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November 24 2020 4.03am

Palace 0 - 0 Birmingham City

Mon Apr 1 2002 - League


Palace could not muster a win over Judas Bruce's Birmingham, playing out a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park.

Judas deservedly got plenty of stick from the home crowd and it was pleasing to see him go home without a victory over us he would have so loved.

The Palace were clearly well up for the occasion and the atmosphere at Selhurst was the best its been for a while - support for the team and disrespect for Bruce.

In an even first half, both sides had decent scoring chances but Palace should have got more from the game from their second half efforts.

To the surprise of virtually everyone in the ground, Danny Granville stepped up to take the free-kicks at the edge of the box and was very unlucky not to score with three well-taken attempts.

He had a couple inches wide and keeper Nico Vaesen thwarted him with two vital saves. Any other day at least one of them would have flown in the net. So why hasn't Granville been the main free-kick taker as he is clearly pretty good at them.

In a lively opening, Matt Clarke put Geoff Horsfield's strike round the post (when it was harder to miss) with his foot and later made a two great saves from Stern John. Vaesen made a crucial save from Clinton Morrison from six yards by just getting enough on the ball to put it past the post.

Steve Thomson had a 25-yard shot fly just over the bar and Dougie Freedman was orchestrating a series of attacks, playing just behind the front two. Although he is playing well in that position, the clinical Scot is needed up front to score.

The teams left for the half-time break to a chorus of 'Bruce abuse' and Clarke, who had suffered a swollen eye when saving from John earlier, was replaced by a very portly Cedric Carasso.

The French youngster, who was signed from Olympic Marsielles on a short term deal, must not have believed his luck when he was thrown on for the second half as Alex Kolinko was injured.

His distribution was decent and did not have a save to make, which showed Palace's superiority in the second period.

His opposite number was called into action, tipping over a Granville free-kick and then a remarkable double save from another Granville free-kick.

From a corner, Ade Akinbiyi had a bullet header cleared off the line by a Brum defender. Palace were destined not to score. From another, Dean Austin was a foot wide with a far post header.

Francis brought on Julian Gray (who should be playing from the start!!) and later Tommy Black, to try and find a winning goal. Gray was lively as ever but the Eagles could not find that elusive goal which they deserved on their performance and Vaesen stood in the way of the three points.

Bruce dashed to the tunnel as the full-time whistle went and later failed to show up at the managers' press conference.

Man of the Match: Freedman - Was a different class in the hole behind the strikers

Chants of the Match: Stand up if you hate Steve Bruce; Sit down, shut up; Wanker, wanker, wanker!; Stevie Bruce is a wanker, is a wanker.

Post match comments: Trevor Francis said: "Vaesen had an outstanding game, he made saves at vital times and he's a good keeper.

"We played well - there was one team out there trying to win it and one trying not to lose it.

"We've had two satisfying performances over a tough Easter but only one point to show for it regarding the play-offs.

"Birmingham will make the play-offs - they've done well once in the play-offs and it's a level playing field for everyone."

Steve Bruce said: "I knew how they [the fans] felt at the time and I expected it to be as hostile as it was.

"Those fans have a right to say and do what they like, so I was prepared. The only thing is that they don't know what went on behind the scenes back then and I cannot say anything about it.

"The people that really, really matter to me are aware.

"I tried to concentrate on the game as best I could when we got under way, but there's always that feeling in the back of your mind that it only takes one nutcase.

"On the whole, yesterday wasn't a problem for me. Yes, I felt something hit me when I got off the bus but as for all the rest of it, I wasn't bothered."

Birmingham City (H) Photos From The Terrace Photos

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Match Stats

Ground: Selhurst Park (Attendance: 19598)

Palace: Clarke (Carasso 45), Mullins, Austin, Murphy (Gray 72), Granville, Fleming, Riihilahti, Thomson, Freedman (Black 84), Morrison, Akinbiyi.

Subs not used: Rodger, Kirovski.

Birmingham City: Vaesen, Kenna, Tebily, Michael Johnson, Tommy Williams (Lazaridis 55), Damien Johnson, Michael Hughes, Bryan Hughes (Devlin 85), Woodhouse, Horsfield (Mooney 75), John.

Subs not used: Bennett, Eaden.

Booked: Bryan Hughes.

Referee: S J Baines (Chesterfield)

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