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Crystal Palace won a vital point in their bid to escape the bottom two of the Southern Division on Wednesday night at Whyteleafe with an equaliser in the fourth minute of stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw with West Ham Utd.
The goal was a beauty from Kenny Ogunneye who latched on to Paris Smith's clearance and, from fully 35 yards, delivered a precise lob which just evaded the retreating West Ham keeper's dive.
It was a disappointing end for a West Ham team which had led for most of the game and had chances to make the game safe but reward for a spirited display by Palace. Leading scorer Sam Pittuck had given the Hammers the lead with a curling 25-yard free kick in the 15th minute and they dominated the first half with neat passing movements with Katie Holmes in particular controlling the play. Palace defended well with Sharna Longville outstanding at centre back and keeper Sam Sharp made an excellent block when faced with a forward five yards from goal. Palace were restricted to one Beth Curtis chance right on half time which was well saved by Smith.
The South Londoners were much sharper after the break and pushed West Ham back with substitute Ogunneye a real handful and Curtis delivering a number of dangerous corners. However West Ham were dangerous on the break with Pittuck twice being denied by Sharp.
Palace increased the pressure, winning many corners and free kicks in dangerous areas but just could not find the final touch and the young Hammers defence, where Jade Dempster in particular had a fine game, seemed to have held firm. A goal line clearance from right back Ruby Southgate seemed to have secured the points until the dramatic finale.
Palace have no less than nine more games to play and if they show the same spirit as in this match they should get the points they need. West Ham will be cursing their inability to finish off this match but they play the game in the entertaining manner associated with their parent club and should finish high up in the table.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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