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Crystal Palace 0 Stoke 0: Michael Owen overshadowed by Wilfried Zaha
Published : 05 Jan 2013 16:52:00
Michael Owen endured a frustrating return to action as Stoke City were held to a 0-0 draw by Crystal Palace in the FA Cup third round. The former England striker started his first match in 14 months at the ground where he scored on his Liverpool debut as a 17-year-old against Wimbledon in 1997. But 16 years on, Owen, reprising his England strike pairing with Peter Crouch, lasted just 53 minutes without managing an effort at goal. While Owen toiled, all the eye-catching displays came from Palace. Wilfried Zaha has been the scourge of Championship defences all season and certainly did not look intimidated by Stoke's grizzled top-flight rear guard. In the second minute, he played in Jermaine Easter with a diagonal pass and the striker's curler from the right-hand corner of the box was tipped away by Thomas Sorensen. Moments later, Zaha's clever reverse pass sent Yannick Bolasie scampering into the box and his low, driven cross was hacked clear by Ryan Shawcross. Five minutes before half-time, Zaha pounced on Robert Huth's mistake on halfway and raced into the box, chased manfully by the Stoke centre-half, but his angled drive was turned away by Sorensen. Zaha was then left in a heap after a late challenge by Ryan Shotton, which went unnoticed by referee Neil Swarbrick. After lengthy treatment he was able to continue, but was still hobbling after half-time and was eventually replaced in the 55th minute. Owen had, by then, already left the action and substitute Cameron Jerome had Stoke's first shot on target, a dipping volley which Lewis Price held on to. Bolasie remained a threat for Palace, teeing up Moritz for a shot that the Brazilian miss-kicked horribly, before forcing Sorensen into a diving save from 20 yards. Palace sub Jason Banton hit the side-netting, while for Stoke, Charlie Adam's ambitious lob flew wide. But neither side could find a winner and, although Palace were the better side, the promotion-chasers face a replay they could probably do without.