Palace 2-1 Charlton
A second half Glenn Murray double saw Palace overturn a one nil half time deficit and get Palace back to winning ways. Ricardo Fuller gave the Clowns the lead on fifteen minutes only for the Championship top scorer to score twice in four second half minutes to cap a sensational turn around.
Sensational might seem a bit over top for the smallest of comebacks but at half time we were dead and buried in all but the score line. The Clowns were running riot and our midfield, minus the broken Mile Jedinak the African Nations exiled KG the Brazilian maestro Andre Moritz and the mad Irishman Owen Garvan, could not get us a foothold in the match and suddenly it was like watching Palace under Burley, yet somehow worse.
“What did you expect... the whole middle was uncoordinated” said Holloway. A central midfield that has never played together is always going to struggle against a team that has won three of the last four matches. Marrow, O’Keefe and Butterfield filled the positions in the middle of the park. Marrow and O’Keefe came off in a lot better light than Butterfield. The man on loan from Norwich had an absolute mare and was unsurprisingly subbed at half time. His replacement, Kevin Phillips, was the start of the dramatic improvement in team performance.
As the transfer window came to a close, a large section of Palace fans berated CPFC2010 for the lack of a major signing. Pictures of old man adorned the social networking sites with everyone suggesting that Kevin Phillips is past it. “Kevin Phillips is just a master-class” oozed Holloway after the veteran emerged from the bench to tilt the game in our favour. All of a sudden we were a threat in the final third and the instant understanding between Murray and Phillips was scary and, ultimately, more than the visitors could handle.
The second piece of business on deadline day saw us bring in Stephen Dobbie in on loan from Brighton. There is no denying that Dobbie flopped at the Weed. As a result pretty much every Palace fan has written Dobbie off before he has even kicked a ball and are once more slagging off the chairman for yet another terrible signing. Dobbie replaced Bolasie in the 67th minute and the tilt that had started with the introduction of Kevin became a full blown landslide. His ball retention and dribbling skills were immense and his creativity was superb. As a result we were able to get our more dangerous players on the ball more often and cause untold amounts of trouble for the Clowns.
The 67th minute also saw the introduction of Jonny Williams and for the first time since his return from injury, Williams showed the form that he had started to show before he suffered his broken leg. What a performance from the youngster. When we took the lead we managed to waste out full minutes by giving him the ball and letting him run away from Charlton. They could not get near him and could only foul him when they did.
Talking of time wasting, Hamer would fit right in at Huddersfield. From the moment they took the lead he looked like he was taking a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll when he on the ball. After the time wasting up in Yorkshire on Wednesday night I had pretty much shouted myself hoarse by half time in venting my fury at the Clowns stopper. Then imagine my joy upon taking the lead at watching Hamer run as if in fast forward. It culminated in a ball ending up in the Holmesdale, a ball that did not come back. He waved furiously to the sideline for a new one and when it arrived, the other ball came flying out of the Holmesdale. Hamer turned and lashed the ball as high and as far as he could, sending the stadium in to mocking raptures.
Back to the game and I will start with the first half. Short of a spectacular bicycle kick effort from Bolasie, we did not trouble the Charlton goal at all. At the other end, Jackson wasted two glorious chances and only a smart piece of keeping from Speroni stopped Pritchard from putting the game to bed.
Within a minute of the restart, Murray and Phillips combined to find Zaha who curled an effort with the outside of his right boot a whisker wide. Fuller, who became the second ex Palace player to score against us this week, had one last chance to get the visitors two ahead but his effort from twenty five yards was turned over by Jules and they did not get another sniff. Phillips saw Hamer save well as he latched onto a Glenn Murray knock down and O’Keefe sent the ball just over with a diving header after superb wing play from Zaha.
Then came the goals. First, Moxey laid on his five goal of the season as his early pass into Murray allowed the striker to turn and fire left footed into the bottom corner. It had been coming. What was then impressive was the want and desire to go on and get the winner.
Dobbie unleashed a rasping drive from thirty yards only for Hamer to again save well. From the resulting corner the ball is only half cleared and Jazz Richards, making his home debut, clipped in a beautiful diagonal pass over the heads and in behind the defence. Hamer started to come for the ball and changed his mind only to slip, Murray pulled the ball down with a touch that anyone in the world would have been proud of and smashed the ball, left footed again, past the scrambling Hamer to send Selhurst Park mental. Not even the constant stream of flares and smoke bombs in the away end could rescue Charlton now.
In the Huddersfield match report I talked about Holloway wanting to stamp his style of play on the team. I said that it was key that he signed the right players before the window closed. Players that knew how to implement what he was trying to do. What is integral to his style is wingers ghosting into central area. Just look at how many goals Thomas Ince scored under Holloway through this tactic. Zaha and Bolasie have not seemed to be able to grasp this idea. Dobbie, on the other hand, knew exactly what was required of him in the wide position and influenced the game greatly. Then we had Phillips who managed to bring Murray into the game with his great movement and intelligence, allowing the most deadly man in the Championship the chances to get back into scoring ways.
To all those that were starting to doubt Holloway. You may need to think again.
Keep the faith.
Man of the Match: Ian Holloway
It was hard for me to pick between Delaney, Murray or any of the three substitutes that came on in the second half.
So, the award goes to Holloway. It started with rightly dropping Parr for Moxey, who went on to get an assist, and finished with three brilliant substitutions and a formation change that won us the game and, quite possibly, transformed our season.
Incredible. Even when our backs were against the wall in the first half we were loud. Then we saw the noise build and build in the second right up to the deafening noise that accompanied the last fifteen minutes of the game. “Scoring goals for Palace” was a stand out for me. In a week that saw the man who that song previously belonged to destroy his Palace legacy with one swing of the elbow, it felt good to sing it at our new hero.... and let’s face it, Murray does actually score goals, unlike Alan Lee.
Watford up next. This is where Palace fans always perform best. If we can sing the boys onto three points, we will know that we are back on track.