Palace 0-0 Bolton
Dougie Freedman returned to Selhurst Park for the first time as a manager and stopped Palace from scoring at home in the league for the first time this season. Moritz and Murray both went close to nicking the points in the second half only for both to finish poorly and Bogdan twice saved well from shots that came through a crowd of player. Speroni was never seriously tested at the other end leaving many feeling that another two points have been dropped.
Holloway surprised all by starting both Butterfield and Nimely in midfield. With Freedman stating in the week that he felt that our style of play hadn’t changed since his departure it could be suggested that Holloway tried to mix it up to try and stifle any Bolton game plan. Unfortunately, this did not work well for Palace.
“A little bit sluggish in the first half” was a bit of an understatement from Holloway. Butterfield and Nimely looked good in patches, however, an understanding was missing with the rest of the team (with no game for 10 days perhaps this understanding will come). Only yet more heroic defensive midfield work from Mile Jedinak kept the visitors at bay in the first half as the looked to exploit the holes that Butterfield was leaving in the middle of the park.
As soon as Mortiz replaced Nimely, seven minutes into the second half, there was only one team who looked like they were going to go on and win the match. This was compounded when Williams replaced Butterfield with fifteen minutes remaining, seeing us run riot for the final stages and almost grabbing the victory. It was not to be, however, and we had to settle for a share of the spoils.
This draw saw Palace stretch their unbeaten run at home to thirteen games, the longest current run in the Championship. The last loss came on opening day against Watford and since then the Eagles have won eight and drawn five. This was also our fifth game of six against the teams relegated from the Premier League last season. Thirteen points from a possible fifteen is not bad going at all.
Great home record aside there is no doubt that we are in a bit of a rut with only one win in eight league games. However, as Holloway said at the end of the game; “we’re in a bit of a rut and we’re only drawing... some teams get in a rut and they lose all of the time.” If this ends up being our worst run in the season then it bodes well for our promotion push.
Including the cup games against Stoke, we have only scored one goal in our last three seeing us suffer our worst form in front of goal since November 2011. With this in mind, should I still be talking of a promotion push? I believe that I should and there are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, Wilfried Zaha is back to the player he was before his England call up. The signs that he was returning to form have been apparent in the last few games and yesterday it all came together for him. He was back to terrorizing defenders as almost everything he tried worked out for him. Just look at the picture accompanying this report (courtesy of Seb Daly), that is the only way in which they felt that they could deal with Zaha.
On top of his wizardry on the ball, there was also end product from the man who looks set to retain his place in the England squad for the upcoming friendly against Brazil. He laid on the best chance of the game to Murray after waltzing past three Bolton players before expertly cutting the ball back to “our talisman” as Holloway called him post match.
Secondly, Jonny Williams is back. The one good thing that came from the FA Cup was that Williams was able to get some game time under his belt and he looks so much sharper for it. An on form Joniesta will be just like a new signing in the second half of the season and a bloody good one at that!
The squad depth is starting to build now and hopefully we will add a striker before the month is out and we will be able to kick on and upwards.
Man of the Match: Mile Jedinak
I cannot remember the last time he put in a performance that was less than an eight out of ten. The man is a machine. He dominated the centre of the park again and refused to let Kevin Davies impose himself on the game. I am astounded that he has not been linked with a move to the Premier League as he is in no doubt Premier League class.
For all of the talk building up to the game as to whether to boo, cheer or just ignore Dougie Freedman. As the moment came, not much happened at all. A splattering of applause, a few boos here and there and that was about it. An anti-climax if I ever I saw one. What was pleasing was that 98% concentrated their efforts on supporting the team and a very good atmosphere was created.
A much needed rest now and then we are off to Huddersfield for some more ex-Palace related fun.