Dec 26 (Reuters) - Crystal Palace began life under Sam Allardyce with a 1-1 draw at Watford on Monday though they could easily have won an evenly-balanced Premier League game but for a missed Christian Benteke penalty.
Palace had the best of the first half and went ahead after 26 minutes when winger Andros Townsend’s incisive run and neat inside pass set up Yohan Cabaye to turn the ball into the net first time.
The visitors missed the chance to double the lead 10 minutes later when Heurelho Gomes saved a softly-struck Benteke penalty that he had given away himself when hacking down the striker.
Watford had barely threatened in the first half but were rewarded for their improvement when Troy Deeney slammed in from the spot after 71 minutes after Damian Delaney had hauled down Sebastian Prodl at a corner. It was Deeney’s first goal for three months – and his 100th for the club.
Both sides then looked happier to hold on to a point than risk going for all three and for Allardyce, in particular, it was a satisfying, if frustrating start.
“That was two points dropped for me,” he told Sky Sports. “In some ways it was encouraging, away from home in my first game but on the balance of chances created it should have been a victory.”
Allardyce, sacked by England in September after a newspaper sting, was appointed on Friday following the dismissal of Alan Pardew after a dire run that has left Palace one place above the relegation zone.
“If we keep that sort of level up then hopefully we’ll turn performances into victories,” he said.
“We played very well today, especially in the first half, and it’s our own fault we haven’t got three points.”
Benteke’s penalty miss was a bad one as his attempt to deceive Gomes and roll the ball in went badly wrong.
“I haven’t been here long but if I had to be critical I’d say he should have put it in the other side as everybody knows he’s put his last two there,” Allardyce said.
”It doesn’t matter where you dummy the goalie, they get all the information these days.
“I think we got a bit deflated after missing the penalty and we can’t do that.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond