Crystal Palace 0 Stoke City 0: FA Cup third round match report
Martin Spinks saw Stoke City held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
THOMAS Sorensen's return to Stoke's line-up overshadowed Michael Owen's first start for the club during today's stalemate here in South London.
Sorensen was much the busier of the two keepers during an afternoon of few heart-stopping moments in front of either goal.
Stoke succeeded in largely subduing Palace's flying wingers this afternoon and that went a long way towards securing a second crack at Palace.
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That comes in the replay at the Britannia a week on Tuesday.
Stoke, with Owen one of half-a-dozen changes today, were quickly indebted to another of those changes as Sorensen clawed away an early effort from Jermaine Easter.
Owen's first real contribution came in a congested Palace goalmouth after Crouch was wide of the mark with his first attempt on goal.
And when Michael Kightly lobbed into the mix for a second time it was Owen flicking on for Crouch to miss again from right in front of goal.
Palace, with leading scorer Glenn Murray one of four omissions from their last line up, were acquitting themselves well but could have been down to 10 men when Stuart O'Keefe escaped with a booking after taking out Jon Walters on half-way.
The resulting free-kick suggested it really wasn't going to be Crouch's day after he planted a free header comfortably over from Ryan Shotton's right-wing cross.
Palace then threatened from a left-wing freek-kick when Sorensen's acrobatic punch fell to O'Keefe, but his shot was superbly charged down by Geoff Cameron/
The home side pressured again just right of the Stoke goal when Andre Moritz curled a cute effort beyond both Sorensen and the Dane's far post.
Ian Holloway's men certainly weren't paling by comparison to their Premier League visitors in the first half and the much-touted Wilfried Zaha finally imposed himself on the game with a powerful run and shot which left Sorensen touching over superbly.
The Palace boss was then going ape on the touchline after Zaha was left writhing around after claiming to be caught late by Shotton following his low cross from the left by-line just before the break.
Half-time: Palace 0, Stoke 0.
Zaha was still hobbling during a sedate start to the second period.
Stoke limbered up for the first time in front of goal after the interval when Crouch laid off deftly for Kightly to control before firing over with his weaker left foot.
But it was Palace guilty of a much bigger miss at the other end as Yannick Bolasie teed up Moritz for a truly awful shank over the bar from 15 yards.
Owen was replaced by Charlie Adam eight minutes into the second period before Palace surged forward again through Bolasie's low drive saved by Sorensen.
Cameron Jerome announced his arrival for Kightly by bringing a first save out of Palace keeper Lewis Price with a shot that might have caused problems a couple of yards either side.
A goal was hardly beckoning as we entered the final quarter still waiting to see the best of the visitors.
A little period of sustained Stoke pressure saw Robert Huth failed to get over a header from a left-wing corner - then drill a shot into a defender from a right-wing corner.
But Stoke were suddenly in trouble when Sorensen's scuffed kick was mis-controlled by Dean Whitehead - amid shouts for a foul - to leave Palace breaking and sub Jason Banton skewing wide of the near post with a shot on the run.
The latter stages remained scrappy and there was little prospect of a late breakthrough for either side.
Palace: Price, Parr, Moxey, Delaney, Ramage, Zaha (Williams,55), Jedinak, O'Keefe, Moritz, Bolasie (Banton,68), Easter (Appiah,65). Subs: Fitzsimons, Parsons, Wynter, Taylor.
Stoke: Sorensen, Shotton, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Walters, Nzonzi, Whitehead, Kightly (Jerome,54), Owen (Adam,53), Crouch (Jones,73). Subs: Nash, Upson, Etherington, Wilkinson.
Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancs).
Cards: Palace - O'Keefe (foul,20), Banton (dissent,85). Stoke - Walters (foul,31).