Sunderland 0 Crystal Palace 0

Last updated : 30 January 2007 By Footymad Previewer
Sunderland missed the chance to move into a Championship play-off place after being held to a goalless draw by a well-organised and disciplined Crystal Palace at the Stadium of Light.

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex attended the match to officially mark the fifth anniversary of the Sunderland Foundation, the official charity of the club, but there was no Royal performance from either side.

With Sunderland winning their last three league matches and Palace unbeaten in their last six league outings, a stalemate came as no surprise with the home side unable to break down a Palace team becoming more difficult to beat under the guidance of Peter Taylor.

The former England Under-21 manager believes his side is capable of reaching the play-offs and few could argue after taking a deserved point from Roy Keane who has been actively involved in the transfer window.

Sunderland's bright start was almost rewarded in the seventh minute, only a goal-line clearance by Mark Hudson keeping out a powerful shot from David Connolly following good work on the left by Dwight Yorke.

Palace hit back and a flowing move involving Shefki Kuqi, Jobi McAnuf and Stuart Green was worthy of the breakthrough, goalkeeper Darren Ward turning Green's close-range effort around the post with a spectacular one-handed save.

Palace goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly also produced a one-handed save to deny on-loan Manchester United defender Jonny Evans a first goal for the Black Cats, saving the youngster's header from Tobi Hysen's free-kick and watching anxiously as Yorke fired the rebound over the bar.

Kiraly was almost deceived by an inswinging Liam Miller corner, punching off the line when appeared to be unsighted and then saving well from a low drive by Anthony Stokes as the home side piled on the pressure.

Mark Kennedy's free-kick was met with a firm header by Leon Cort but Ward was equal to the occasion with a comfortable save but it was nearer still on the hour when Evans misjudged the bounce of the ball to leave Kuqi in the clear. Nyron Nosworthy however did enough to avert the danger.

Cort again got up well unchallenged to a Kennedy corner but was unable to direct his header on target as Palace continued to threaten on the break.

Keane hauled off the disappointing Carlos Edwards in the 66th minute in favour of Grant Leadbitter and six minutes later Hysen gave way for Ross Wallace in a bid to regain the initiative.

Palace brought on Tom Soares and Dougie Freedman to replace Paul Ilfill and Green respectively and when Miller limped off, Daryl Murphy came on in the last throw of the dice for the home side.

Leadbitter almost snatched a late winner for the home side, his well-struck shot after a corner had been only partially cleared, being well saved by Kiraly.