Quite how Hull City did not take three points from this game only heaven and Robert Koren know. In fairness to the Slovenian midfielder his astonishing first-half miss from no more than six yards was one of a series of good chances spurned by the Tigers, but that was minimal consolation to their manager, Steve Bruce.

"We couldn't have played any better, especially in the first half, but it's getting a little bit familiar, creating chances and not taking them," said Bruce, whose side had 19 attempts on target. "We were easily the better side and we have nothing to fear in this league, but a team is only as good as its strikers and it's obviously a concern."

Both these sides came into the game on the back of unexpected defeats, Crystal Palace at Leeds and Hull at home to Burnley, but whereas the Palace manager, Ian Holloway, simply replaced the suspended top scorer Glenn Murray with Jermaine Easter, Bruce shook up both team and formation.

Had he included a recognised striker in his line-up he might have been rewarded for his readiness to innovate because Hull, playing with three centre-backs and five, sometimes six in midfield, completely dominated the first half. The wing-backs Ahmed Elmohamady and the Manchester United loanee Robbie Brady repeatedly found space on the flanks, and Brady's first cross in the second minute should have been turned in by either Koren or David Meyler. Both somehow failed to connect.

Palace responded with a Yannick Bolasie shot well saved by City's goalkeeper, David Stockdale, but that was pretty much the last that was seen of the visitors as an attacking force until the last five minutes of the game. Passing the ball neatly and quickly through midfield, Hull created a series of opportunities, but with Sone Aluko, a midfielder, playing as the spearhead, lacked a natural finisher.

It seemed as well then that the best opportunity not just of the half but quite probably of the season should have fallen to Koren. With Palace's goalkeeper, Julián Speroni, already dragged out of position, all the Slovenian had to do was to direct the ball on target – but somehow he turned it over the bar.

Stephen Quinn shot just wide both before and after half-time, and Koren saw another close-range effort blocked by Speroni before Bruce, not before time, sent on two recognised forwards in Nick Proschwitz and Aaron McLean.

McLean duly brought a fine save out of Speroni, but Palace had begun to make occasional forays upfield, and with two minutes remaining were presented with a glorious chance to steal the win when Elmohamady's weak back pass left Bolasie with only Stockdale to beat. But he too dragged his shot wide, and in the final minute of added time Wilfried Zaha broke through only to see his close-range attempt blocked by Stockdale.

"We didn't get to grips with their shape in the first half but we were more imposing in the second," said Holloway.

"It took a long time for Wilf [Zaha] to get out of the shackles they put him in and almost win it for us, but that was two pretty good teams out there and you have to give Hull credit, they managed to nullify us up to a point.

"It was a pretty decent game that could have gone either way, and I'm more than happy to take something out of it."