Derby 0-1 Palace
Julian Speroni saved a late Connor Salmon penalty to seal Crystal Palace’s first away win since November 10th. Yannick Bolasie’s third goal of the season was somehow the only goal of the game as efforts frequently rained in on goal only to find the keepers in good form.
There was a certain element of luck to the Palace winner. Mile Jedinak put in a block deep in our own half and the ball rebounded the length of the field putting Bolasie through one on one. This is where the luck stopped and the brilliance starts. Yala’s first touch was brilliant, sucking the keeper out into no-man’s-land where he rounded him and smashed the ball high into the roof of the net over the despairing dive of the covering defender.
Dobbie missed a good chance to open the scoring after being put through on goal by Yala and moments after the opener Palace went close to doubling the lead. Jedinak let fly from range only for his effort to cannon back off the cross bar. From that point on, however, we had to settle for the odd chance on the break as Derby really took the game to us.
Unfortunately for Nigel Clough’s men they found Speroni in exceptional form. The only time they managed to get the ball past him the cross bar came to the rescue as the first half drew to a close. His only one save of note came as the inform Ward volleyed towards the bottom corner only for the Argentine to get low down to his right and turn the ball out for a corner.
It was the second half where Seproni really excelled. With the goal at his mercy, after former Palace loanee Chris Martin had fashioned a superb opening, Salmon looked set to equalise only to be foiled by a point blank by Jules.
Speroni had more to do before the late penalty kick. This time Coutts cut in from the right and drilled in a low shot towards the far corner. Julian flew away to his right and pushed the ball away, making sure that the hand he got on it was strong enough to push it away from the onrushing Derby players.
Then came the penalty save.
Despite all of the papers reporting that Jedinak that gave away the penalty it was most certainly not him. Delaney put his foot in when the player was already going down and the referee did what he had been dying to do all night and gave Derby a big decision. Up stepped Connor Salmon who smashed the ball just left of centre where he finds the elbow of Speroni. The ball flies up and onto the cross bar and out for a corner. Then, just to make sure, Jules comes out and claims the corner, producing a deafening roar from the away end.
"We can't ask much more from the players, not just the effort but the level of performance. To come off without so much as a point for our efforts is very harsh on the players.” For once this type of sentence was not coming from the lips of Ian Holloway. This was Nigel Clough’s summing up of the game, a summing up that we have been used to away from home in recent months.
There is no doubt that we were very lucky to win this game, however, this once again adds to my belief that we are going to nick second place in the league. A good run of form/results has to go hand in hand with having the rub of the green. Penalty saves, great last ditch blocks, a block tackle that ends up as the perfect 70 yard through ball. These little rubs of the green are exactly what we need. They had deserted us in recent weeks yet now they are returning and so will the positive results.
Man of the Match: Julian Speroni
Only on choice, for all of the reasons mentioned above. He was simply brilliant.
Delaney and Ramage both had superb games. Last ditch blocks, towering headers and a never say die attitude that enabled us to keep Derby at bay. On any other day it would have been difficult to choose between the two. On this day, Julian stole the show.
The turnout was good from the Palace fans, undeterred by the Friday night fixture, and we were in good voice. Meanwhile, away to our right, a small portion of Derby fans embarrassed themselves with a drum. At one point they started singing “we love you” and couldn’t even finish it, then they had the cheek to try and ironically cheer us when we sang it, loudly three times through.
The song of the game has to be the one sang at the very end. As Speroni eventually made his way over to the Palace fans, definitely milking it by making sure that he was the last to arrive... but who wouldn’t. The entire away end was on its feet, singing the name of the Crystal Palace legend. What a hero.
Next up we have the biggest game of the season to date. Hull have just put Birmingham to the sword, scoring five. Automatic promotion aspirations means that defeat is completely unacceptable. A draw and it’s as you were. A win, then we can all start getting carried away again!