England's UEFA EURO 2012 qualification hopes suffered a setback when they were held to a goalless draw by Group G leaders Montenegro at a subdued Wembley Stadium.
Fabio Capello's side struggled to break down their disciplined opponents and, when they did threaten, goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic twice denied Wayne Rooney.
Indeed, England were given a late scare when Milan Jovanovic volleyed against Joe Hart's crossbar. Montenegro started with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Elsad Zverotic protecting the back four and Radomir Djalovic the lone forward.
Crouch had the chance to put England ahead after only three minutes after timing his run to beat the offside trap and run onto Steven Gerrard's through pass. But the Spurs striker could not full contact on his shot when sliding in and it drifted wide of the far post.
Djalovic had the first half chance for Montenegro after cutting inside Glen Johnson but he dragged his low shot well wide. Milorad Pekovic needed treatment during the build-up to that opportunity after a challenge by Ferdinand but was able to resume.
Ashley Young saw plenty of the ball but was well off target with one right-footed drive. Another probing ball over the top of the Montenegro defence from Gerrard almost played in Young but the ball skidded off the surface through to Bozovic.
Crouch squandered England's best chance to date when he headed over when well-placed from Glen Johnson's centre after Gerrard had spotted him in space with a quick free-kick. Young showed his pace in skipping past two challenges before being body checked on the edge of the Montenegro box by Miodrag Djudovic who was yellow carded.
Crouch appealed in vain for handball against Jovanovic after he challenged the England striker for a deep cross from Young. Rooney tried his luck from 25 yards out but saw his shot fly over the bar and then no-one got on the end of a powerful cross from Gerrard.
Gerrard continued to look England's most creative player and one fine pass played in Rooney only for Bozovic to race off his line and block the first time shot.
Kevin Davies, at 33, became England's oldest debutant since Leslie Compton in 1950 when he replaced Crouch after 70 minutes. Bozovic beat out Rooney's powerful shot after he had linked well with Davies.
England had claims a penalty waved away when Cole’s cross hit Jovanovic inside the box and the same player caused a heart-stopping moment for the Three Lions when his dipping volley from 20 yards crashed against the crossbar and rebounded to safety.
The Montenegro players celebrated the point at the final whistle, while England left the field to a chorus of boos.