Stoke City 1 Crystal Palace 0: Allen denies improved Eagles

By Tom Webber 11 February 2017
Stoke City 1 Crystal Palace 0: Allen denies improved Eagles

Crystal Palace failed to steal a march on their relegation rivals as Joe Allen earned Stoke City a hard-fought 1-0 victory at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

With Hull City and Sunderland suffering defeats against Arsenal and Southampton respectively, Palace had an opportunity to move out of the drop zone with a win, but Allen's career-best sixth Premier League goal of the season denied them a point and leaves the Eagles 19th.

Despite being without injured captain Scott Dann and having switched to a back four, Palace showed greater resilience than they did in crumbling to a 4-0 loss at home to Sunderland last time out.

However, they lacked an attacking threat and were undone by a cool finish from the Wales international in the 67th minute.

Allen was assisted by the returning Ramadan Sobhi, who replaced Ibrahim Afellay on the left-hand side of attack and was impressive on his return from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Egypt.

Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant was never really tested by Sam Allardyce's side, while Andros Townsend produced a goal-line clearance to stop Bruno Martins Indi opening the scoring in the first half.

Victory sends Stoke into the top half, but Allardyce will surely be pleased with an improved showing ahead of an important meeting with fellow strugglers Middlesbrough next weekend.

Stoke had an early chance when Peter Crouch headed a long pass into the path of Marko Arnautovic, whose thumping shot from 20 yards was parried aside by Wayne Hennessey.

Palace responded with a neat move down the left that started with Wilfred Zaha and ended when James McArthur sent a header wide from Townsend's delivery.

Patrick van Aanholt was comfortably denied by Lee Grant, before Ramadan beat Joel Ward on the left and floated a cross to the back post which Allen nodded over.

Stoke continued to push and Crouch exposed an idle Palace defence when he darted to the near post to meet Allen's cross, but was unable to get a meaningful touch to take it away from Hennessey.

Allardyce then had Townsend to thank for getting his side to half-time with the scores level. The winger was in the right place to clear a header from the unmarked Martins Indi off the line.

Palace remained solid after the restart and Stoke lost Phil Bardsley to injury in the 58th minute, Glen Johnson replacing him.

Stoke finally broke the visitors' resistance, though. Ramadan latched on to Arnautovic's pass over the top and protected the ball from Van Aanholt before teeing up Allen to slot home.

James Tomkins had a chance to pull Palace level but blazed over from Jason Puncheon's flick-on on the left-hand side of the box – taking a touch and providing a cross may have been more beneficial for his team.

Allardyce sent Loic Remy on in a bid to help find an equaliser in the closing stages, but Stoke were able to end a run of four straight top-flight defeats to Palace.

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Tom Webber

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