Palace 0-0 Barnsley
Sat 6th April 2013
Crystal Palace drew a blank for the fourth consecutive game as relegation threatened Barnsley somehow held on for a point on Family Day at Selhurst Park. Over Twenty-two thousand people watched the Eagles hammer at the Tykes door over and over only to be repelled each and every time.
Palace boss Ian Holloway shocked many by taking off top goal scorer Glenn Murray as Palace hunted down a much needed winner. Aaron Wilbraham replaced the thirty goal man and it was almost a masterstroke from the gaffer. Twice Wilbraham found himself in goal scoring position, something that Murray had failed to do all game, only to fail at the last.
Selhurst held its breath and the upper tier ducked.
As ninety minutes ticked over, Wilfried Zaha got clear down the right for the umpteenth time in the game and picked out Wilbraham with a low cut back. Wilbraham pulled his leg back, Selhurst Park held its breath and the upper tier ducked.
Despite his awful finishing, the energy and movement showed by Wilbraham was reminiscent of Murray six or seven games ago and there are people arguing that he did enough to get a start at Ipswich on Tuesday week. Perhaps a rest for Murray just before the inevitable Play Off games is just what the doctor ordered.
Wilbraham was not the only man guilty of poor finishing, however. Twenty-three shots with twelve on target. An early goal and we would have run riot, but until we score that first goal and reignite our belief, frustration is all that is left.
Despite the comments coming out of the club that we are still aiming for second place, it is clear that this is just politics. Second place is now only a pipe dream and we will have to turn our mindset towards winning the end of season lottery.
This performance showed me enough to believe that we could win the Play Offs.
This performance showed me enough to believe that we could win the Play Offs, where post Blackpool I could only see us losing to whoever we were to play in the semi’s. The second half at Brighton, Birmingham and Blackpool saw us bereft of ideas when going forward. This game saw a big shift and all of a sudden we looked threatening again. This is in no small part to the inclusion of Andre Moritz.
I talked about how we have missed Owen Garvan since his injury. His ability to move the ball forward effectively with pace compliments our style of play well and he was key to our early season form. Since his injury everything has slowed down a bit in the final third as Moritz and Williams, usually one of the two playing behind Murray, often dwell on the ball too much and thus neutralised the pace of out wingers and the movement of Murray by allowing defenders to get back.
In this match we moved the ball much quicker through the final third and thus caused Barnsley no end of problems. Williams, replacing the injured KG and playing in a deeper role, was a lot more effective driving from deep in this formation. These driving runs pulled their centre mid all over the place and this created space for Moritz who could then dictate play from the hole and move the ball a lot quicker out to Bolasie and Zaha, the latter being once again on top form.
Barnsley had to wear our yellow away strip.
I lost count of the amount of times that a cross from either flank looked extremely dangerous only to fortuitously drop at the foot of the opposition. The irony was not lost on me that these crosses constantly dropped to a man in a Palace shirt, a Palace shirt worn by the Barnsley players as a pre match debacle saw the referee deem the kits too similar meaning that Barnsley had to wear our yellow away strip. Alas it was not to be our day, but at least we stopped the rot.
What was refreshing was to see Joel Ward back in the back four. He is very solid defensively and is just as dangerous as any of our fullbacks going forward. His surety in defence seemed to compose our defence and our wide woes that have haunted us in recent weeks were essentially nullified b his presence.
One disappointment, aside from the result, was that Jedinak picked up a very soft yellow card and will thus miss the Ipswich match. With KG injured this could prove to be a problem, however, Mile has not been performing as brilliantly as we have come to expect in the last few games, so perhaps a rest will also help him just as it may help Murray.
There is no reason why we have to limp into the Play Offs. One goal could turn our season back around and see us mixing it with the big boys next season still. Positive thoughts are a must at a time when they are difficult. But try we must!
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
I cannot believe that we only have five (possibly eight) more games left. His ball skills are just magical and watching him run rings around players in Red n Blue is soon going to be nothing but a memory. My cousin, a Man Utd fan, attended this match as I demanded that he saw him play for Palace before he played for United. Needless to say, he left with a big smile on his face.
Although it was not as loud as Selhurst can be, it was a positive atmosphere. 99.9% of the fans stuck with the team to the end and never got on their back when the ball refused to go in. I keep talking about this one elusive goal changing our season. This goal will undoubtedly bring the loud vocals back but we really should try and find this voice to help this goal along. Respect to the HF for their pre match efforts in singing the players through their warm up. It clearly helped as the performance was so much better in recent weeks, showing that support from the fans can definitely act as a twelfth man.
Let’s get to Ipswich and make some noise for the boys. EAGLES!