Stoke 4-1 Palace
Holloway had his first post match press conference of note.Crystal Palace hammered Stoke City for ninety minutes yet somehow crashed out of the FA Cup on a freezing cold night at the Britannia Stadium. Only a Lewis Price and error and a missed Jermaine Easter penalty prevented the Eagles from pulling off a cup upset at one of the toughest football grounds to visit in the country.
Unfortunately, with Palace fielding many bit part players, tiredness set in in extra time and Stoke’s quality in depth shone through. The score line, however, completely flattered the home side, a suggestion that could be argued by none.
Murray took the game to extra time with his twenty third goal of the season, converting a Jonny Williams won spot kick before Stoke ran away with the game in extra time with the much berated Jon Walters scoring the second (and third) and celebrating in front of the Palace fans like he had won the World Cup. Inciting the crowd is a booking right? Of course, no booking followed. Jerome finished the scoring with practically the last kick of the game to leave the Palace fans completely mystified as to how we had lost and by such a margin.
If you have read the rubbish that is spurted in the BBC Match Report one would be under the impression that Stoke were rightful winners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Palace were in control for large periods of the game and, for the second game running against Stoke, looked like the Premier League side of the tie.
Jonny Williams, Mile Jedinak and 17 year old Hiram Boateng, making his debut, controlled the midfield and created a series of chances against one of the meanest defences in the country. Zaha tormented the Stoke defence and won a first half penalty that was missed by Jermaine Easter, however, Zaha’s brilliant performance has been overshadowed by yet another terrible refereeing decision.
Before Zaha was felled for the penalty he had already had another stonewall penalty turned down. After turning Cameron inside out, Wilf got to the byline and was about to cut the ball back before he was flattened by Cameron who was desperately trying to recover. The ref tells Zaha to get up. After the penalty Zaha is then booked for diving, something that made the back page of many newspapers today. I was at the other end of the stadium and could clearly see that Zaha was chopped down for what should have been our third penalty in the first forty-five minutes. The video footage shows that he was fouled. The referee saw it differently, however, and could not wait to book Zaha for diving. The only surprise was that he managed to win a penalty at all.
The booking for “dive” occurred just before half time. Wilf spent the rest of the half hobbling about and was substituted during the interval as a result. “Did he make that (injury) up?” asked Holloway in what has become his most famous post match Palace press conference to date.
The annoying thing for me as a fan who has seen every game that Wilf has played is that he does not dive. He is moving fast and it doesn’t take much to knock him over when his momentum is even slightly halted. When Wilf goes down and he has not been fouled, he DOES NOT APPEAL! This happened twice in the first half. He went down under a challenge, the Stoke fans called him a cheat, yet he jumped up and carried on with no appeal. How referees cannot see the difference is beyond me.
Despite this controversy, Wilf’s performance was incredible and it was a shame that we only got to see him for forty five minutes. In the infamous Daily Mail interview it was suggested that Zaha talked about being better than Messi. Well, there is one thing that he has over Messi now and that is we all know the answer to the question...
“Could he do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke?”
However, much like Holloway, I am “bored” of talking about Zaha. Instead I am going to talk about three others that have graduated from our academy.
Wilfried (how did I get back on Wilf so soon?!) boasts perhaps the greatest full debut of recent academy graduates as he put Leicester to the sword, however, in many ways the debut of Hiram Boateng was by far and away more impressive.
Centre back and centre mid are the two positions in which it is very rare to see a 17 year old prospect play. It is much easier to put in a 17 year old out wide or up top and have a chance of them being effective. Just look at the amount of academy centre backs that we have lined up yet have not been handed full debuts yet, despite glowing references from all that have seen them at academy/development league level.
The reason why it is rare to see young debuts in the centre of the park is because of the responsibility that those positions come with. It is unfair to throw a 17 year old in to the centre of the park as wily old pro’s will use their experience and run all over them. Not Hiram.
This 17 year old strolled onto the pitch, in bright yellow boots, and looked like he had been bossing the midfield for years. He matched a hefty Stoke midfielder for strength, read the game as well as anyone could wish to at such a tender age and the range of passing that he displayed, with both feet, was nothing short of exceptional.
The biggest compliment that I can pay to Boateng, however, is that up until the 65th minute we were completely in control of the pace of the game. Once replaced, Stoke started to gain some traction in the midfield. The fact that he was so key in holding a Premier League midfield at bay, whilst managing to move us forward at the same time, is just astonishing.
I write this with all seriousness. He should start against Bolton alongside Mile Jedinak.
We all know about Joniesta. Look back at anything that I have written about him before and you will see that I have called him our “best player”, and he is. If he had not broken his leg he would be demanding a considerably higher transfer fee than Wilf. The kid is incredible and spent the majority of the night running rings around Stoke. Nzonzi is probably still looking for him now.
Holloway has likened him to David Silva. Does he need any higher praise? The kid is a phenomenon and he will be vital in our promotion push.
Many have been calling for Parsons to get a chance after his impressive performances for the Development Squad. He got that chance last night and did not fail to impress yet again. He possesses all of the attributes that we require from a full back going forward and is actually a better defender than Parr and Moxey. Maybe, just maybe, he has done enough to challenge for a starting spot.
On the flip side of these great performances, I must unfortunately walk about a not so great performance.
This match showed that his time as a Crystal Palace player is up. Missing the penalty and later missing when through one on one, were just the cherries on the top of the terrible performance cake.
I do not agree with the fans who sang about how bad Easter was and fully made my feelings known by turning around and telling them to shut up. That sort of behaviour is never going to help.
What is clear though, is that we have outgrown Easter and a move away from the club is best for all concerned.
Enough negativity though. The performance was top notch and there are plenty of positives to be taken aside from the detrimental effects that the long match could have in the short term in terms of tiredness. At least with the exit we have earned a weekend off on Saturday week.
Man of the Match: Hiram Boateng
Four real contestants for this award. They were Mile, Wilbraham, Joniesta and Boateng. It was hard to pick between the four of them so the award has to go to Boateng for it was his debut and he is such a young pup.
Jedinak was his usual beastly self, Joniesta was as mentioned above and Wilbraham worked like a trooper up top and won way more headers than he should be against a centre back the size of Robert Huth. But this was the youngster’s day.
The Palace fans sang all game long, showing the Stoke fans how it should be done. In my mind, Stoke are still a Championship team, however, their fans appear to have forgotten where they have come from and are teetering dangerously close to the edge of real football fans to just another Premier League brand. Sort it out, Delilah!
to see the Ian Holloway post match press conference.
Bolton and the Doog up next. A must win if ever there was one.