Leicester City kept their promotion hopes alive on Saturday afternoon as they battled to an entertaining 2-2 npower Championship draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to leave them a point outside the play-offs with two games to play.
The Eagles took a 27th minute lead through a Danny Gabbidon header, but just 10 minutes later City’s Andy King capped off a brilliant attacking move with a confident finish from 10 yards out to level.
Stephen Dobbie then curled a 20 yard shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-1, only to see Chris Wood grab a deserved equaliser for Leicester with a ferocious finish following a Damien Delaney slip.
Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson kept faith with the same XI and same 4-4-2 formation that performed so well in the 3-2 win over Bolton on Tuesday night, with Jeff Schlupp and Wood continuing their partnership up front.
Palace boss Ian Holloway made five changes to his misfiring Eagles, with Gabbidon, Dean Moxey, Alex Marrow, Dobbie and Aaron Wilbraham all coming into a side that hadn't won for six games.
Jonathan Parr, Peter Ramage, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Williams and Andre Moritz were the players that missed out as the home side looked to end a run of seven and a half hours without scoring a goal.
The early openings for both sides came from the wide areas – for City, Anthony Knockaert put a free kick into the arms of Palace ‘keeper Julian Speroni, while Matty James’ deflection on a Dobbie free kick brought a stunning save from Kasper Schmeichel.
Just before the 20-minute mark a flurry of half chances came City’s way. First Knockaert’s scuffed volley bobbled to Schlupp, who had an effort blocked, as did Wood before it eventually fell to King to shoot well over from 25 yards.
An opportunity finally arose for the hosts minutes later, when Dobbie attempted a free kick after King’s foul on Wilbraham. However his low effort hit the wall and City countered through Knockaert, resulting in a booking for Moxey, who cynically dragged him to the ground.
Unfortunately for City, it was Palace who made that all-important first breakthrough on 27 minutes through centre half Gabbidon.
The Welshman rose highest to meet Dobbie’s deep free kick and head low beyond Schmeichel into the bottom right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
City responded with a set piece of their own – a powerful 25 yard drive from Wood that took a deflection before dipping onto the roof of the net to the relief of a wrong-footed Speroni.
Finally though, City’s equaliser came with just eight minutes of the half left to play, and it was certainly worth waiting for.
Paul Konchesky found Knockaert, who first flicked the ball to Lloyd Dyer first time to play another great pass into the feet of King. The midfielder’s touch took the ball around Delaney and he was able to turn before beautifully placing a shot past Speroni for 1-1.
Then on the counter, Dyer picked out Wood with a clever through ball, but the New Zealander was forced to take on the shot first time, and couldn’t keep the effort down. But there was still time for one last Murray effort, which Schmeichel brilliantly turned over the bar as the sides entered the break on level pegging.
The teams both emerged unchanged for the second half, and neither wasted any time in testing the opposing goalkeepers. First De Laet forced a save with a back post header from James’ free kick, while at the other end a header from 30-goal striker Murray was well-held by Schmeichel.
But better was to come, as excellent play on the left opened up some space for Konchesky to put a brilliant cross in that fell for Knockaert, however the Frenchman’s effort was scooped up over the bar from 12 yards out.
Palace responded well, and after De Laet had brought down Dobbie on the left, his free kick was headed against the crossbar by former Norwich City man Wilbraham on 58 minutes.
A huge shout a penalty then went up from the Leicester end when a Michael Keane shot appeared to strike the hand of Palace captain Delaney, but the referee waved away appeals.
However in the 67th minute it was Palace who took the lead at 2-1. Murray lost the ball on the edge of the area, and it fell kindly for Dobbie to curl a right footed finish into the corner of the net, and leave City needing two goals to claim that coveted three points.
City boss Pearson then introduced David Nugent for Schlupp in the 73rd minute, and a matter of seconds later, The Foxes were back on level terms.
A slip from Palace skipper Delaney allowed Wood in on goal, and he made no mistake from a narrow angle with an emphatic finish into the top scorer to make it 2-2.
Holloway responded with the addition of substitutes Bolasie and Stuart O’Keefe for Dobbie and Alex Marrow, as the game went back and forth in a tense atmosphere.
Wilbraham then made way for 39-year-old Kevin Phillips in Palace’s final change, while City continued to throw everything they had towards getting that third goal with five minutes to play.
Wood tried a powerful shot, which was deflected wide for a corner as Paul Gallagher came on for Dyer in City’s final roll of the dice with the game entering four minutes of stoppage time.
However, with the hosts running down the clock, City were made to settle for a point that sees them now just one point outside the play-off places, in seventh position behind Bolton.
Palace (4-4-2): Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Zaha, Dikgacoi, Marrow (O’Keefe 78), Dobbie (Bolasie 76), Murray, Wilbraham
Unused subs: Fitzsimons, Ramage, Moritz, Banton
Goals: Gabbidon 27, Dobbie 67
City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan (c), Keane, Konchesky; King, Knockaert (Kane 90), Dyer (Gallagher 89), James; Wood, Schlupp (Nugent 73)
Unused subs: Drinkwater, Whitbread, Logan, Moore
Goals: King 37, Wood 73
Attendance: 18,563 (2,413 away)
Referee: A. Madley