Forest 2-2 Palace
As Billy Sharp equalised in the 93rd minute I had to check that it was Glenn Murray that we had up front and not Bill Murray as it feels like Groundhog Day at the moment. Crystal Palace twice led at the “World Famous” City Ground only to be pegged back in injury time of each half. Holloway’s men have now led in each of the last five games and failed to pick up a victory (four draws and one defeat).
Glenn Murray gave the Eagles a deserved lead in the 9th minute as a well worked moved culminated in a low Dean Moxey cross to the back stick that was converted by the Championship’s top scorer. This sparked the home team into life and only another world class save, finger-tipping a Sharp header onto the post, by Speroni kept the Eagles ahead.
The Argentinean was helpless to stop that equaliser as a rasping drive twenty-five yard drive from the much berated Andy Reid (You fat bastard) flew in off the post. This came as the two minutes stoppage time was announced, however, three minutes later play was still going and only a last ditch Peter Ramage block kept the scores level.
The second half proved to be an end to end affair with Forest creating the better chances as Palace wasted several great positions when getting to the byline only to pull back poorly on each occasion. With Speroni in inspired form yet again the game looked set to head for a draw, one I would have been happy with. However, with nine minutes left on the clock a moment of magic from Glenn Murray gives Palace the lead with one of the best headers you are likely to see.
KG managed to lift a difficult bouncing ball towards the back stick after some poor Forest defending on our right. The shape of the ball means that there is no chance for Murray to create any power. Or so I thought. With one snap of the neck he manages to get the power he needs to loop the ball over Lee Camp and into the far corner to send the travelling support absolutely bonkers.
At this point I am thinking that we have turned a corner. Finally it is us that has scored the late goal and it IS going to be the goal that sees us get back to winning ways and kick on to great things in 2013. Alas, it was not to be.
Yet more poor defending sees us concede. A long ball to the edge of the box is flicked down to Sharp who slots the ball past Speroni, the ball comes back off the post but Sharp reacts quickest to tap home the rebound. The error in defence comes out of a lack of communication between Gabbidon and Ramage. Ramage has to look at Gabbidon to see if he is going to challenge before he steps out and challenges himself, when realising that Gabbidon is staying at home. By this time the Forest player has the jump on him and he has no chance of winning the ball. This exposes the lack of leadership that we possess in the centre of our defense and, arguably, wouldn't have happened if Delaney was in the team.
Talking of poor defending, there is a trend that I have noticed since the injury to Joel Ward. This has proved unpopular with anyone that I have discussed this with in person as everyone seems to love him, however, the weak link is Jonny Parr. I have got wrapped up in the blood and guts type performance that he always puts in and as a result I have not questioned his place in the team. It was the Huddersfield game that led me into looking at the goals we have conceded of late and a large majority of them are as a result of absolutely shocking positional sense from our reigning ‘Player of the Season.’ He ball chases with no awareness of what might be happening around him and as a result we are getting stretched and conceding goals. With Yala and Wilf on each flank, there is not going to be an over abundant amount of help for the full backs so positional sense is key and Parr just does not possess it. Look at Andy Reid’s goal. Parr has no idea whether he should close down the fat boy or pick up the runner and in the end he does neither.
To compound this, his delivery in the final third was shocking against Forest. Three times he got to the byline, right next to the six yard box sideline, and tamely passed the ball to the Forest keeper. After a few good performances earlier in the season, his standards have slipped and it is essential for us that he picks them back up.
After the Daily Mail article from yesterday it would be impossible not to talk about Wilfried Zaha. There have been signs in the last two games that he may be getting back towards some kind of form, however, it was essentially another below par performance against Forest. His first touch was often off and he still appears to have no confidence when running at defenders. On top of this, the above article sees him talking about being open to a move in January leading everyone to believing that a move is all but done and this is why his performances have been far from what we expect from him. I don’t believe that (whether that is because I don’t WANT to believe it, I am not sure). Wilf has always been a form player. He starts the season well, has a shitty middle and a great end. The form will return and all of the people saying that we should sell him in January will be back to saying that we should keep him at all costs.
The main problem comes in the simple requirement from a fan that a player must want to play for your club. We are a means to end for Wilf. Hopefully the day will come that we are more than a means to an end for a wonderkid from our academy but we are not there yet. We know that Wilf will eventually move on to bigger things. Under Freedman it was only ever going to happen when Wilf was ready and he seemed fine with that. Since the departure of Freedman his attitude has completely changed and now he believes all of the hype and seems in a rush to get to the Premier League.
The Premier League is a harsh place and he could end up spending a lot of time bench warming. If that is what he wants at this stage of his career then so be it. I am not sure, however, that he knows that this could be the case. There certainly appears to have been a communication breakdown since Dougie moved north and Wilf could end up making a tremendous mistake by rushing his development.
What will be will be in January and whether he stays or goes, I will forever be proud of what he has achieved and what we as a club have achieved in facilitating the development of such a great prospect. Needless to say, lay off of giving him abuse on Twitter.
I digress! We are supposed to be talking about the Forest game. As I said above, at 1-1 I would have been more than happy with the point. Forest were always in the game and created some very good chances. Once we take the lead in the last ten minutes we have to see it out, especially if we want to be at the top end of the table come May. The four points we have now dropped against Forest this season, all winnable, could prove the difference between a play off place and automatic promotion.
Man of the Match: Glenn Murray
What a performance. He managed the poor conditions expertly and notched up another two goals, taking him to twenty-two for the season. More than he could have possibly dreamed of scoring in the entire season back in August.
All that Glenn Murray is about is displayed in the first goal. A difficult ball is played into him, forty yards from goal, yet he controls perfectly with his back to goal whilst holding off a defender and lays the ball to Moritz. As Moritz plays a lovely ball between the full back and centre back with the outside of his boot to find Moxey, Glenn has spun and bust a gut to get to the back post to slide home Deano’s cross.
As well as being the focal point of our attack, Glenn is also a fantastic defender. He is always pressing high up the field, forcing the opposition into mistakes and when he is forced back into his own eighteen yard box to defend a corner he is one of the best defenders of a corner that I have ever seen, including defenders!
The man is an absolute hero and I really hope that we can keep hold of him in January.
According to Steve Parrish, on Twitter, 1800 Palace fans attended the match. Considering pitch inspections and the subsequent doubt that this fixture would even take place, this is a great effort from the Palace faithful. Good conditions would have certainly seen this figure top 2000... and all of this whilst we are in the middle of a ‘long’ winless streak.
The atmosphere itself was up and down. At times it was electric, however, with the lack of a HF presence it was a little quiet in the periods that the game was going against us. This is the time that we need to sing for the players.
It is never easy in the Championship. When playing 17th place we should be expecting a win, however, that team is Wolves, proving just how difficult it can be. Their away form is unpredictable with five wins, seven loses and zero draws. If they are looking for their first away draw of the season, they are coming to the right place! I kid! COME ON YOU PALACE!