English Premiership

Pardew watches Palace draw

2015-01-01 21:40
Alan Pardew (Supplied)
Alan Pardew (Supplied)

Birmingham - Crystal Palace's prospective new manager Alan Pardew was watching from the stands as the struggling Eagles ground out a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa on Thursday.

Pardew is set to be appointed as Palace's new boss following Neil Warnock's sacking last weekend and the 53-year-old was at Villa Park to see the Premier League side show their fighting spirit in a dour encounter.

The south Londoners have agreed a compensation package with Newcastle for their former midfielder and, on this evidence, if Pardew is hired in the next few days, he will take over a determined team capable of climbing out of the relegation zone despite their eighth successive match without a win.

Palace caretaker boss Keith Millen made one change from the goalless draw at QPR, with Martin Kelly coming in for midfielder Mile Jedinak who has joined the Australia squad for the Asian Cup.

But although Palace had Pardew to impress, it was Villa who made the brighter start.

Christian Benteke was teed up by Andreas Weimann but the Belgian striker's angled shot was saved at the near post by Julian Speroni.

Paul Lambert's side threatened again when Alan Hutton's whipped cross was turned over the crossbar by Gabriel Agbonlahor and moments later Hutton tested Speroni with a close-range effort.

Villa lost centre-back Ron Vlaar to an early injury and Palace should have capitalised on the subsequent confusion in the hosts' defence when his replacement Ciaran Clark allowed Yannick Bolasie to sprinted unchecked half the length of the field, only for the winger to smash his shot against the crossbar with just Brad Guzan to beat.

Leandro Bacuna's fierce long-range free-kick landed on the roof of Speroni's net as Villa pressed for the opening goal.

Villa were on top for much of the second half, but found Palace's well organised rearguard impossible to breach.

Benteke rose highest to head a corner just wide, then the Belgian, well placed inside the penalty area, met a Carlos Sanchez cross with a wild shot that cleared the bar.

Bacuna bent a right-footed free-kick over the wall in the closing stages, but Speroni got across to palm it away for a corner as Pardew breathed a sigh of relief high in the stands.


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