By Mo Khan
Arsenal reduced Tottenham's lead at the top of the Reserve League South to nine points with a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on Thursday evening.
The Gunners took the lead through a first-half Nicklas Bendtner penalty but Wayne Andrews equalised for the home side soon afterwards.
Neil Banfield's men regained the lead in the second period when substitute Jay Simpson rounded off a fine team move before Mark Hudson equalised for the home side almost immediately.
Banfield had made two changes to the side narrowly beaten by Fulham at Underhill on Monday: Mart Poom replaced Vito Mannone in goal and Ryan Smith came in for Jay Simpson who dropped to the substitutes' bench.
Having started with a 4-5-1 formation against the west Londoners earlier in the week, Banfield reverted to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation with Bendtner and Anthony Stokes leading the attack.
And it was the former of that pairing who nearly gave the Gunners an early lead. Smith ghosted past two defenders before supplying a superbly-weighted pass for the tall Dane, but Bendtner sent a hurried side-footed effort wide of the left-hand upright.
Three minutes later, it was the turn of the hosts to pass up an opening in front of goal. In the space of 60 seconds, Andrews and then Lewis Grabban both sent low shots straight at Poom in the Arsenal goal.
In a busy opening, Matthew Connolly then produced a well-timed tackle on Andrews in the penalty area, to deny the lively winger a shot on goal.
After 28 minutes, Mark Randall came in off the right flank to feed Bendtner with his back to goal. The former Copenhagen man spun away from his marker before sending a vicious cross-cum-shot wide of the far post. Bendtner was doing as much as anyone to end the stalemate and, six minutes later, he got his reward.
Aramnd Traore made a run on the left, strode into the box and found Bendtner who was impeded as he looked to turn his man. The referee showed no hesitation in awarding the spot-kick and Bendtner coolly sent the keeper the wrong way.
But their lead lasted just five minutes before Andrews rifled home a wonderful volley from Grabban's cross on the left.
Just before the hour mark, Smith found Stokes who immediately layed it off to Bendtner but the striker dragged his shot wide. Ten minutes later, another flowing passage of Arsenal play did yield a goal. Smith skipped past his marker on the left and found Bendtner, who took the ball in his stride and went past Palace keeper Julian Speroni before squaring unselfishly for Simpson to tap home at the far post.
For a second time in the game, the Eagles flew straight down the other end and Hudson leapt highest at the far post to head home Palace's second.
The home side nearly snatched all three points late on when substitute Eero Peltonen flashed a volley wide of Poom's right-hand post. But the game ended 2-2 between the two sides for the second time this term.
Ryan Smith leaves Fray behind
Smith shares a joke with the ref
Bendtner scores from the spot
Bendner celebrates his spot-kick
Andrews shadows Traore
Bendtner fires in a shot
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