Palace 2-2 Dirty Leeds
Murray 27′, 84′
Morison 56′, 69′
Sat 9th March 2013
Glenn Murray equalised late with his thirtieth goal of the season to take Crystal Palace to within a point of the automatic promotion places. The Eagles dominated for large periods but a spirited display from the visitors saw them come from behind to take the lead before the country’s top scorer rescued a point.
Murray had put the home side ahead with his twenty-ninth of the season in the twenty-seventh minute, nodding home a beautifully clipped Jonny Williams cross at the back stick. Former Millwall front man Steve Morison then scored twice before Murray expertly volleyed home an inch perfect Damien Delaney cross.
The league’s top marksman’s wonderful strike was not the main talking point at full time, however. Ian Holloway fully lost the plot at full time as yet another inept refereeing display, this time from Mr Whitestone, cost us the opportunity to win the game. His beef was with the decisions surrounding Luke Varney and the referee’s shyness to use the cards in his pocket.
Mr Whitestone, you have had a mare son.
Varney was booked for diving, however, before this he had jumped off the ground and gone through the back of Jonny Williams. This challenge was a borderline red card yet the referee decided against even booking the former Charlton man. Then Varney has gone straight through the back of Dobbie and again the referee awards the foul but does not produce the second booking that Varney so clearly deserved. On top of all this, Ramage ended with four stitches in his forehead after jumping for a header with Varney. Mr Whitestone, you have had a mare son.
Diabolical refereeing aside, was this a point gained or two points dropped? With all of the sides around us (Watford, Leicester and Brighton) all losing, it certainly feels like an opportunity missed. A win would have seen us leapfrog Hull and Watford and move up into second. I have a theory, however, that this may not have been such a great thing.
“Have you gone mad?” I hear you cry. Well, no. There is rational thought behind this and here goes. Earlier in the season after we stormed up the league to claim top spot, it all started to go a bit wrong for us and we slipped down to fifth in the league after a series of disappointing results. It was as if claiming top spot allowed us to believe our own hype and the intensity that saw us climb the league disappeared.
Body on the line.
That intensity has returned in recent weeks and team spirit is ridiculously high. Nothing sums this up more than the series of events at the end of the first half. Green gets through with a brilliant touch and sees his shot saved by Speroni. The ball rebounds across goal and Varney is running in to tap home the equaliser only for a combination of KG, Jedinak and Delaney to fly across the goal and block the former Clowns effort. Full on ‘body on the line’ stuff, showing a great desire to win.
I fear that once we get back into the automatic promotion places this intensity may slip once more. The carrot of second place is dangling in front of us and our team spirit works better when chasing this carrot as opposed to being the carrot. In an ideal world, I would like to snatch second place at the last possible opportunity, preferably with a last day win over Posh.
Challenge of being chased.
Of course this may not happen. As I said in the Hull City match report, I think that the wheels are starting to come off for Hull and Watford. After everything going their way in the last ten games or so, poor results and doubt looks to be creeping in at Vicarage Road and the KC Stadium. Watford have since thrown away a half time lead to lose at home to a very average Blackpool team and Hull have a very tricky trip to Burnley on Monday night, a team that has started to find form again after a dip. By default of Hull and Watford dropping points we may just end up in second place within the next couple of weeks and we will have to see if our team spirit can deal with the challenge of being chased instead of chasing.
Now let’s take a look at yesterday’s performance. The only problem going forward was not putting the ball in the back more than twice. We never looked bereft of ideas and all of the usual creativity we have become accustomed to at Selhurst Park this season was there. We have now scored FORTY-SEVEN goals in the league at home this season. This is astounding for two reasons. For starters, we have scored more goals at home than any other team in England, which is no mean feat. Second, we have now scored more goals in nineteen home games this season than we managed in all forty-six games of last season which is, quite frankly, ridiculous!
The only problem with our performance was a couple of defensive errors. Delaney ruined what was a fabulous performance with terrible positioning for the first, somehow falling several yards behind the defensive line, allowing the forward running Leeds player to get in behind and create the equaliser. Then Ramage made a complete hash of what should have been a routine header by misreading the flight of the ball, allowing Morison in behind to give Leeds the lead. It’s hard to be hard on Ramage and Delaney. They have consistently performed far above what we could have dared to dream and it is just very unfortunate that two such costly errors occurred in the same game.
Man of the Match: Glenn Murray
Delaney was nailed on to win it until the error. He then assisted a goal to make up for his error but it is just not quite enough to win him the award this time. Jedinak and Zaha also deserve honourable mentions as does Jonny Parr, someone I am usually very critical of.
However, big Glenn takes the award this week. Thirty goals is an amazing achievement and with nine games to go he genuinely could get close to forty. Meanwhile down on the coast, Gus Poyet still believes that Murray wasn’t good enough for a pay rise. Hopefully Glenn will score for the fourth time against Brighton next week to stick it to Gus some more.
Disappointing that the attendance just missed the 20k mark by just twenty four people but the noise in Selhurst was tremendous. The large travelling support offered a fair amount of noise, especially when they took the lead, however, we did what we do and roared our team back into the game and did all that we could to try and will in the winner. We now have eight days to rest our throats before the big one next Sunday. Bring on the Brighton.