Palace 2-2 Leicester
Gabbidon (26), Dobbie (67)
King (37), Wood (73)
Sat 20th April 2013
Crystal Palace finally hit the back of the net after posting up eight hours worth of voluptuous zeros. Danny Gabbidon and Stephen Dobbie both gave Palace the lead only for further troubles at the other end which allowed Leicester City to equalise twice.
Gabbidon nodded home a Dobbie centre to break the duck before the goal-scorers error at the other end allow King to equalise before the break. The Eagles then showed great character to retake the lead as Dobbie, who was brilliant at times, finished off from the edge of the box after some great forward play from top scorer Murray.
With Palace looking set to hold the Foxes at bay yet another mistake at the back, this time from Delaney, allowed Chris Wood to get in on goal where the former Millwall man continued the recent trend of punishing Palace mistakes to the fullest.
Avoiding defeat and scoring a goal was what I was hoping for before the match.
Avoiding defeat and scoring a goal was what I was hoping for before the match. At the end of the match, I had my wish. Of course, the way the game went I was disappointed with the outcome. Leicester rarely looked threatening, unless of course we gifted them opportunities, and the chances we created should have been enough to see off the game. If only Wilbraham’s header, which cannoned back off the crossbar, was a foot lower and we would all be celebrating an almost guaranteed Pay Off place. Alas, Palace never do things the easy way.
Despite the two goals scored, it was not all rosy. Mistakes were still rampant. Constant misplaced passes, errors leading to goals and an often way too direct approach left a lot to be desired. On top of this, Zaha was so far below par it was embarrassing, Murray continued to look of the pace and temerarious challenge after temerarious challenge by KG epitomised his lack of fitness and form.
More on the direct approach. With Murray and Wilbraham up top we often resorted to long ball tactics. Both strikers won their fair share of headers, however, for long periods the wingers were not getting close enough to cause the away team problems in behind. The first goal, despite it being a super ball in from Dobbie, was scored from a long ball. The second goal was one of the few moments of quality displayed by the Eagles as Dobbie produced an excellent finish from just outside the area.
Should this more direct approach surprise us?
Should this more direct approach surprise us? Not really. Holloway said that we were going back to basics and at this level there is nothing more basic than long ball.
Our goal scoring problems have been as a result of our inability to keep the ball in the final third. Our attacking central midfielders are all out of form and Murray is often isolated. A good way to combat this would be to take the attacking midfielder out of the game and give us a bit of presence further up the field in the form of a target man. Playing a more direct style often kept Leicester deeper than they would want to play and as a result we nullified the attacking threats that they possess. Sure they scored twice, however, defensive errors were the reason for these goals. A more adept defensive display would have probably seen us see out the game. If Jedinak was on the pitch, this would have probably happened.
Joel Ward was nothing short of outstanding.
The positives? Marrow looked solid, Dobbie showed the class that he possesses and Joel Ward was nothing short of outstanding. The latter kept Dyer in his pocket like he was a wallet and managed to influence the game in the final third as well. Further, Dobbie looked unstoppable at times. His dribbling was often effective and his delivery was dangerous more often than not. He could have easily ended the game with a goal and three assists if Wilbraham had scored instead of hitting the bar and Kasper Schmeichel hadn’t pulled off a world class stop after a Dobbie cross was nearly headed in by a Leicester player. If Dobbie can find the sort of form that helped Blackpool and Swansea into the Premier League via the play offs then we have a big game payer on our hands.
With that elusive goal now under our belts, can we kick on and find the form that is required when heading into the play offs? This all depends on the desire offered up by our final three opponents. We are no strangers to relegation battles in recent seasons and we know what this can inspire within a group of average players.
If a battling Blackburn show up next week then it could be a very tough game. If the Blackburn that showed up at Watford yesterday face off against us then it could be a very easy three points. The same goes for the Millwall and Peterborough games. At times this season they have all displayed brilliance, yet consistency has been a problem for all three clubs. Earlier in the season I would have been confident that we could easily pick up nine points from these three games. At the moment, we could take anywhere from zero to nine points and after seeing every Palace game this season I really cannot offer you an accurate estimate. Some may say that this is what makes supporting the RedNBlueArmy such a wonderful thing.
Man of the Match: Joel Ward
A close run thing between Joel and Dobbie. I think that it was an interesting decision to take Dobbie off as he was a constant threat. The fact that he was removed and that Ward was able to be so impressive over the full ninety minutes sway’s the decision in his favour. Dyer will not want to see the former Portsmouth man again anytime soon.
I was surprised, and upset, to hear Holloway say at the end of the game that he thought we were quieter than usual! At points the noise was deafening and the whole of the stadium was in unison in song, backing the team to the hilt. The post second goal celebrations produced one of the best atmosphere’s I have heard for a while and only yet another defensive error sucked the life out of a vibrant Selhurst Park.
Next up, Blackburn. A big game for both clubs for very different reasons. We need to try and turn our away form around and bring back three points from Lancashire otherwise we will be heading to The Den needing three points that they will not be wanting to give us.
Times are nervy and stress is rampant but this is nothing that a win could not resolve. Keep believing! Come on you Palace!