Palace 1-1 Hudds
Crystal Palace led going into the last twenty minutes for the third game running only to be denied a win late on. Whilst the previous two draws can be chalked up as points lost, this has to be considered as a good point gained. The Eagles had to play for seventy-nine minutes with ten men as Damien Delaney was sent off for a rash challenge on Jermaine Beckford and only some Julian Speroni heroics kept the home team in the game.
Despite being a man short Palace took the lead through Wilfried Zaha in what will go down as one of the greatest goals ever scored at Selhurst Park (more on that later), however, this was not before a post red card Huddersfield onslaught that saw Speroni deny Clayton from the spot and Beckford with a world class save.
Sadly, Speroni’s performance will not be remembered for his string of fine saves but for his error that led to Huddersfield equaliser. Southern was merely helping the ball back into the danger area, however, the ball evaded everyone and squirmed through the legs of the Palace stopper.
Before the sending off we were dominant. Shots were raining in on the Huddersfield goal and they could not live with us. A comfortable victory was definitely on the cards. The game is then thrown into doubt with the sending off and at that stage you take a point, especially when considering the amount of great chances that the Terriers created in the immediate period after the dismissal. None better than the Sean Scannell won penalty kick. An incident that has split Palace fans right down the middle.
How can a Hillsborough hero lose the respect of any Palace fan? Well, diving for a penalty in front of the Holmesdale on your return to the club that made you the person you are today is a bloody good start. Whether you want to call it a dive or going down easily, the fact of the matter is there is no contact on his legs and he drops like he has been scythed down.
Many booed his every touch after this incident and many argued with the people that booed. I was booing and it breaks my heart. A local boy, an academy graduate and an all around nice lad. I didn’t want to boo him but what he did is, ultimately, disrespectful and he has to know that.
Since we signed Glenn Murray from the Weed he has scored past them three times. Each and every time he has refused to celebrate. That’s respect. Sean Scannell on the flip side, has dived for a penalty, right in front of the heart and soul of Selhurst Park and then walked away grinning and fist pumping in celebration of the award of the penalty. To show such blatant disrespect really shocked me and “broke my football heart” (as Webbsword said on Twitter). Big Scanz, you’re dead to me. “Scannell, Ambrose, Goal!” has now become “Ambrose, Goal!”
With that out of the way, we can now move on to Zaha’s goal and what a goal it was. The finish is outrageous. We have seen Zaha blast that very same shot high and wide on many occasions in his short career so I was just as surprised as everyone else when it nearly took the roof of the net off. However, it is not the finish, as brilliant as it is, that makes this goal “one of the greatest goals ever scored at Selhurst Park.” It is all about the assist.
Yannick Bolasie is by far and away the Championship buy of the season. He has been outshining Zaha for the past several games and now has even outshined Zaha, even though it was Wilf that scored the goal!! After showing great tenacity to win the ball he then proceeds in putting Zaha through on goal with a pass that would have had the world drooling if it was Lionel Messi that had passed it. He rolls his foot over the ball and rebounds it off his standing foot to release Zaha, leaving the defender completely bamboozled. It is quite simply an incredible piece of skill, the likes of which should just never be seen in the Championship! Take a bow, son.
With the Delaney sending off we finally got the chance to have an extended look at Danny Gabbidon and happy to report that he has most definitely still got it. His distribution leaves a fair amount to be desired, but his all around defensive ability is Premier League class. One stand out piece of defending was displayed when a ball that was clipped to the back stick and James Vaughan seemed destined to get on the end of it, only for Danny to somehow get in front of the ex Palace man and nod the ball out for a corner. Losing Delaney for the Cardiff game is a blow, but Gabbidon is more than a sufficient replacement. It is funny how things work out in football. There is no way that Gabbidon would have started on Boxing Day against his former club. The footballing Gods, however, have made it so.
Man of the Match: Julian Speroni
Despite his blunder, the Man of the Match award can only go to one man. Without his stellar performance there wouldn’t have been a winning position to throw away and, as a goalkeeper, I can completely understand how the ball has managed to squirm past him in that situation.
There were three stand out saves in his performance, a penalty save and one absolute Worldy of a save.
Early on he flew away to his right to turn a James Vaughan header over the bar before he saved, an albeit soft, penalty. Just before half time he was leaping away to his left to turn a dipping shot from range over the crossbar and in the second half he denied a drilled effort from Southern, just getting the faintest of touches to send the ball over.
However, it is the save that he makes from Beckford in the first half that had me applauding for a good thirty seconds. Scannell, for once, produces a good cross to the near post where Beckford has pull off his man. His left footed effort is low and hard and back the way it came from and it has goal written all over it. Somehow, Speroni defies his momentum and gets down to turn the ball away. Any goalkeeper in the world would have been happy to pull off this save.
A strange one for me as I was in an “Executive” Box celebrating a birthday with a (football) friend. I put the word executive in quote marks as it is a word that should not exist in relation to what I experienced. I don’t want to slag off anything my club does, however, to have a TV that is not a flat screen, is only 17 inches and has fuzzy reception is just not on. Beyond that, I will not even get started on the manners of the stewards... felt like I was at a bloody away game!
Quality of the box aside, it was nice to watch a game from there as you get fantastic views of the Holmesdale and watching Block B bounce away from up there was brilliant.
I thought the Palace fans were superb and really got behind the team in a time of need. “Fek, the fans were on another level” said Yannick Bolasie on Twitter. High praise indeed!
As good a view as it was, however, I cannot wait to get back into Block B Row 25 on New Years Day.
With Cardiff winning we have now slipped to four points behind the leaders making Boxing Day an even bigger game than it already was. Christmas is a stressful time enough as it is! A huge shout out to everyone making the trip to the game and safe journeys to all.
Merry Christmas to one and all. EAGLES!