Crystal Palace 1 Brighton 1: Seagulls left to rue missed chances as Sanchez howler gifts hosts a point in M23 derby –

ROBERT SANCHEZ’S howler handed Crystal Palace a point and continued Brighton’s long run without a win over their rivals.

The Seagulls keeper dropped a clanger when letting Michael Olise’s cross fall from his hands and drop nicely for James Tomkins to equalise.


Solly March scored a brilliantly improvised finishCredit: Reuters
James Tomkins headed in from Robert Sanchez's mistake


James Tomkins headed in from Robert Sanchez’s mistakeCredit: Reuters
Patrick Vieira may have cause for concern over Crystal Palace's performance


Patrick Vieira may have cause for concern over Crystal Palace’s performanceCredit: Reuters

It is now seven games and almost four years since Brighton claimed victory in this fixture.

Solly March’s second-half strike after a dominant display looked to have ended that long wait but the gift-wrapped equaliser made it a third consecutive 1-1 draw between these two.

The Eagles had not won here since October and the home fans were up for the occasion to try and shake them out of their Selhurst slump.

With ticker tape, flags and a banner draped across the front of the Holmesdale Road end which read “Channel the energy that got us here”, the hosts were given a raucous reception.

But that intensity was not matched on the pitch.

Roberto De Zerbi’s side were after the Eagles from the off, with Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo snapping into aggressive challenges on Cheick Doucoure and Jeffrey Schlupp, with the World Cup winner earning an early booking.

He should have had an early goal too.

Fitting with Palace’s recent malaise, Doucoure played a loose square ball along the halfway line which was pounced upon by the Seagulls.


March raced down the right and slipped in Mac Allister, whose tame shot was saved by Vicente Guaita.

The Argentine was quick to test Guaita again, with his bending effort tipped away by the Palace keeper after another spell of pressure from the visitors.

Inside half an hour Guaita was already keeping Palace in it, diving to stop the bundle of energy that is Kaoru Mitoma, who sent a low shot across goal after exchanging a one-two with March.

But there was nothing the Spaniard could do to stop the opener.

When the Spaniard couldn’t get to Pervis Estupinan’s looping finish into the far corner, VAR stepped in to help, ruling the full-back narrowly offside.

The tight call lifted Palace for a moment and Adam Webster was needed to slide in and block efforts from Jean-Philippe Mateta twice in a matter of minutes, the second gifted after a dangerous ball back into his box from Mitoma caught Estupinan unawares and ended up with the Palace striker.

Marc Guehi had to be just as sharp as Webster at the other end, throwing himself in front of a Mac Allister effort from March’s cross on the stroke of half-time.

Brighton should have headed into the break comfortably ahead of their desperately poor hosts, and were back at it again within a minute of the restart.

March fired a low effort into the side netting from the off before sending another attempt into the arms of Guaita minutes later.

Palace, having not made a change at the break, were still largely chasing shadows and struggling to get a grip of the Seagulls, far more energetic and organised.

Vieira’s call to switch to an old-fashioned 4-4-2 was not helping things, and neither was new signing Albert Sambi Lokonga, booked for a challenge on March moments after being sent on for the injured Will Hughes.

March had been tormenting the Eagles throughout, setting the tone with unrelenting pressure off the ball and direct running on it.

And the former Palace academy man, who was with the club for two years before being released at 13, was the one to finally get the goal Brighton deserved.

After another extended spell of pressure, Estupinan delivered a devilish cross to the far post where March snuck in behind Tyrick Mitchell and finished high into Guaita’s net – wheeling away to celebrate with the travelling fans, who were soon singing about a European tour.

Their chants were quickly replaced by cries from the home support, all thanks to an almighty blunder from Sanchez.

After Guaita had been doing all he could to keep an underperforming Palace in the game, his counterpart completely undermined his team-mates.

Brighton were in near complete control until, just minutes after going ahead, Sanchez rose to collect an easy cross from Olise but let the ball slip through his fingers.

Tomkins was waiting patiently in the six-yard box to nod in his first goal since December 2021 and level for the hosts.

It was a gift for Palace and Vieira looked to capitalise on it by sending on Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze, though it was the Seagulls pushing for a winner – with Mac Allister heading Pascal Gross’ corner agonisingly wide.

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The point will be much more valuable to Vieira, though the Eagles boss will not have been impressed with the overall performance – and neither will fans.

Not every week brings a gift and lucky escape like this, and while the South London side remain in a comfortable mid-table spot, anxiety over slipping into a late relegation battle still floats around Selhurst Park.

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