Cardiff 0-3 Palace

Puncheon (31, 88), Ledley (71)
Sat 5th April 2014
Cardiff City Stadium

Crystal Palace scored three goals away from home in the Premier League for the first time in just over sixteen years in brushing away Cardiff City. The victory saw the Eagles sore to fourteenth place in the table and a massive seven points clear of the drop zone and further one point ahead of the Bluebirds who now languish in nineteenth place.

The two goal scorers in the game write their own headlines but in opposing fashions. Jason Puncheon, a boyhood Crystal Palace fan, scored either side of a Joe Ledley, a boyhood Cardiff City fan, tap in to complete the deserved 0-3 score line. At the other end of the pitch the inform Julian Speroni was rarely troubled as the Palace back four nullified any attacking threat the hosts could muster up, which in all honesty was not that much.

"The first Palace goal came just after the half an hour mark."

The first Palace goal came just after the half an hour mark. Cameron Jerome, a former Cardiff player who's every touch was booed, won a flick on early in the move before the ball found its way to Puncheon in the area, courtesy of a Ledley pass, and his shot through a crowd of players gave the unsighted David Marshall in the Cardiff goal no chance.

The clincher came in the seventy first minute and was a sickener for the home fans. A powerful Marouane Chamakh header was brilliantly saved by Marshall but Ledley was there to prod the ball home from close range to send the away fans into raptures.

"Puncheon then rounder of proceedings with arguably Palace's best goal of the season."

Puncheon then rounder of proceedings with arguably Palace's best goal of the season. Chamakh produce an outrageous little dummy, letting the ball run through his legs, allowing Puncheon to run at the Cardiff back line. At the end of his burst he shifted the ball onto his left foot and curled an absolute peach into the top corner leaving poor Marshall stranded yet again.

So Very Un-Palace

Any Palace fan worth their salt will know that we were supposed to lose yesterday. Post match we were supposed to be grumbling "typical Palace" into a pint. "Beat Chelsea one week and lose to Cardiff the next." This season is supposed to go down to the final day when we travel to Craven Cottage, so a loss against Cardiff was inevitable.

"Stockport and Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham and Charlton have drummed it into me."

"Even my wife said to me when I left this morning not to get my hopes up. You know Palace are going to make it hard for themselves she said" said Carl (@Carl_Babs) to me moments before kickoff. "We lose today 100% of the time" I responded. Call it pessimistic, negative, rubbish etc but years of supporting Palace have taught me so. Stockport and Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham and Charlton have drummed it into me. It's going to the wire whether you want it to or not. Hence under no circumstances could I see a win for our boys.

The post match exchange between Carl and me after the game via text message encapsulated the shock of the result and yet the continued pessimism: 

Me: I don't know what just happened!!
Carl: Absolutely unbelievable.
Me: I have to re-evaluate what I believe it is to be Palace.
Carl: I keep telling myself, we were once 8 points clear on the penultimate week of the season, got a draw and still got relegated.... this could all be part of the big kick in the teeth!

So will I (we) have to re-evaluate or will the Palace we know all too well emerge and see it go down to the wire? Only the last six games will tell us but I am enjoying the result until we do it all again next Saturday.

Revenge is Sweet

The League Cup Semi Final defeat at Cardiff a couple of years back ranks as one of my most heartbreaking moments as a Palace fan. My first Palace game was in 1994 so I missed the FA Cup Final. One of my main goals in life is to see Palace in a major cup final. To be so close and to have it cruelly taken away by a series of horrible penalty kicks was devastating... but that is football.

"This is what made the win so much sweeter yesterday."

What did stick with me that night was the behaviour of the Cardiff fans after the game. Instead of congratulating their team on making the final they seemed more intent on hurling as much abuse in our direction as possible. Sure football fans do this but it just didn't sit right with me. We are very similar clubs. Both of us were Championship clubs and punching above our weight in the latter stages of a major competition. Getting to the final would have been a huge achievement for either club, just as losing would have been utterly gut wrenching. If we had won the full time whistle would have been greeted by one of the loudest volleys of "We Love You" ever, directed at our team. Abusing the Cardiff fans wouldn't have crossed the minds of the majority of Palace fans. Resultantly I have never forgotten that post match abuse from the masses of Cardiff fans and this is what made the win so much sweeter yesterday.

As Ledley scored with just under twenty minutes to go it was a phenomenal sight watching thousands of Cardiff fans leave the stadium even though there was over TWENTY MINUTES to go including stoppages. The previous week they had turned around a 0-2 deficit and a 2-3 deficit with the last kick of the game yet here were their fans throwing in the towel with just under a quarter of the game remaining. "Is there a fire drill?" was never so aptly sung by an away support.

"A cacophony of foul mouthed abuse."

I would like to say that I didn't fall to their level once the third went in but the memory of the Semi Final loomed too large in my mind. I was up on my seat waving the next batch of thousands of Cardiff fans to vacate the stadium early accompanied by a cacophony of foul mouthed abuse.

In the first half I respectfully clapped the rousing chorus of "We're Cardiff City, we want to be Blue" directed at the most ludicrous of football club owners, Vincent Tan. However, in the second half I wondered why I bothered. They attempted the same song a second time yet 80% of their fans couldn't even be bothered to join in! Are you kidding me?! What you are protesting against is bigger than this one season and this one result! It is about protecting your clubs history. 

"They could learn a thing or two from Hull "not Tigers" City."

It was at this point that I remembered the amount of abuse that a former Cardiff blogger, Ben Dudley, got from his own fans when he openly protested against the change on Twitter and ended up on Sky Sports News. The fact is that now it is all too little too late from the Cardiff fans. They sold their souls for "success" and it has backfired... but deep down they know that if it was offered to them again, they would do the same thing. They could learn a thing or two from Hull "not Tigers" City.

"You silly bastards, you're playing in red!" and you only have yourselves to blame.

He Wants to Come Home!

Another sub plot to this crunch relegation fixture was that of Wilfried Zaha playing against his former club for the first time. Now this came with a lot of pre match hype whipped up, in the main, by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In demanding that Wilf celebrates should he score he showed his naivety as a manager. Ultimately Solskjaer put the wrong sort of pressure onto the young shoulders of Zaha who ended up being substituted and walked straight up the tunnel as the Palace fans screamed "He's Just too Good for you!" at the top of their voices whilst the home fans booed him. The outpouring of anger towards Zaha that followed from the Cardiff fans has only added to my amusement.

"Demanding that Zaha celebrates should he score shows a complete lack of understanding from Solskjaer on how to handle his players."

Firstly let’s talk about Solskjaer. Demanding that Zaha celebrates should he score shows a complete lack of understanding from Solskjaer on how to handle his players. Wilf was at Crystal Palace for over half of his life! It is not just a former club; it is his home that he is playing against. To demand that a player disrespects something that he would never comprehend disrespecting is, well, damn right disrespectful from the Norwegian! If he expected a performance from Zaha after that he was very much mistaken.

Saying that, Wilf was the only player in a RED shirt that looked like doing anything that could hurt us. At several points he managed to do what numerous wingers have failed to do this season and made Joel Ward look uncomfortable. He got to the by line on a couple of occasions but then did what Wilfried does best and picked out a Palace shirt with his cross. On one such occasion he won a corner and ran over to the Palace fans where he was met by a roar. He clapped his family and then received a pass from a player wearing an unfamiliar shirt and decided to give the ball back to a familiar shirt. Perhaps my April Fools joke was not so much of a joke!

"Can you tell the difference between class and classless, Mr Solskjaer?"

Ole, two pieces of advice for you. One, learn your players history. Put an arm around Wilf and tell him that you understand it will be difficult for him to play against his home and then tell him that it is ok to play well against them, after all it is his job, and that the Palace fans will understand if he scores a goal and will love him no less for it. Two, take a leaf out of Joe Ledley's book. He scored, didn't celebrate and then applauded all four corners of the Cardiff City Stadium at full time. Can you tell the difference between class and classless, Mr Solskjaer?

Now we have a few of the bitter Cardiff fans:

"I genuinely hope Zaha tears both of his ACL's and ends up in a wheelchair." said @RyanJonesy1005 on Twitter.

"If you missed it yesterday on behalf of all Cardiff City fans. Wilfried Zaha please f**k off back to Utd. You are a disgrace" said @pedmasters on Twitter.

"So disappointed with Wilfried Zaha today wouldn’t do the ayatollah, claps the Palace fans, then walks straight down the tunnel when subbed. If you don’t want to play for us then leave, but don’t be disrespectful #notabluebird.” Said @lynneemmitt on Twitter.

So, Wilfried Zaha is expected to play for these sorts of fans? They boo him off and he expected to say thank you very much with an ayatollah? Lynne talks of “respect” after their manager had disrespected Wilfried by ordering him to celebrate?

After Zaha came on last week and completely changed the game against West Brom, helping to earn your sorry arses a point, you were all creaming your respective pants over him. Now all of a sudden he is disrespectful and you want him crippled? Get a grip. Wilf is not always what you see on the YouTube videos. He doesn’t beat his man every single time! Sometimes he gets tackled it doesn't mean that he is not interested.... or then again, maybe he just doesn’t give a damn about you and is laughing inside about your imminent return to your rightful level.

"Come home pal."

Wilf, Alex Ferguson would have turned you into a world beater but he has gone. Come home pal. Flourish in the Premier League in Red 'n' Blue instead and prove all of the doubters wrong.

Man of the Match: Jason Puncheon

An easy choice really. He was a constant menace and scored two fantastic goals. Even his rating on was 10. This is something that I have not seen in a Palace match, including the opposition, this season. When he is on he is on and he put Cardiff to the sword with his faultless forward play. He is repaying that hat-trick he scored against us for Millwall that time. 

A special mention must go to Adrian Mariappa who I thought had a tremendous game.

Atmosphere: Scenes!!!

Just wow! I’m mean I wouldn’t expect anything less when winning such a big game away from home 3-0 but it did go to the next level at points. I mean, crowd surfing?! A man actually crowd surfed over the Holmesdale Fanatics who would have looked more at home at a heavy rock gig as opposed to a football match as they literally moshed around in their seat whilst surrounded by a bunch of stewards that literally had no idea what to do!

Cardiff fans can be loud, especially at home and I count the times on one hand that I heard them over us and one of those times was when they were lavishing their own team with boos. 

"Even long after the full time whistle around 800 Palace fans remained in the ground."

Even long after the full time whistle around 800 Palace fans remained in the ground and welcomed the Palace players back onto the pitch for their warm down with a wall of noise. What separates us from other teams though is this is us, win lose or draw. Everyone was raving about Liverpool fans lining up outside the stadium to greet their team against Sunderland last week. Whilst it was an impressive effort, if you cannot back your team like that when they are losing, do not bother backing them when they are winning!

To every single person that attended, I salute you.

Up Next: Aston Villa

Surely a win in this match and we are safe. We have to keep our eyes on the ball but I am getting ready for a party next weekend.

Come on you Palace!

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