Crystal Palace 1 West Bromwich Albion 1
West Bromwich Albion finally ran out of steam as they failed to take top spot in the Championship.
The Baggies would now be sitting at the top of the division, following Watford's defeat to Bristol City, had they beaten a hard-working and resilient Crystal Palace side in south London.
Instead, they are now one point behind the Hornets and two in front of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are staking their own claim in this increasingly-intriguing Championship promotion race.
This was simply one match too many for Tony Mowbray's men following games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Plymouth Argyle in less than a week.
True, they had played the same number of games as Wolves, in the same number of days, yet Albion had two long energy-sapping road trips to overcome.
Things were looking good for Albion early on at Selhurst Park, with Mowbray's side taking the lead thanks to a Mark Hudson own-goal.
They could have been two ahead six minutes later. Filipe Teixeira unlocked the Palace side with a fantastic moment of skill and vision and his crossfield ball released Gera. The Hungarian's pass back to Robert Koren was hit first time but the Slovenian's low shot flew just wide of Julian Speroni's right-hand post.
Awful marking then allowed former Birmingham City man Clinton Morrison to equalise after 20 minutes. Ben Watson, so impressive throughout, delivered an excellent free-kick into the crowded penalty area which was headed on by Jose Fonte and fell for the unmarked Morrison, who turned his shot past Dean Kiely from six yards.
Palace could have increased their lead two minutes later when Morrison's right-hand cross was headed just wide by James Scowcroft.
The first-half became more scrappy but Palace opened up the visitors four minutes before the interval and should have taken advantage of more poor Albion play when Tom Soares broke through the middle and laid the ball back for Watson. However, his shot was palmed away for a corner by Kiely as Albion's backline folded too easily.
Craig Beattie came on at half-time, as the Baggies switched to a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation and the Scotland striker was at the centre of Albion's first attack inside the opening two minutes of the second half. Jonathan Greening floated a cross into the box, only for Beattie to take his eye off the ball, completely miscuing his effort.
The happiest man in the ground by the end of the afternoon was Neil Warnock. Celebrating his 59th birthday, the Palace manager punched the air as he'd he'd won the FA Cup at the final whistle. If it felt more like a victory for him, however, it was certainly less productive for Mowbray.
Having felt that his side simply ran out of gas after their exhausting week, he is now hoping for a return to winning ways in tomorrow's game against Coventry City.
"It was very poor, really," said the Albion boss. "I didn't enjoy it but the important thing is we didn't lose.
"We had two very tough away games this week so we'll take four points. Palace are fighting for the lives, so they were looking to make it scrappy.
"We have no qualms about how they approached the game, I'm more concerned with what we did. It was Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday for us and perhaps it was one game too many. I didn’t enjoy it and I’m sure nobody else enjoyed it, but the positive for us is that we didn't lose in two very tough away games.
"We’ve taken four points and we get ready for Tuesday night and try to push on again."
Warnock was more pleased with the outcome, feeling that Selhurst Park, often a daunting arena for visitors, had been an unwelcoming proposition for the Baggies.
"That was what I expected when I came to Crystal Palace," said the former Sheffield United chief. "It was horrible, the pitch was bobbly, the weather was bad and all that was fantastic.
"That's the first time I've enjoyed a game since I've come here, I thought it was great. Three weeks ago, we would have stood off from them a little too much, given them the ball and let them do what they wanted to do, like they did at Plymouth in midweek.
"It was a great result for us but we're quite disappointed not to win. I know they've had a couple of chances but they know they've been in a game today.
"They are the best side in the league, so we've come on quite a long way and the players have started to believe in themselves."
Scorers: Hudson (og, 8) 0-1; Morrison (20) 1-1.
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-4-2): Speroni, Lawrence, Hudson, Fonte, Hill, Soares, Watson, Derry, Songo'o (Martin, 80), Scowcroft, Morrison (Dickov, 48). Subs: Freedman, Kennedy, Butterfield, Martin.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-2-3-1): Kiely, Hoefkens, Cesar, Barnett, Robinson, Greening, Koren (MacDonald, 63), Gera, Teixeira, Brunt (Beattie, h/t), Bednar. Substitutes: Chaplow, Steele, Pele.
Referee: Uriah Rennie (South Yorkshire).
Bookings: Palace — Hill (foul); Albion — Cesar (foul).
Albion man of the match: Cesar.