Posh 1-2 Palace
For the best part of eighty minutes it looked like it was just not going to happen for Crystal Palace. Posh keeper Olejnik was in inspired form and looked set to earn his team a shock win, however, the Eagles’ never say die attitude saw them turn the game around in the space of three, late, minutes.
Grant McCann gave the home side an unexpected lead in the sixth minute as Palace fan George Boyd found some space in the box with a neat bit of skill. His shot was blocked by Ramage but the ball fell straight into the path of McCann who scored past Palace for the second season running at London Road. That was his first goal in a year! He must be thinking “can I play you every week!”
From then on in it was the Olejnik show as he denied Palace over and over. The pick of his saves saw him fly away to his left to finger tip over a rasping Glenn Murray shot that was bound for the top corner.
For all of his heroics, ultimately they were as pointless as Adrian Durham as there was nothing that the Austrian could do to prevent, what Holloway calls, “the grinding machine” turning the result on its head. Moritz drilled home the equaliser, a fizzing left footed drive across the keeper and in of the far post, after being released by a perfectly waited reverse pass from Wilbraham who was thrown on at 1-0 to try and help Palace salvage a result.
Then Wilfried Zaha added to his reputation by running the length of the field before releasing Dikgacoi who made no mistake of slotting the ball home to send the terraced away end totally banana’s and Crystal Palace back to the top of the league.
On another day we could have run away with this game and registered a cricket score. Zaha and Bolasie were, what is becoming a popular word at Palace at the moment, unplayable and Murray looked as dangerous as ever and must still be wondering how he did not increase his already impressive goal tally.
The fact that we did not run away with the game allowed us to learn another valuable lesson about our table toppers. We already know that we can come back from defeats. Four defeats in a row to a thirteen game unbeaten run shows that we have nothing to worry about when that illusive defeat does eventually come.
We have come from behind to win on four occasions this season (five including the comeback at Exeter in the CO Cup) so we know that we refuse to believe that we are beaten. These are two very valuable characteristics for a team to possess through a long Championship season.
What we learned on Saturday is that we have the patience that is required when things are not going our way. The referee had a shocker and their keeper played a blinder which meant that for a very long time, it look like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon. However, we stuck to our guns, continued to trust our style of play and placed faith in the players who make a difference for us and the result eventually came as a result. Further, we were absolutely ruthless in going on to win the game. We could have settled for the point but instead went straight for the jugular and sealed the three points that we deserved.
I am sat here, twenty-four hours after our victory, writing this with a big smile on my face as I am trying to come up with a case against us potentially winning the league... I cannot find one. We possess all of the above mentioned attributes, one of, if not the best, starting eleven in the division and most definitely the best player in the division in Wilfried Zaha. All of this builds a case that would be titled, 2012-13 League Champions.
I will wind myself in a bit now and play devil’s advocate. What we don’t know is what would happen if a key player was to get injured? For example, Glenn Murray. He is the focal point of our attacking play and does a lot more for the team and the shape of the team than most people realise. He is so much more than just his goals as his hold up play is integral to bringing the wingers into play and his high work rate means that the opposition defenders are always on edge as they do not have a seconds rest. One can be excused for getting a little worried yesterday when he stayed down after a challenge and then hobbled for a good two minutes after. Thankfully he was fine so we do not have to cross that bridge just yet and (touch wood) we will never get close to even seeing that bridge.
The key to us maintaining an automatic promotion push is this. Mile Jedinak, Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray must all play a minimum of 35 games each. If they can stay injury free and play a majority of the season then great things WILL happen. If one or more of these players does not play 35 games this season, then we are entering into the unknown as our squad depth will be tested. We shall have to wait and see.
As it stands at the moment, we are on a high and there is absolutely no reason why this cannot continue. I can only imagine how well half season ticket sales are going!
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
I find it very difficult to give Zaha the man of the match award. A standard Zaha performance is enough to win him man of the match in every game, so he has to be extra special on the day to win.
This match saw the birthday boy produce that little bit of ‘extra special’ required. His second half performance was out of this world. His assist for the winner was insane! In the 82nd minute he was able to sprint the length of the field, beat the only man who got close to him and then find the perfect pass. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the run was that KG managed to keep up with him, which speaks volumes about his engine!
However, it was a near miss that sealed it for me. During our constant barrage of the Posh goal he was an inch away from scoring the greatest individual goal that I would have ever seen live. He beat six men, displaying incredible strength along with quick feet that are on a level with any other player in the world one would care to mention, before firing just wide. Twice during this run it looked like there were just too many players in front of him, yet he managed to find a way through and if his shot had crept into the corner, instead of sliding just wide, I would have probably given up on football as it would just never have gotten better than that.
20 years old. £20m. The world is at the boys feet.
WOW! Absolutely stunning!
Despite going behind early and seeing effort after effort saved, the fans continued to sing their hearts out and this culminated in the loudest noise I have ever heard made by 3000 people as we scored our winner. Just watch the below video to see what I am talking about... “We’re Crystal Palace, we’re top of the league!”
Terracing just makes everything better. We were right at the back of the stand so when we scored there was no surge from behind us. When we scored the second goal, during my mental jumping up and down, I looked forward and realised that there was nobody within ten feet of me. Instead everyone had run forward and what can only be described as a mosh pit was in full flow. Incredible scenes that I will never forget.
Before all of this we got to see what has to be the most pointless mascot ever. The Posh mascot is a Rabbit. What does a Rabbit have to do with Peterborough United?? As he walked across the Palace end of the ground he swung his carrot around and around as he goaded the Palace fans. The response was 300 fans singing “You can stick your fucking carrot up your arse!!” Fair play to the rabbit, he turned around, bent over, lifted the carrot above his head only to then hold up his right hand and wave his index finger from side to side whilst shaking his head.
Then at half time we had a cheerleader face plant into the ground as she fell over running off the pitch, providing great amusement to the away fans.
All in all, I saw a club that is very deserving of Adrian Durham.
Derby up next. 14 unbeaten? Why not?!