Millwall 0-0 Palace
Crystal Palace and Millwall both took a step towards their end of season goals with this hard fought goalless draw. Chances were at a premium as nerves got to both sides with the finish line in sight. Victory for either would have meant a relaxing final day. Instead both teams go to the final day with their respective fates still unsure, yet still in their own hands.
The stats at the close of play showed that there were only six shots in the game total, however, stats sometimes deceive. The three best chances of the game all fell to Murray and on each occasions he failed to register a shot.
In the first half Zaha skinned his marker and drilled a beautiful low cross into the six yard box where Murray failed to make contact with the ball with his swinging right boot and the ball bounced harmlessly away off his standing foot. A magnificent pass from Owen Garvan.
Murray was then picked out with a magnificent pass from Owen Garvan, returning to the starting line up for the first time since December, and the league’s leading marksman tried to take a touch that was too heavy and ran through to the keeper. Earlier in the season Glenn hits this as he did versus Bristol City and Leeds.
Finally, in the second half Murray found himself closing in on the Millwall goal, twenty-five yards out with the keeper miles off his line. His first touch is poor and a defender gets back but still there is a chance to shoot and Murray once again tries to take a touch and this time the defender stops him.
His lack of confidence is evident in his decision making.
Damien Delany also went close when a corner landed at his feet only for the ball to squirm out of his feet meaning that he was stretching for the shot that he hit wide and only an exceptional stop denied a twenty-five yard thunderbolt from Bolasie.
“I don’t think we’re anything like we were a couple of weeks ago when everything was going wrong” said Holloway after the game when asked if he was concerned about our form heading, probably, into the Play Offs. Delaney and Gabbidon stood firm.
Essentially Holloway is correct. Our last two performances have been of a far higher standard. Our defence did a sterling job at dealing with the aerial assault offered by the home team. Long balls and throws were all that the home team had to offer and this type of game has been known to cause us problems this season. This time Delaney and Gabbidon stood firm and Millwall never once looked like scoring.
As for going forward, I cannot sit here and tell you that we are back to our free flowing best. If that was the case we would have brushed aside our neighbours by a two or three goal margin and we would be confirmed in the Play-Offs already. What I can tell you is that there are flashes of our early season forward play returning. We are starting to create clear goal-scoring chances but the finish at the end is just missing. This is considerably better than the final ball being missing that has often been the case in the last ten games. If we keep creating the type of chances we have been in the last two games, the goals will come.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night, besides the result, was the performance of KG. At Blackburn he looked to be practically back to his early season best. The weight he gained when injured at the AFCON is finally starting to disappear and he was everywhere that day. At The Den, whist his energy levels were still there, his distribution was quite frankly awful. Time and time again he was guilty of, along with Damien Delaney, giving possession away way too cheaply. At times the two of them were displaying passing that a schoolboy would have been ashamed of and it often broke up what was good momentum going forward. Enough on KG for now, look towards Flying High Mag for more from me on KG later this week.
There is no doubt that we are limping over the finish line. There is no doubt that we are limping over the finish line. Just take solace in the fact that the limp is not as pronounced as it once was. With a practical full squad to choose from things can turn around. A little luck and a lot of belief and I see no reason why it can’t.
Man of the Match: Mile Jedinak
I almost gave it to Joel Ward for another superb display, however, Mile was just phenomenal yet again and, for me, is a shoe-in for the Player of the Year award. Time and time again he broke up the play with ease and started us moving forward. His positional play is unlike any I have seen from a midfielder of his kind in a Palace shirt and his ability to take the ball off the toe of an attack is almost uncanny. Some may say Jedi-like... but not me.
At times incredible, from both sets of fans, but most of the time just straight nervous. It definitely lacked the spite that is usually present in this fixture. Saying that, the Palace fans did get through an array of songs whilst the home team proved that they still only have “one noise”. Muuuuuuuuuuuurrrr!
I do not need to bore you with the possible outcomes on Saturday. Win or Draw and we’re in. It’s in our own hands so let’s do it ourselves.