Palace 2-2 Millwall
It would appear that going two nil up at Selhurst Park is a curse at the moment. For the third game running a team has failed to hold on for a win after taking a two nil lead and for the first time Crystal Palace were the team who threw the lead away. Although, “handed a draw to Millwall” would probably be a better way to sum it up.
A second of instinctive madness saw Dean Moxey dismissed for stopping a certain goal with his hand, giving Millwall 50 minutes to get back into the game versus ten men which eventually saw them overturn the two goal deficit and earn one of the best points that they will get all season long.
Before we get onto the Moxey incident, I want to talk about the game as if it ended just before the red card (I do like ifs and buts). When both sides had eleven players on the field there was only one team in it. We quite simply destroyed them. If the game would have continued eleven vs eleven there is no doubt that Palace would have gone on to win the game comfortably.
Millwall could not live with Zaha and Bolasie and Owen Garvan was picking them apart with a relentless array of passing. From the get go Zaha was flying past defenders and set up Murray who almost hooked us into a lead with a standing overhead effort in the opening five minutes. He then laid on a chance for KG but the South African midfielder could not make a true connection with his left footed effort from close range.
The only surprise pre the hand of Mox was that it took us so long to open the scoring. When we eventually did take the lead, in the thirty-fifth minute, we were treated to an absolute peach. The ball found its way out to Mile Jedinak in a central area where he had all the time in the world to line up a shot. With three sides of Selhurst Park yelling “SHOOOOOOOOT” the Australian let fly from thirty-five yards and watched as the ball flew into the bottom right hand corner. The skipper wheeled away, slapping the captain’s armband on his arm with what can only be described as a slightly unbelieving smile on his face.
Before the post goal excitement had even died down it was two! Better still, it came from a very unlikely source. I am not talking about Damien Delaney! He scored last week and looks like he might be chipping in with a few more this season. The un-likeliness of the goal is that it came from a cross from a set piece! Garvan whipped in a free kick and Delaney smashed a bullet header into the top corner.
The only worry for Palace at this point was Taylor on the right flank for Millwall. Making his debut after his move from Oldham, the winger tormented our left hand side when he got the opportunity, however, Ramage and Delaney were handling anything that he threw into the box... at least until the forty-first minute. A Taylor cross was cleared to the opposite flank and as the ball came back in Henderson lost his marker and climbed highest to head goalwards.
Now, this is where the game changes and sends a section of Palace fans into inexcusable crazyland!
What Moxey did would have been done by most players on the pitch and fans in attendance. It was pure instincts and he cannot/should not be blamed for it! The fact that people have then taken to Twitter to verbally abuse him is inexcusable. Example below:
@B_Moore_22 writes: @therealmox_21 I don't need to tell you how much of a cunt you are as you probably already know!
@adamrjamccarthy writes: @therealmox_21 u idiot
@nick_cridland writes: @therealmox_21 prick
@nessling1985 writes: So pissed off was all over the scum looked so easy but @therealmox_21 fucked it all up for us complete twat #drophim
@sambobevan writes: @therealmox_21 nice one dick head
@Mattswallow_ writes: @therealmox_21 fucking div
Lewis Cooke @lcooke18 writes: @therealmox_21 thanks for costing us the game #idiot
In the split second in which Deano had to make his decision to handle the ball, there is no way that he had time to weigh up the pros and cons of letting the ball go in. Defenders have one thought in their minds for the ninety minutes they are on the field... do not let the ball go into the goal at all costs.
Before the referee had even shown him the red card, Deano had realised that he had made a huge error in judgement. He is a great professional and will be punishing himself enough for the mistake. What he does not need is twats like the people mentioned above dishing out abuse. To go as far as calling him a cunt is disgusting.
If people analyse the situation properly it should be Speroni on the receiving end of the abuse. What is he doing? He had the jump on Henderson, gets there first yet misses the ball as he tries to punch it. If Speroni doesn’t make such a ludicrous error, Moxey doesn’t get the opportunity to handle the ball.
Please people, think before you tweet and especially do not tweet if you are drunk.
Obviously I do not need to describe the rest in detail. Millwall went on to grab a late equaliser and pretty much over run Palace in the second half. Sure there is a debate on whether we should have had two penalties and whether or not Ramage was fouled, allowing the equaliser to go in. I do not want to dwell on these as it will inevitably lead to me discussing Phil Dowd, the referee, in length and that is just what he would want. Ten yellow cards and one red gets him all the attention he wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is at home right now Googling his name and congratulating himself on all of the abuse he is getting for his shocking performance. A terrible ref who should not be allowed anywhere near a Championship game.
What I do want to talk about is why Millwall was able to control the second half so easily.
Often, teams with ten men are still able to pose a threat, especially when graced with as much pace as we are, however, Palace were not able to put together any counter attacks of note after the sending off. Considering that we counter attack so well with eleven men, it seems strange that we could not muster one up with ten men.
The reason why we failed to do so was that we could not get Zaha on the ball enough.
Bolasie saw a fair amount of ball in the second half as Blake, and Ward when he replaced Blake, were calm in their distribution and looked to continue to play as if we had eleven men by sticking to the game plan and passing to Yannick.
The story on the left hand side of the pitch was, unfortunately, not the same. Parr hoofed clearances into touch over and over again, effectively isolating one of the biggest threats to the opponent’s goal in the entire division. There is no way that Millwall had pressuring Parr to stifle supply to Zaha as a game plan as the pressure on him was only ever light. I think it just comes down to the form that Parr is exhibiting. He is certainly not showing the sort of form that won him Player of the Year last season and needs to step his game up. Sure he is not getting as much game time as he might like, however, it could be argued that neither is Garvan yet he manages to produce when he is drafted back into the starting eleven. The bar has been raised at Palace this season and everyone needs to rise up to meet it.
Further, the problem down the left flank was two-fold and I believe that the England Under 21 game in Serbia is to blame.
Not once in the second half did Wilfried Zaha switch flanks with Bolasie. This is unheard of this season which leads me to believe that Freedman was protecting Wilf from more abuse from the away fans... switching Zaha with Bolasie would have seen Wilf having to run up the line directly in front of the Millwall fans.
I was sat next to Dougie at the Vice Presidents Annual Dinner on Thursday night and he was telling me who Wilf “didn’t feel like playing” after he and his team mates were on the receiving end of monkey chants by the Serbian fans in the warm up to the game on Tuesday night. He went on to talk about how unlike Wilf this was and that is was sad to see him like this.
I am not suggesting that the Millwall fans would have racially abused Wilf, I don’t think that at all. However, they would have got on his back and maybe Dougie just didn’t want him to experience such hostility such a short time after the Serbia game.
Unfortunately, this unwillingness to switch Zaha and Bolasie probably cost us a shot of nicking a goal on the break, however, in the long run this could be a good thing as protecting Zaha as much as we can is very important after such a traumatic experience. It is a long season and a point after going down to ten men is not an awful result.
Things that we must remember is that we are still unbeaten, Dougie is still unbeaten in derbies and that our team actually performed well defensively despite having a man sent off and a man hauled off (Blake) because of injury. On top of all this, we are FOURTH in the league. Sure, we were this high up in the table at this point last season only to fall away from November onwards... somehow I do not see that happening this season.
Man of the Match: Damien Delaney
Before the sending off, Owen Garvan was strutting his stuff and was a shoe in for this award. Alas, the sending off did occur and Delaney proceeded in marshalling the troops to a very creditable point and he grabbed a goal to boot.
A typical derby atmosphere, well, on our side at least. The Millwall fans were shocking, however, this is not surprising considering the footballing lesson that their team were getting. The ”South London is Ours!” chant at kick off was deafening and the noise created throughout the first half was amazing.
Alan Dunne did not escape abuse from the Palace faithful after his ramblings in the press in the build up to the game about how good the Millwall fans are compared to the Palace fans and so on. The chant of “Old Jimmy Saville, he fucked Alan Dunne” may be the liking of some and not others; however, it did the job, however, as Dunne run around like a headless chicken after, getting himself booked in the process.
Holmesdale Fanatics pre-match Display
Then we have the pre match display by the HF (see picture, right). The Millwall fans have talked a lot of rubbish about how they do not care and so on, however, the fact that one Millwall fan went onto Holmesdale.net and posted a 1000 word piece on how they are not bothered. That’s a lot of denial! More great work from the lads.
Barnsley are up next. Always a tough place for us in the past but I think we could be exorcising those demon’s this season. EAGLES!