Play-off semi-final - Crystal Palace 0, Albion 0

Our Seagulls correspondent - Patrick Gleeson
Our Seagulls correspondent - Patrick Gleeson

Our Albion correspondent Patrick Gleeson reports on the first of the play-off semi-finals.

Albion and Crystal Palace could not be separated in the first-leg of their play-off encounter, leaving everything to play for at the Amex on Monday evening.

The goalless draw will have pleased Gus Poyet and his men as they invite the Eagles to the South Coast with the winner booking their place in the Wembley final later this month.

The game was played inside a cauldron of noise as the two rivals went head-to-head, and it was the visitors who went the closest in the first half when Will Buckley’s cross found Dean Hammond a few yards from goal but the midfielder headed straight at Julian Speroni.

Jonathan Williams went close for Palace when he flashed a 20 yard strike just wide of Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal before Liam Bridcutt made a crucial block to deny Kagisho Dikagcoi’s fierce shot.

Will Buckley was the centrepiece in the best move of the first period when Andrea Orlandi found Hammond inside the area although he could not direct the ball towards target. The neat passage of play rounded off a half in which the Seagulls dominated.

Palace started the second period with more intent and Wilfried Zaha gradually came into the game after switching flanks to go up against an already booked Inigo Calderon. He did well to cut in and fizz an effort at Kuszczak before drilling a dangerous ball which eventually evaded Williams in front of goal.

Danny Gabbidon then saw his effort cleared off the line by Orlandi after Kuszczak got a hand to it but the game ended in gridlock and ensured Monday’s fixture will be a tense affair.