Blackburn 1-1 Palace
Crystal Palace scored for the first time in four away games but failed to secure a play-off place as yet another error denied the Eagles victory for the first time in eight games.
Stephen Dobbie scored for the second game running after picking up a Wilbraham flick on before breezing past his marker and wrong footing the goalkeeper with a clever finish into the bottom corner. With Blackburn failing to trouble Palace in the final third victory looked a distinct possibility before Speroni came off his line when he should of stayed at home, allowing Rhodes to loft the ball over him just before half time.
The second half saw both Murray and Jedinak hit the crossbar and Delaney miss an absolute sitter as we tried in vain to break down Blackburn who held on to ensure their Championship safety.
Speroni's poor judgement aside this was a much more accomplished display across ninety minutes. A lot of people at the game said that they felt our performance was a bit flat in the second half. If hitting the bar twice, missing a sitter and having a certain goal denied by a foul on Murray that should have led to a penalty is a flat performance then good times could be here again.
Playing 442 again, for the first 55 minutes, the back to basics approach that Holloway has talked about paid off. There appeared to be more understanding of what we were supposed to be doing both defensively and going forward and we looked a lot more solid as a result. It didn't quite offer up the free flowing attacking football that we enjoyed earlier in the season, however, it did make us look tough to break down and resulted in our best defensive performance for weeks.
This allowed us to build some confidence and once we were in control of the game and playing with confidence we reverted back to our regular 4231 formation and looked more comfortable than we have for some time in this shape. Williams replaced Wilbraham and looked extremely dangerous on the left flank and when Garvan replaced Dobbie he immediately hit his stride, finding space in between the midfield and defence and nearly created the illusive winner, combining well with Murray and Zaha only for the former to drive across the face of goal and just wide.
Although Blackburn had more shots than us, their efforts were mostly from range and vey wayward. The efforts that we had, despite only hitting the target twice, were a lot more focused and well worked and on another day we could have easily have scored three or four.
Of course, goals are going to be important in the last two games and the three that we all hope will follow in the play-offs and hitting the target just once is still not good enough. However, the chances we managed to create have filled me with confidence have filled me with new confidence. There are, in the main, three reasons for this.
First, Zaha finally put in a performance. After weeks of under par showings, he was once more in full stride down the flank and tormenting defenders. If he can rediscover the form that earned him his England call up at this stage of the season then we will be laughing our way back to the Premier League.
Second, Murray showed signs that he has rediscovered his mojo. His movement was back to his best, his first touch was often superb and his shooting radar was back to where we should expect it to be. Only a great stop from the Blackburn keeper, finger-tipping a Murray shot on to the bar, prevented Glenn’s 31st of the season.
Finally, KG looked like the player that he was before he went off to the African Nations. His tackles were a lot more controlled and the mobility that we have so sorely missed seemed to return out of the blue. He and Jedinak had full control in the middle of the park, an important cog in the Crystal Palace winning wheel.
I know that I am ‘glass half full’ all of the time, and probably sometimes to a fault, however, I saw a lot yesterday that pleased me. Our squad is effectively fully fit (with the exception of Parr) and there is a lot more solidity to our line up. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot go and win our next two games and storm into the Play-Offs full of confidence and ready to take on Brighton. WE just have to believe.
Man of the Match: Kagisho Dikgacoi
Zaha, Ward and Gabbidon were in with a shout, however, KG just nicked it from them for me. His positioning was superb and he broke up play over and over again as a result whilst managing to get up and down the field for ninety minutes. If he can start to affect the game in final third like he was doing at the start of the season, we will be in a lot better shape.
A great and positive atmosphere was created by the Palace fans. The singing was constant and a second goal would have perhaps developed it into one of the best of the season. Alas that was not to be.
I did have a giggle at the Palace fans, after Blackburn fans were up screaming for a penalty after a great tackle from KG, started singing “He must have tripped on a chicken.” There might have been a little more chicken fun as well as to the tune of “CPFC” we started “Shit KFC” only for Rhodes to score and shut us all up.
Onto Millwall. A huge game for both clubs, for very different reasons. A win keeps them safe or guarantees us a Play-Off place. The fixture script writers warming up before the final day.
COME ON PALACE!