Palace 3-0 Derby
It just gets better and better. Crystal Palace dismantled Nigel Clough’s Derby County, with their gaffer admitting “they were just too good for us.” Murray grabbed another brace, his fourteenth and fifteenth goals of the season, seeing him score multiple goals in a game for the SIXTH time this season. Murray’s two goals sandwiched Andre Moritz’ third goal in as many games, assisted by none other than Glenn Murray.
Murray’s first goal saw him succeed where he failed against Peterborough seven days before, heading home a deep Yala Bolasie corner after 12 minutes. It was a carbon-copy of the chance that he headed over at London Road, but this time he made no mistake.
Murray then turned provider as he nodded down a diagonal ball, from Delaney, into the path of Moritz who finished well, especially considering that he slipped as he was shooting. Murray then put the gloss on the result, beating three before lifting the ball over the keeper and into the roof of the net.
We are now two points clear of Caridff at the top of the division, with Middlesbrough a further two points adrift after their loss in Wales. Further, we are now nine points clear of seventh place... which just happens to be occupied by our little rivals. Better still, we are now fourteen games unbeaten with 36 points from a possible 42. Champions form if I have ever seen.
Records continue to draw closer for Holloway’s team. This was our fifth win on the bounce, the first time we have achieved this in seven years. 8 wins in a row remains our club record, a record that we could equal with a victory over Brighton in two weeks... wouldn’t that be a great early Christmas present?! In terms of going unbeaten, if we avoid defeat in our next four games then we will equal the club record for longest run unbeaten, set back in the 1960’s! Even more ridiculously, Glenn Murray is on pace to challenge Peter Simpson’s most goals in a season record of 46 goals!!! Ok, I am getting a little carried away now. I will take on board the wise words of Holloway in his post match talk; “We’re trying to make a real challenge, but you can’t do it over night, you can’t do it in November, you have to be there at the end of May.”
What the rest of the division learned yesterday, and no one more than Derby, is that we are not a one man team. We, of course, already know this, however, this match saw it displayed in no uncertain terms. After his exploits for England in midweek, Wilfried Zaha had a relatively quiet game as Derby overloaded him with defenders. There were points at which four white shirts were chasing Wilf making it near on impossible for him to be effective.
With such intense concentration on Zaha, this opened up the rest of the pitch for us. From here it would be fair to assume that Bolasie would take up the mantle and exploit this extra space, however, it was Murray who put Derby to the sword. “For all the talk of the wide men, it was Murray who was the difference today... He gave Keogh and Buxton a torrid time” bemoaned Nigel Clough after the game. Funny how we can be a one man team and that one man not be the man who has scored 15 goals in 14 league games this season.
People are now fully aware of our credentials. Even Steve Claridge had to begrudgingly admit that “everyone is taking them (palace) very seriously now” on the Football League Show. This offers up a new test for our players as we will now be seen a major scalp. I worry not. Our players are adaptable and will be able to handle this added dimension. Ollie agrees; “No matter what game it is, these lads go about their business in a very, very professional manner and now matter what type of game it is. If it’s a fast flowing, open game we’ve got players who can deal with that. If we have to shut up shop and be resolute we’ve got players who can do that... it’s all about balance.”
Ollie is now starting to exert his influence on to the team, taking what Dougie started to the next level. For all of my getting carried away, I see no reason why we will not be up there come May.
I am strapped in and ready to enjoy the ride.
Man of the Match: Mile Jedinak
KG, Jonny Parr and Glenn Murray all put in great performances and could have all put in claims for the man of the match award if their performance came in any other game in the Championship this weekend. Unfortunately for them, Mile Jedinak played in this match.
I said after the game, to Mile, “Congratulations mate, I have been coming to Palace for sixteen years and your performance today was one of the greatest individual performances that I have ever seen from a Palace player.” His eyes widened and he was very thankful and humble in his response, “wow, thanks a lot mate!”
Now, I had more than a few beers in my system at the time of saying this so I have thought long and hard about my comment over the last twenty four hours. My conclusion, it wasn’t just the beer talking.
His performance was so completely and utterly dominant. I lost track of the amount of times that he executed perfect challenges before setting off a counter attack. This is nothing new, he does this every week, however, Derby had a lot of the ball yesterday, as much as 54% possession according to the BBC (although I have seen other reports suggest that we had 54%, so who knows) which meant that there were plenty of opportunities for Mile to tackle, and tackle he did. The Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the Wall of Ston... take your pick. He was as impassable as all of them.
Derby have their own young prodigy in Will Hughes and he is being looked as by Premier League clubs. I only hope, for Derby’s sake, that Mile remembered to take the youngster out of his pocket at the end of the match and returned him to the Derby County team bus.
In congratulating Mile at the end of the game I was pleased to see that a bottle of Champagne under his arm, meaning that he won the official man of the match award as well as my own. It is easy for people to look at the other end of the field towards a striker who is in red hot form and has banged in two goals and assisted the other. However, we know our football at Selhurst Park and know how to appreciate an exceptional defensive performance and that was exactly what we witnessed in this match from our very own Australian Jedi.
The Force is Strong in SE25!
On a personal note, this was a big day for my family. My two little sisters (aged 10 and 7 respectively) came to their first ever game at Selhurst Park. It was not their first Palace game as we took them to Nottingham Forest away last season, a day that they hated and ended up leaving the game at half time as the blokes in the row behind them screamed obnoxious words over and over again, terrifying them. Obviously, I have absolutely no problem with people screaming and shouting at games, it was more our bad planning that led to the girls hating the game.
So, to try and get them hooked it was important that they exorcised those Forest demons and enjoyed their first visit to Selhurst. Happily, they loved it! Sitting in the Arthur Wait, they were able to soak up the atmosphere created by the Holmesdale Fanatics and the Arthur Wait Massive from a safe distance and now they won’t stop singing the songs and talking about the day and when they can come next. We can add two more Palace fans to the Wolfpack.
Staying with the Holmesdale Fanatics, the back of the Holmesdale was like a flag art museum for the day as a range of the HF flags were on display. I thought that this was a really nice touch, especially the “Palace March On” flag that greeted everyone on the entrance to the stand (see picture). I hope to see this again this season so I can bring a proper camera and get some good pictures.
Back in the stands and the atmosphere was as electric as ever. From “Scoring Goals for Palace, Glenn Murray” to “Yannick Bolasie” it was another deafening display of noise with the “We Love You” after the second goal being perhaps the loudest that I have ever heard it. The day was then beautifully capped off with the entire stadium standing to “Stand up if you love Palace”.
There has not been a better time to be a Palace supporter in some 21 years so get down and support the boys. I want to see that attendance figure topping 20K before 2012 is over and done with. Click this link http://www.cpfctickets.com/seasontickets.aspx and get yourself a half season ticket. Best entertainment in town.
Dirty Leeds up next. It’s about time we won at Elland Road again.