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Match Reports

Pre-Season Report: Columbus Crew 2-2 Crystal Palace

24 July 2014

Crystal Palace were held to a 2-2 draw by Columbus Crew in what was an entertaining start to the club’s American tour. 

Goals from Glenn Murray and Jake Gray either side of half time had put the Eagles 2-1 up, having previously fallen behind to an early Adam Bedell header.

But a late equaliser from Daniel Paladini denied Tony Pulis' men victory as they opened their three-game Stateside schedule with a stalemate in Ohio.  

With the Major League Soccer outfit in the middle of a run of four games in 11 days, former Palace defender Gregg Berhalter made seven changes to his Columbus side, meaning there was no place in the matchday squad for the likes of Giancarlo Gonzalez, Bernardo Anor and Federico Higuain, brother of Napoli striker, Gonzalo.

But despite shuffling his pack it was Berhalter’s charges who settled the better, enjoying much of the possession in the early stages – and they came within inches of scoring the opening goal 11 minutes in.

Palace failed to clear a well-worked free kick and when Justin Meram gave Waylon Francis a chance to cross, Agustin Viana’s header cannoned back off the inside of the post before Julian Speroni bravely pounced on the loose ball. 

That served as a warning shot but the Eagles failed to learn their lesson and just minutes later they found themselves behind. This time it was a cross from the Columbus right that caused the danger as centre-back Eric Gehrig was afforded time to whip in a beautifully shaped delivery, which was emphatically headed home by 6ft 7in striker Bedell to Speroni’s left. 

With only an off-target Jason Puncheon header to show for their early efforts, Palace woke from their slumber mid-way through the first half and after Yannick Bolasie’s cross was only partially headed clear by Justin Meram, the stretching Dwight Gayle could not keep his half-volley down.      

On 32 minutes though it was the hosts who twice came close to doubling their advantage. After a neat period of possession, Meram’s cross eventually found its way to the overlapping right-back Chad Barson whose well-struck volley was charged down by Jerome Williams, before Viana’s arrowing shot from distance fizzed just over the crossbar.

Just four minutes later though, the Eagles had lift-off. Jerome Williams and Bolasie linked up well on the left and the latter cut back onto his stronger right foot to deliver a peach of a cross for Glenn Murray, who glanced a perfectly-placed header into the far corner to net his third goal in two pre-season games and draw the tourists level.  

It nearly got even better for Pulis’ side right on the stroke of half time when some good interplay between Mile Jedinak, Jerome Williams, Puncheon and Joe Ledley saw the ball worked wide to Bolasie. The Eagles winger cut inside Barson and hit a powerful curling shot that only missed the top corner of Matt Lampson’s goal by a yard. 

In contrast to the 11 half-time substitutions he made against GAK Graz in Austria last week, Pulis waited until five minutes into the second half before ringing his first changes, but by the hour mark Scott Dann was the solitary member of the starting line-up remaining on the field of play.

And it was the former Blackburn Rovers centre-back who was unlucky not to put Palace in front on 65 minutes. Lampson flapped at Jonny Williams in-swinging corner from the left and the loose ball came the way of Dann, who looped a header towards the unguarded net only to see Ben Speas head it off the line.  

But merely five minutes later, the Eagles got the second goal they had been threatening. Barry Bannan found space just inside his own half and played a raking diagonal pass into Jonny Williams on the left flank. The academy graduate brought the ball down well and swung a menacing ball into the box which was headed against the post by Marouane Chamakh, before Jake Gray beat Tyson Wahl to the rebound inside the six yard box to tap home.  

Welsh winger Williams then had to be replaced with a thigh problem, before the Crew came close to an instantaneous reply when Paladini’s venomous free-kick was beaten away by Wayne Hennessey – but it was the home side’s number 11 who went one better with 10 minutes to go as he put Columbus back on level terms.

Just as with the night’s previous three goals, it was the method of cross and header that reaped the rewards, as Viana swung over a superb delivery for Paladini, who gave Hennessey no chance with his header.

Neither side looked content with a share of the spoils, but it was Palace who came closest to finding a late winner. Bannan’s 86th-minute free-kick picked out the unmarked Dann at the back post and his prodded half-volley was kept out by the flying Lampson as the Crew hung on to deny the Eagles a winning start to their American adventure.  

Columbus Crew: Lampson, Barson (Friedman 46), Gehrig (Wiet 77), Parkhurst (Wahl 46), Francis (Sweat 46), Viana, Trapp (George 46), Paladini, Speas (Walker 67), Meram, Bedell (Schoenfeld 46). 

Crystal Palace: Speroni (Hennessey 46), Ward (Mariappa 51), Dann, Delaney (Ramage 57), Jerome Williams (Boateng 57), Puncheon (Gray 60), Jedinak (O’Keefe 51), Ledley (Bannan 57), Bolasie (Jonny Williams 60, Ledley 73), Murray (Chamakh 51), Gayle (Guedioura 60). 

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