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October 27 2020 8.39am

Portsmouth 1 - 1 Palace

Thu Dec 26 2002 - League

A Julian Gray equalising goal helped Palace hold league leaders Portsmouth to a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park.

The former Arsenal winger continued his fine scoring form this season when he struck on the half-hour mark after Paul Merson had put the home side ahead after 27 minutes.

Match Stats

Ground: Fratton Park (Attendance: 19217)

Portsmouth: Hislop, Crowe (Harper, 81), Taylor, Primus, De Zeeuw, Foxe, Quashie, Diabate (O'Neil, 57), Merson, Burton (Pericard, 58), Todorov

Subs not used: Kawaguchi, Burchill

Booking: Foxe

Goal: Merson 27

Palace: Kolinko, Butterfield, Gray, Powell, Symons, Popovic, Derry, Riihilahti, Mullins, Black (Akinbiyi, 62), Adebola

Subs not used: Michopoulos, Williams, Routledge, Borrowdale

Goal: Gray 30

Referee: L Cable (Woking)

It was Gray who had the Eagles' first shot on goal after nine minutes, but Pompey keeper Shaka Hislop was equal to it.

Eight minutes later, Palace had a let-off as Svetoslav Todorov hit the crossbar from close-range from a corner.

Then Merson scored the opening goal as he got on the end of Matthew Taylor's cross for his seventh goal of the season.

Gray levelled four minutes after, putting away Danny Butterfield's header into the box.

Approaching half-time, Tommy Black had an effort cleared by Pompey defender Hayden Foxe while Hayden Mullins steered his shot wide of the goal.

Harry Redknapp brought on two subs at half-time but it was Gray who was the threat again, forcing Hislop into another save just past the hour mark.

Ade Akinbiyi made his long-awaited return from injury for his first match of the season, replacing the ineffective Black before sub Gary O'Neil unleashed a 25-yard shot which came back off the crossbar.

Nigel Quashie and former Palace loanee Jason Crowe had chances for Pompey, while Akinbiyi had two efforts himself, which Hislop saved including a fine turn around his post.

Post match comments:

Francis said: "Julian is in great form at the moment and took the goal very well. He looked dangerous every time he got the ball and was probably our most potent threat.

We were a bit disappointed not to win the game because I thought we had enough chances to take all three points
Trevor Francis

"We were a bit disappointed not to win the game because I thought we had enough chances to take all three points.

"We got ourselves in some good situations but we didn't make the most of them when we got them.

"But I can't be too hard on my players because Portsmouth have only lost twice all season so we are pretty content with a draw."

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