Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway still believes his charges can win automatic promotion to the Premier League, despite a 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers.
Former Palace boss Dougie Freedman set up his Trotters defence to repel everything the Eagles threw at them, and it would end in frustration for Holloway and the Selhurst Park faithful.
Palace remain fourth in the Championship table, which – when you bear in mind a record since the beginning of December of 12 points out of 27 – is rather surprising.
But Holloway, who gave Jacob Butterfield his debut and Alex Nimely his first start, remains positive of promotion, despite two dropped points.
“We started sluggishly, maybe the two new lads in the team was the reason behind it,” Holloway said.
“But the longer the game went on the better we got. I cannot believe we did not win, but that is how things go.”
He added: “We could not get on the end of balls in the box, and that was the difference today. If we had scored we could have deserved it.
“I thought we played wonderfully today, but we’ve only got a point. How does that work?
“They are all disappointed in the dressing room, but I have told them I am proud of them and that we can still go up automatically.”
Palace had the ball in the net in the first half, but Glenn Murray was in an offside position when he snaffled a rebound off Yannick Bolasie’s low drive.
In the second half, Wilfried Zaha gave Trotters full back Marcos Alonso a torrid time with his crowd-pleasing trickery – however, he could not find the final pass and when he lost possession trying another trick rather than playing the easy pass to Jonathan Parr, the crowd’s frustration was telling.
But despite Palace’s huffing and puffing, they could not break down the Trotters’ resilience.