is organised) facing off no less than four times this season, this of course being the fourth and final fixture between the two.
Palace have come off the better, with two draws and a fine win only last week against the sky blues and this encounter was to prove equally as tight as the previous games. With Alex Wynter captaining, the Eagles included the returning Darcy Blake at centre back alongside young Ryan Inniss, and featured Alex Marrow anchoring the centre of midfield. In the City line-up was a returning-from-injury Micah Richards who started the first 45 as a centre back before being withdrawn at half-time.
It was a bright opening at either end of the pitch as each side looked to get forward. The first attempt of the game fell though to City's Dennis Suarez who put a shot over the bar from a central spot around 15 yards out in the eighth minute.
Another chance came the visitors' way a couple of minutes later. Richards seemed keen to get forward and from a left sided corner Dedryk Boyata nodded the ball back across the box before the big defender turned and spooned the ball over the bar. Lewis Price then made a low save to his right from Pozo La Rosa shortly afterwards and then Brazilian Maicon who was
playing in an advanced right back role with a licence to attack and not defend, blazed a cross straight through the box without a touch from anyone.
In response, Palace were linking up well on the right flank, with Kaikai providing balls for Appiah to run onto, but were finding the away defence holding firm. It was one of these attacks that created a corner for Palace in the 18th minute. Kaikai swung the ball in and it was Darcy Blake who got a flick on the ball from a central spot with his head, the ball nestling in the bottom
left hand corner of the net to give Palace the lead.
The next City response was again through Richards. This time a shot from outside the area by Rusnak hit him and landed at his feet, but he turned and shot tamely and low at Lewis Price. Probably the best chance for the away side to score then came in the 28th minute. Pozo La Rosa's cross from the left held up in the air, and when it came down it was to Marcos Lopes at the far post but he fluffed the chance by firing across goal and past the left hand post.
Appiah meanwhile was still remaining a nuisance at the other end and five minutes later bore down on goal only to see his shot blocked in the box, after fine build up play that saw Daniel feed Wynter's run and cross from the right. There was then a nasty moment where Lopes should have seen yellow. Challenging for a ball near the touchline, he flattened Kai Kai with an outstretched arm, but it went un-punished.
Appiah should then have punished City in a different way on 38 minutes. In the clear breaking down the middle away from the centre backs, his low shot was past the goalkeeper's arm but also just past the right goal post. There was then a scuffle between several players as Richards reacted un-necessarily to a mediocre 50/50 tackle with Dymond. The resultant handbags saw Richards, Dymond and Inniss all receiving yellows.
Just as Palace appeared to have weathered the attacks, City then found an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Suarez beat the Palace defence on the left and found his way into the box where he placed a low ball across the area. Boyata was waiting in a central position, but the ball apppeared to rebound in off Dymond's leg for an equaliser from a couple of yards out and to make it 1-1 at half-time.
Compared to the first half, the second period was a lot quieter. The game continued in the same vein, with City enjoying slightly more forward possession, particularly through Suarez and Rusnak making runs into the area from the left which the Palace defence were dealing with. Palace had probably the clearest opportunity of grabbing a second when, with 55 minutes gone, Alex Wynter received the ball into a central position inside the box, but his shot took a nick off the leg of a defender and went just wide.
City had one clear chance when Poza La Rosa went around Wynter and bore down on goal, but his shot was across the face and wide, and the last chance of the match to note was with 12 minutes left when Appiah had a shot from the right, running onto a ball over the top into the box, but he looped the ball wide of the post.
A decent end to end game ended with a fair result with Palace remaining unbeaten in the four games played against their wealthy opponents. Next up is Stoke City at home (at Tooting and Mitcham FC) next Monday evening.
Palace Team: Price, Wynter (c), Parsons, Dymond, Inniss, Blake, Kaikai, Marrow, Appiah, Sekajja, Daniel
Subs: Aruruka, King, Henry-Francis, Allassani (For Daniel '62), Boateng (For Kaikai '80)