Speroni leaps to thwart Sammon
Julian Speroni saved Conor Sammon's late penalty as Crystal Palace secured a first npower Championship away win since November with a 1-0 victory over Derby at Pride Park.
Yannick Bolasie clinically scored the game's only goal for the promotion hopefuls, who looked good value for the three points until captain Mile Jedinak fouled substitute Ben Davies in the penalty area with three minutes remaining.
However, Sammon's powerful spot-kick was brilliantly deflected onto the bar by the Argentinian shot-stopper to consign Nigel Clough's side to a first home defeat of 2013.
Returning forward Wilfired Zaha had to wait just five minutes for his first opportunity - a long ball upfield was flicked on by Glenn Murray and Zaha's change of pace allowed him to sear in behind the Derby backline, only to then shoot straight at Adam Legzdins.
The breakthrough came in the 13th minute in freak circumstances. Eagles skipper Jedinak won a thunderous challenge inside his own half and the ball went flying up field to Bolasie, who took full advantage of Derby's AWOL backline to coolly round the keeper and fire home.
Palace might have had a second three minutes later when Jedinak's 25-yard thunderbolt cannoned off the crossbar, while at the other end only the excellent Damien Delaney's last-ditch challenge prevented Sammon going clean through on goal.
Derby began to play their way into the game; Jamie Ward had a volleyed effort parried behind by Speroni, before John Brayford's low cross was only half-cleared to Craig Bryson, who shot straight at the veteran keeper. Speroni also made a good save from Chris Martin after he was sent through following a delightful one-two with Paul Coutts.
Derby were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in stoppage time when Peter Ramage appeared to haul Martin down, but Sammon should have levelled seven minutes after the break when Martin's clever overhead kick played Michael Jacobs in down the left channel and the substitute squared to the Irishman, only for Speroni to smother his effort.
Legzdins did well to deny the visitors a second goal after 65 minutes when he brilliantly tipped Jonathan Williams' 20-yard effort over the bar.
The hosts were struggling to fashion clear-cut opportunities, but Speroni had to be alert to push away Richard Keogh's low drive from the edge of the box, before Sammon's penalty woe capped a miserable night for the home fans.
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