Cardiff 2-1 Palace
Crystal Palace threw away yet another lead on the way to defeat against the league leaders, seeing the Eagles slip to seven points behind. Mile Jedinak had given Palace an early lead and Zaha, Garvan and Murray all came close to extending the lead before Cardiff fought back with goals from Noone and Gunnarsson.
We can be honest, it couldn't have been much worse. Lose from ahead with an ex Weed scoring and celebrating in front of us like he had just won the World Cup. However, the fact that Palace fans are losing the plot after a mini poor run is just ridiculous. In isolation, this is one game in a very long season and is by no means the end of the world!
Not one person had us as high up the league as we are and for us to start panicking after a defeat to the team with the best home record in the whole of Europe is just ludicrous. Especially considering that with better finishing, we would have been out of sight before they scored, showing the extent to which we outplayed them in the first half.
The early dominance started with Jedinak flicking home a Garvan corner before Garvan tested the Cardiff keeper from range. Zaha then showed that he has been listening to what Holloway has been trying to teach him when it comes to shooting. Zaha leaves all comers in his wake down the left as he cuts inside. Just like his goal versus Huddersfield we were all expecting Wilf to put his laces through the ball and try and hit it as hard as he possibly could. Instead he attempted to curl the ball into the far top corner and just missed, hitting the crossbar. The ball dropped to Murray and he failed to hit it first time only to eventually work an opening that he fired wide. “We need to put this game to bed” I said to Dan at this point. Turns out I was right.
Murray had two more golden chances and, for once, he failed to find the net. An Owen Garvan clearance worked out to be the perfect through ball for Glenn and as he raced clear he took one final touch to set himself for a shot only for the final touch to get away from him and end up in the hands of David Marshall. Then, moments after Cardiff had equalised, Zaha got away down the right and cut back perfectly for Murray. He is eight yards from goal and as he cocks back his leg I am already cheering retaking the lead only for him to, uncharacteristically, smash the ball over the bar.
Recently we have fallen into the habit of conceding goals at shitty times and this game was no different. After have a total of zero threats, Speroni is picking the ball out of the back of the net. Cardiff had been limited to pointless efforts from range before Bellamy got the better of Ramage at the by-line and cut the ball back to find one of the men I hate most in football, Noone, to make it 1-1. Talk about ruin my Christmas. The only saving grace is that he scored against us for a team that is not Brighton... every cloud.
We were always going to struggle in the second half as a result of this. It was wet, the wind was swirling and Cardiff are complete and utter long ball merchants so dealing with an onslaught of high balls was always going to be difficult. Is this me having a dig at Cardiff? Maybe. They play unglamorous football, however, it is very effective. Think Palace under Dowie in the Championship. Look long for the head of Shipperley and nod it down to a nippy striker. Eventually it proved too much and Gunnarsson got on the end of a cross to beat Speroni, a cross that was enabled after yet another soft free kick awarded to the home team by the referee.
I have tried to limit the amount that I complain about referee’s this season, however, for the second game running we were stuck with another shocking game from the man in charge. He awarded foul after foul to the home team to the extent that the game ended with Palace having committed 24 fouls, to Cardiff’s 12, seeing us out foul a team for the first time this season. Of the 24 fouls awarded against us it would be fair to say that 20 of them were won by the crowd. The “crowd and their manager reffed the game today” saw Steve Parrish still fuming after the game. At one point the ref stopped the game for a head injury. To signal that he had stopped the game for a head injury he started tapping the top of his head like the Ayatollah much to the delight of the home fans. I guess that for a second that he forgot that he was not supposed to let on that he was a Cardiff fan.
We were not chance-less in the second half. A Jedinak header look to be going in only to deflect off Gabbidon and loop just over the crossbar and Bolasie put a shot wide when he should have at least hit the target. The fact remains, however, that our second half performance was not good enough and the transfer window cannot open soon enough. A little help is required to kick us on to the next level.
Don’t lose the plot just yet my fellow Eagles. There is a long way to go and we WILL be there or there about’s come May.
Man of the Match: Mile Jedinak
He grabbed his second goal of the season and once again dominated the centre of the park and all that Cardiff could do was kick the ball long over his head to avoid him. Further, he avoided a booking which will come in handy at some point later this season.
Boxing Day always attracts a very different crowd. Usually one that just wants to sit there in silence and nurse their Christmas Day hangovers. The atmosphere left a lot to be desired, from both teams. I cannot remember I saw at least 80% of the Palace fans sitting down at an away game, especially one as big as this.
There is no time to sit around and mope as we have to travel to, now manager-less, Nottingham Forest on Saturday for another big test. Onwards and upwards. EAGLES!