Bristol C 2-1 Palace
The curse of Ashton Gate continued for Crystal Palace in the second round of the League Cup. The Eagles are now 34 years without a victory at the home of Bristol City thanks to second half strikes from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Scott Wagstaff. Owen Garvan pulled a goal back in injury time with a stunning volley but history was to repeat itself as Palace lost in Bristol on a Tuesday night for the second August running.
The honest truth is that Palace were never in this match. Both on the field and, arguably, mentally. With Holloway making eleven changes to the team that lost at Stoke on the weekend it was clear that we were not gunning to be in the draw for the third round. Bristol City took full advantage and fair play to them.
Palace fans' moods have varied since the full time whistle sounded last night. I'm going to explore some of these moods as I sure don't want to talk about the 'football' that we played last night.
Concentrate on the League
"@cacan_baz I never like watching our team lose but we are in the Premier League and I am glad we are out. It's about Premiership survival!"
The obvious one, we wanted to lose in order to concentrate on Premier League survival. The cup can be a very unwelcome distraction, something that we have experienced in recent seasons. Our league form suffered heavily due to our run to the semi final of the League Cup during the 11/12 season. The extra seven games, two of which went to extra time, wrecked our small squad and we couldn't buy a win at the back end of the season. Swansea last season are another good example of this. 6 points from a possible 33 after their victory over Bradford in the League Cup final. Relegation form in other words.
"@cpfcpatriot Result doesn't matter. Sign of zero depth in the squad is not good."
The reason for Swansea's demise last season was that their squad depth was non-existent and the extra seven games that the cup run resulted in saw key players overworked.
What last night did show, somewhat worryingly, is that we are in the same boat. A few injuries to key players and we are in a lot of trouble as nobody that played last night, who is on the fringes of the first team, showed that they are ready to step in to a Premier League match and put in a performance. It doesn't bear thinking about but just imagine if Mile Jedinak was to pick up an injury!
I'm not suggesting that it was a total write off. Jerome Williams again showed his potential and Marange looks like he could do a job... But past that I am struggling. Even Joniesta's performance was poor.
An Exercise in Confidence
"@JuliaRobertsQVC Win would've been good for confidence and morale BUT if the actual first team had lost then very bad for morale."
Confidence is a fragile thing. Easily eradicated yet very difficult to achieve, especially in a losing side. I was very surprised on Monday to hear that Holloway would be making eleven changes to the team for this fixture. After a stop start pre-season I thought that this would have been a chance to get some more game time under the belts of the players that missed out in pre-season. Better still, it would have been game time against lower league opposition giving them a chance to build up a bit of confidence against lesser opponents.
Chamakh could have scored a couple of goals. Puncheon could have chipped in with an assist and a goal. Gayle could have scored his first Palace goal. The possibilities are endless.
Of course there is the flip side to the coin. Say we field a strong side and still lose? Then morale is damaged all across the camp, from the club to the fans. With our record away to Bristol City there is every chance that our first team would have found a way to lose and then we would all be a lot worse off than we actually are today.
"Losing at Ashton Gate would have hurt Ian Holloway."
Losing at Ashton Gate would have hurt Ian Holloway. Being a big Bristol Rovers man, I know that he would have wanted to beat them and beat them well. However, he has to look at the bigger picture and currently the bigger picture is the Premier League and not the League Cup.
In an ideal world we would have put in a good performance in defeat but alas that was not the case and we are left dissecting an awful performance. But never fear, it will be a very different eleven players that will be shaping the clubs fortune this season.
Man of the Match: Jerome Williams
The only player to come out of the game with any credit. He handled any threat that City had to offer down his flank and managed to look dangerous in the final third as his team mates around him faltered. He put in a peach of a cross that Appiah was close to getting on the end of and he again showed his great skills on the ball to dance around defenders. His future looks bright.
It's always a laugh at Bristol City. The old school stand locks in the noise and it is very easy to have a good old back and forth with the home support away to the right.
"4-1 and you still went down" and "4-1 and we still went up" were personal highlights from the Palace fans along with a very loud "Holloway's Red N Blue Army" for the ten minutes leading up to half time, which was Palace's best spell in the match.
Up Next - Sunderland
The last game before the international break sees a team expected to be in the relegation mix at the end of the season visit Selhurst Park. Taking the full compliment of points from Di Canio's men now seems vitally important. Especially considering that "our home form is key"... Thanks Alan Hansen. Why don't you tell us again on MOTD this weekend?
A victory against Sheffield Wednesday just before the very same international break last year kick started out season, lets hope history repeats itself in our favour this time.