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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Aston Villa 1-1 C Palace

Andy Johnson put Palace ahead
Crystal Palace picked up only their second point of the season after battling for a draw at Aston Villa.

Andy Johnson put Palace ahead after only six minutes with the 50th goal of his career at the club.

But Lee Hendrie equalised just before half-time with a fantastic 25-yard shot - but was booked for his celebrations and later limped off injured.

Both sides had chances to steal it in a frantic finish, Michael Hughes' shot tipped over by Villa's Thomas Sorenson.

It was a different Villa from the sleepy side which had started the game, seemingly confident that Palace's miserable run at the foot of the table would continue.

The visitors took full advantage, running free in midfield desperate to find their first victory of the season.

So when Gareth Barry slipped on the halfway line, Aki Riihilahti pounced eagerly on the mistake to set up the opener.

Johnson took the Finn's pinpoint 40-yard ball comfortably in his stride before sidefooting skilfully past Sorenson.

Lee Hendrie (left) was booked for his celebrations
Hendrie (left) was booked for his celebrations
The Villa keeper had plenty to deal with in the opening stages as the Villa back four seemed unable to deal with even simple high balls into the box.

Indeed Palace could have added three more goals within the first 20 minutes, Joonas Kolkka wasting the best chance when he ballooned over the bar from eight yards.

That narrow escape finally brought the home side to life - Nolberto Solano providing the spark.

Within minutes, good work from the Peruvian saw Juan Pablo Angel set up Hendrie for a snap shot which brought a fine reaction save from Kiraly.

And it was a moment of brilliance from Hendrie that finally brought Villa level.

Palace midfielder Ben Walton dived in clumsily allowing Hendrie to nutmeg him on the turn.

Andy Johnson put Palace ahead
Johnson put Palace ahead
One quick glance up was all Hendrie needed to find his 25-yard range, before unleashing a curling right-foot shot which Kiraly seemed happy to let fly by - until he saw the net bulge.

Hendrie was keen to celebrate his first goal of the season - but it proved costly.

He was first booked for over-zealousness and then, ten minutes into the second half, had to be replaced by Thomas Hitzlsperger due to a calf strain picked up leaping over the advertising hoardings.

With both sides chasing victory, they cantered to a frantic finish.

Carlton Cole came on for the out-of-sorts Vassell to try and unlock the Palace defence.

But his best best effort from long range was comfortably taken by Kiraly.

Palace's Hungarian keeper almost gifted Villa a late winner failing to clear a cross, but he was rescued by his defenders who cleared Peter Whittingham's cross-shot shot off the line.

Palace battled valiantly on through the pacy Kolkka and persistently hard-working Johnson.

But when Hughes' late shot was tipped over the bar, victory eluded them once again for the seventh time this season.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Delaney, Samuel, Solano, McCann, Hendrie (Hitzlsperger 55), Barry (Whittingham 81), Angel, Vassell (Cole 61).
Subs Not Used: Postma, Berson.

Booked: Hendrie, Delaney.

Goals: Hendrie 36.

Crystal Palace: Kiraly, Boyce, Popovic, Hall (Sorondo 78), Granville, Routledge, Hughes, Watson, Riihilahti, Kolkka (Soares 81), Johnson.Subs Not Used: Kaviedes, Torghelle, Speroni.

Booked: Boyce.

Goals: Johnson 6.

Att: 34,843.

Ref: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).

Interview: Aston Villa boss David O'Leary

Interview: Palace boss Iain Dowie (Real only)

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