Ambrose Denies Rams
Attendance: 14, 686
A late penalty from Darren Ambrose salvaged a point for Crystal Palace as they played out a 2-2 draw with Derby County at Selhurst Park. A rare Stephen Pearson goal had given The Rams the lead inside the first seven minutes only for Dean Moxey to equalise with a sweetly struck volley from the edge of the area on twenty-one minutes. Frank Fielding, in his last game in his second loan spell, was on top form to keep out two long range efforts from Darren Ambrose and Derby retook the lead just after the hour when Jamie Ward crashed home from twenty-five yards to give Speroni no chance. Palace made changes up front and threw everything at Derby with substitute Theo Robinson nearly punishing them on the break but he volleyed Paul Green`s cross wide of the post. With two minutes on the clock Green then brought down Neil Danns in the area and Ambrose fired home the spot kick to leave the game all square with both sides having to settle for a point.
Nigel Clough named the same side that tasted victory against Swansea last time out, the first time he had named an unchanged side this calendar year, with Frank Fielding starting the final game of his loan spell from Blackburn and a return for James Bailey on the bench after recent injury problems. Dean Moxey lined-up against his former club after his January move and there were also places for ex-Rams` in the form of Claude Davis, James Vaughan and a place on the bench for Lewis Price.
The home side started brightly applying the pressure and Fielding had to be on his toes to dive at the feet of Vaughan to block the striker`s effort on five minutes and Shaun Barker cleared the rebound off the line when it fell to Steffen Iversen. The Rams then took the lead with their first real effort of the match when Anthony Gardener lost possession to Alberto Bueno and he weaved his way into the area before playing a neat ball into the path of Stephen Pearson who calmly slotted past Julian Speroni. Darren Ambrose nearly equalised on Palace`s next attack when his shot from 25-yards looked destined for the net but Fielding reacted well to deny the midfielder. Palace did find an equaliser on twenty-one minutes and inevitably it was Moxey who scored against his old teammates, a clearance fell to the leftback on the edge of the area and he lashed a volley beyond Fielding into the corner of the net to level the scores.
Palace had their tails up and were enjoying a spell of pressure with Fielding being called into action again to keep out a Claude Davis header and then another long range strike from Ambrose on the half-hour mark but the young keeper was equal to them both. Gareth Roberts cleared off the line from a Neil Danns effort moments later and The Rams began clawing their way back into the match looking sharp on the break but they were unable to test Speroni in the closing stages as the sides went in all square at the break.
Moxey had the first effort of the second period with another shot from distance but Fielding was again able to keep it out and although the game was evening out there weren`t the chances created in the first half. Derby retook the leader just after the hour mark when Roberts found Jamie Ward and the striker thundered an effort beyond the reach of Speroni from twenty-five yards. Palace made changes up front to try and find a way back into the match with Pablo Counago and Wilfried Zaha being brought on from the bench.
Gardener headed a freekick wide with fifteen minutes to play as his side threw men forward in search of the equaliser and Theo Robinson, on for Bueno, nearly capitalised on the break but he volleyed Paul Green`s cross wide of the mark with five minutes to go. The Republic of Ireland midfielder was involved again in the decisive moment of the closing stages when he tripped Danns inside the area and the referee was left with no choice but to point to the sport. Up stepped Ambrose to fire the penalty past Fielding to level the scores with eighty-eight minutes showing on the clock. Ward nearly snatched a late winner for The Rams but his deflected freekick was held by Speroni and they had to settle for a point that kept the distance between themselves and the bottom three at nine points.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Clyne, Wright (Zaha 71), Davis, Ambrose, Danns, Iversen (Counago 66), Vaughan (Easter 54), Moxey, Gardner, Dikgacoi
Subs: Price, Garvan, Scannell, Agustien.
Derby County: Fielding, Brayford, Barker, Ayala, Roberts, Green, Pearson (Bailey 90), Savage, Ward, Bueno (Robinson 64), S Davies (Addison 77).
Subs: Duke, Doyle, B Davies, Boulding.