Palace 1-0 Hull
Crystal Palace completed a double of single goal victories to nil over Hull City on a night riddled with controversy. Jason Puncheon’s third goal of the season came in the 16th minute and moved the Eagles 5 points clear of the relegation zone and level on points with the Tigers. The goal, however, was somewhat of an afterthought in an event packed 90 minutes. A red card, vehement penalty appeals, terrible weather and political banners made up the entertainment in what could turn out to be a significant victory for Tony Pulis’ team.
For the first time since the baseball cap wearing gaffer took charge of Palace, his name was sung in the stands. It was only for a short period and only from around a few hundred fans but it was a start. The Holmesdale can be difficult for a new manager to win over. We have had so many managers over the past two decades that it is difficult to get to attached to them and thus, as a set of fans, we can be slow to get behind a new boss. “South London’s Red N Blue Army” replaces the manager’s name for the opening weeks until the new man proves himself. Pulis is starting to do this and the fans are responding.
In what is proving to be yet another frustrating transfer window, Pulis has shown his frustration where his predecessor did not. Stories in the press have suggested that he is even considering leaving his post if we do not make any signings in January. Pulis has come out and rubbished these rumours and said that he was already “find it difficult to let down the fans who have been fantastic.”
"That’s good enough for 16 points and 10th place in the Premier League form table over that period of time."
It is not just this lip service that is winning the fans over. It’s the results on the pitch also. In the 11 games that Pulis has overseen Palace have won 5, lost 5 and drawn 1. That’s good enough for 16 points and 10th place in the Premier League form table over that period of time. Further, if we continue this form until the end of the season we will easily eclipse the magic 40pts mark by a margin of 4 or 5 points.
Of course I am not suggesting that the rest of the season is going to be a cakewalk, it will not. But there is no doubt that we have a chance under Pulis, a chance that no one gave us going into this season or even after as many as 15 games into it.
It’s not always pretty and it can winning 1-0 a lot of the time can be very nerve racking but it is effective and I will happily take it in order to secure survival in the Premier League and, in turn, financial security for the club.
Shane Long, Steve Bruce & Allan McGregor
Let’s start with the wretched little diver that is Shane Long. I’ll admit it, he had me conned. From where I was stood in the Holmesdale it looked to be a clear cut penalty. On seeing it on the TV Long has been very clever in getting in front of Gabbidon and leaving his leg for the Palace centre back to take. Unfortunately for Long he forgot to delay his dive and was already falling over before Gabbidon touched him. As a result the referee waves away his appeal, one of the few things that Mr Roger East actually got right on the night.
"His over the top of the ball challenge on Delaney should have seen him booked at the very least, if not dismissed."
One of the many things that Mr East did get wrong was that, somehow, Long remained on the pitch for the duration of the game. His over the top of the ball challenge on Delaney should have seen him booked at the very least, if not dismissed. Persistent fouling from former West Brom man also failed to draw a yellow card from the referee.
Meanwhile in his post-match press conference Steve Bruce is using words such as, “stonewall penalty” and “blatant.” Whilst his comments will surely land him with his second fine of the season for bad mouthing referees, it was extremely amusing to watch Bruce try and keep his cool.
"McGregor was not so smart and saw red."
He talks about O’Keefe going “over the top” of the ball on McGregor yet makes no mention of Long making an identical challenge on Delaney. The only difference was that Delaney waited for play to start again before he kicked Long up in the air. McGregor was not so smart and saw red, but more on that shortly.
Mr Bruce, you cannot look the decisions that affected your team in isolation. Calling for a penalty for a foul on Jelavic in the box yet ignore that an almost identical challenge was committed on Chamakh in the box. If one is a penalty, so is the other. To try and then defend McGregor is ludicrous! The rules are the rules. He kicked another player and this equals a straight red every time.
I understand your frustration though, Mr Bruce. It must be extremely annoying knowing that this is the fourth time that you have faced Crystal Palace in the Premier League as a manager and your record is as follows:
Now onto Allan McGregor. Ha! What a joke of a man. Firstly he threw his toys out of the pram when he collided with Cameron Jerome. He squared up to striker and screamed in his face, much to the amusement of Jerome, and Selhurst Park could only shout their indignation when Jerome was booked and McGregor escaped unscathed. Again, if one is getting booked then both should get booked.
Then there is his red card. Again, Ha! Take a bow Stuart O’Keefe. The former Southend man had already amused me earlier in the evening by recording a birthday message to FYP’s Andy Street saying “Happy Birthday Streety you Ginger Bastard” yet he managed to add to his entertainment factor after coming on.
Bruce moaned about the challenge but for me it is just very smart. He didn’t go through McGregor nor did he attempt to hurt the Scottish keeper. He merely tagged him to play on his anger that still clearly hadn’t mellowed after trying to fight Jerome. O’Keefe got the reaction he aimed for. McGregor lashed out and the red card followed. From O’Keefe we got zero emotion, he simply took his booking and jogged back to the half way line and didn’t even give McGregor a second glance. Brilliant stuff.
"He threw a hilarious tantrum."
Then the McGregor show started. He threw a hilarious tantrum at the referee before hurling his gloves onto the ground before ripping off his shirt. With Hull having already used all of their subs the only surprise left for the evening was that Tom Huddlestone managed to fit into McGregor’s shirt as he deputised in between the sticks.
Man of the Match: Jason Puncheon
Honourable mentions go to Delaney and Ward. Delaney for his revenge tackle on Long, if nothing else and Ward for his tireless midfield performance. Puncheon takes the award though for his goal and all-around performance. He often provided us with an outlet and his newfound directness was a constant threat to the visitors. It is a far cry from before Christmas when the man seemed unaware that he was allowed to pass the ball forward. Fair pay to him on his incredible turnaround in form, especially in the wake of THAT penalty.
Now we are talking! You’ve got to love a Tuesday night on Selhurst Park. For some reason the atmosphere kicks up a notch and as a result we have this incredible record in fixtures that take place under the lights on the second day of the week:
It is a quite outstanding record and is now starting to run over into the Premier League after this victory and the one against West Ham earlier in the season.
From castigating Long (“He’s gonna dive in a minute”) to backing the team with spine tingling renditions of “We Love You” and other songs, it was a fantastic night and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Better still, in and around all of the noise the HF found time to display two banners. First they produced a banner offering support to the Hull City protest #NoToHullTigers. “Allam – Your ‘lousy’ ideas are not welcome in football” were the words.
"Then came the damning verdict on the actions of Croydon Council."
Then came the damning verdict on the actions of Croydon Council: “6 stabbings in 10 days yet time wasted harassing the Palace support. Croydon Council get your priorities right.” This comes off the back of Croydon Council demanding that we have more stewards, at extra cost to the club, in the Lower Holmesdale as people “are standing in the aisles.” Much of Selhurst stood to applaud the banner and I can only imagine that there will be some red faces in and around the council today.
Up Next: Arsenal
An impossible task but I have learned to expect the unexpected at Palace. Believe in the boys and get behind like we did last night and we might just cause one of the upsets of the season. If not, then on to West Brom and another huge battle at the bottom of the table.
Come on you Palace!
Shane Long Competition
I asked for the your opinions on Shane Long on Twitter. Here are the best three:
@RednBlueRich: In the wrong job, someone get him a snorkel!
@esexton95: Decent player can cause problems but was very lucky not to be seriously injured by the wind last night.
@CarlosDaBoss83: The Irishman with no luck or charm.