Crystal Palace warmed up for next week’s Barclays Premier League opener against Arsenal with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against FC Augsburg in their final friendly of the summer.
The Eagles started slowly in the Bavarian sunshine but came closest to leaving Germany with a victory when Barry Bannan’s free kick hit the post and Dwight Gayle had a goal ruled out for offside – but in the end Tony Pulis’ men had to be content with a goalless draw to round off their summer schedule.
In what was an uninspiring opening quarter of an hour, the hosts enjoyed more of the possession but the Eagles were pressing the ball well and restricted their Bundesliga opponents to two long-distance efforts from Daniel Baier, which never threatened to dirty Julian Speroni’s gloves.
It took 20 minutes for Palace to signal their first real sign of intent as an attacking force, as Joe Ledley, Mile Jedinak, Marouane Chamakh and Yannick Bolasie combined neatly in the middle of the park to create a chance for Fraizer Campbell, who swivelled quickly on the edge of the box only to see his volley charged down.
The summer signing from Cardiff City went closer just two minutes later when his header from Bolasie’s corner forced Marwin Hitz into a routine first save of the match low to his left. But it was Augsburg who twice came within inches of the opening goal just after the half hour mark.
First Paul Verhaegh got forward from right back and found a yard to whip in a beautifully shaped cross towards the edge of the six yard box, where former PSV Eindhoven striker Tim Matavz was lurking to volley just over the crossbar.
Jerome Williams was having a busy afternoon at left back and it was from that flank that the Fuggerstädter threatened again with their very next attack. This time it was Erik Thommy’s turn to whip in the telling delivery for Tobias Werner, who arrived from the opposite wing to head just wide of Speroni’s upright with the Argentine beaten.
Thommy then ambitiously attempted to break the deadlock himself five minutes before the interval, hitting a dipping, Ronaldo-esque free-kick from 30 yards out which Speroni saw safely over his crossbar, as the two sides went into half time with the game goalless.
Wayne Hennessey took Speroni’s place between the sticks for the second 45 in what was Pulis’ only half time change – and he was forced into his first save just three minutes after leaving the bench. Werner, Raul Bobadilla and Marcel de Jong combined well down the Eagles’ right, but the left-back’s strike was beaten away by the Welshman at his near post.
With 56 minutes on the clock, Palace’s number 26 again staked his claim for a starting berth at the Emirates on Saturday with a super stop. The tireless de Jong bombed forward once more to get a cross in from the Augsburg left and when Williams could only prod his clearance away as far as the edge of the D, Bobadilla struck a venomous volley that Hennessey got down well to parry clear from his bottom right-hand corner.
Augsburg were in the ascendancy and Pulis turned to his substitutes in a bid to change the pattern of the game, introducing the attacking trio of Bannan, Gayle and Glenn Murray – and the former pair combined almost instantly as Palace came within inches of breaking the deadlock.
Ledley won possession well in midfield to free Gayle, whose long range effort was beaten clear by Hitz. The former Peterborough man reacted quickest to the loose ball though to earn his team a free kick right in the heart of Bannan territory.
The Scot stepped up from 20 yards and beat the wall with his low curling effort, only to see it cannon off the base of the post as the clock struck 70 minutes.
Palace had the ball in the net three minutes later with the visitors’ substitutes again combining to good effect. This time it was Murray who did well to retrieve an over-hit cross and turn it back across the six yard box where Gayle was lurking to scramble it home at the far post, only to be denied by the offside flag.
Gayle caused problems for the Augsburg back line again with five minutes to go when he latched onto Ledley’s clever dinked ball over the top, but the frontman could not get enough power in his shot to seriously trouble Hitz as the Eagles flew back to south London with a morale-boosting draw.
FC Augsburg: Hitz, Verhaegh (Reinhardt 46), Callsen-Bracker (Framberger 82), Klavan, de Jong (Djurdjic 75), Baier, Thommy (Parker 46), Moravek (Kohr 46), Altintop, Werner (Caiuby 60), Matavz (Bobadilla 46, Molders 75)
Unused subs: Manninger, Fetsch.
Crystal Palace: Speroni (Hennessey 46), Ward, Dann (McCarthy 82), Hangeland, Jerome Williams, Puncheon (Gayle 65), Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie (Bannan 65), Chamakh (Guedioura 72), Campbell (Murray 65).
Unused subs: Mariappa.