Football/Soccer

Joel Ward's late equaliser earns Crystal Palace draw with Fulham

Joel Ward celebrates equalising for Crystal Palace (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Rachel Steinberg, PA

Joel Ward’s late equaliser ensured the points were split as Crystal Palace salvaged a 2-2 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring for the Eagles in the first half but Aleksandar Mitrovic’s spot kick in stoppage time ensured the sides were level at the break.

The Serbian striker, who had returned to the Cottagers’ starting line-up for the first time since his eight-match ban, then looked to have ignited a comeback win when he fired in his 14th of the season.

The hosts, however, were denied a final home victory of the campaign when Ward levelled from his own rebound to send the Eagles back to Selhurst Park with a point.

Roy Hodgson was without the services of Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha, who is out of contract at the end of this season and might have played his last game as an Eagle after aggravating an injury last time out.

Palace defender Joachim Andersen collided with Mitrovic soon after kick-off, leading to a bloody nose for the Cottager who was deemed fit to continue after swapping for a blank shirt.

Kenny Tete lifted a cross well above the woodwork and his side failed to make anything of two free-kicks, both from dangerous positions, as the first period ticked past its halfway point.

Palace remained in search of their first shot after Joao Palhinha’s well-timed tackle broke up Eberechi Eze’s threatening run, while Issa Diop’s clearance ended a scramble from Jordan Ayew’s cross at the back post.

Though Fulham seemed likelier to break the deadlock it was the visitors who took the lead on 34 minutes.

Eze’s lovely through ball to Edouard, starting in place of the injured Zaha, set up the opener, the Frenchman clipping the underside of the crossbar as he finished.

Palace looked to be taking the 1-0 lead into the break before Tyrick Mitchell was punished for fouling Harry Wilson late in three minutes of added time and the referee pointed to the spot.

Mitrovic stepped up and gave Sam Johnstone no chance as he fired in the equaliser to ensure it was all to play for after the break.

He somehow missed making it two to start the second half, collecting Harrison Reed’s cross at the left post but sent his effort from six yards out wide before Willian saw a shot picked out of the air by the Palace keeper.

The Eagles had not registered a second shot by the time Fulham took the lead through Mitrovic, ensuring the hosts finally made the most of a set piece when he nodded Willian’s free-kick past Johnstone’s right post.

It took a fine save from the Eagles keeper to ensure his side did not fall further behind when he just managed to tip Willian’s curled effort over the bar.

Everything looked to be going Fulham’s way until Palace won a free-kick. Olise’s initial delivery bounced around the box before landing at the feet of Joel Ward.

Leno stopped the initial effort, but the Palace skipper was alert to his own rebound and equalised with a left-footed effort to seal the result.