Sun'land 1-4 Palace
Four goals in fourteen second half minutes saw Crystal Palace move to within a point of the top half of the Premier League and bought Sunderland back down to earth with a bump. With the Mackems still on a high after their derby win against Newcastle last weekend they were hoping to build on that result and move closer to safety. Instead Alan Pardew's side ruthlessly took advantage of an appalling home defence to cruise to a 1-4 victory and, in turn, slap Dick Advocatt's men a harsh dose of reality.
Glenn Murray opened the scoring three minutes into the second half with an unmarked header at the back post. The striker would then go on to add two assists to his numbers but his efforts were outshone on the day by the devastating performance of Yannick Bolasie.
The DR Congo international scored the 8th fastest hat trick in Premier League history, taking just ELEVEN MINUTES to complete his three goal haul. His first came in the 51st minute. He latched on to a Murray knock down and produced a lovely little scissor finish to slot the ball past Costel Pantilimon in the Sunderland goal.
The second came just two minutes later. This time he used his pace and strength to beat the awful John O'Shea to the ball that the returning Mile Jedinak floated in behind. He then held off the former Manchester United defender and beat the SIX FOOT EIGHT INCH keeper with the most outrageous of dink's.
The third came in the 62nd minute and once more it was a long ball that did the trick. James McArthur lumped the ball clear and Murray chased down the lost cause. He used his strength to put O'Shea on the deck and squared the ball to the unmarked Bolasie. The winger rounded the keeper, stumbled but just managed to get the ball out from underneath himself before just beating a despairing last ditch challenge from a defender to complete his treble. Before this he had only four goals in a Palace shirt.
Conor Wickham scored a late consolation but by this time the stadium was all but empty, barring the euphoric away support high up in the stands.
Alan Pardew: Tactics and Newcastle Trolling
When Pardew arrived from Newcastle I was assured that he knew "nothing about tactics" from Newcastle fans. Time and time again Pardew has made a mockery of these views and yesterday was no different.
We started the match with our usual 451 (433) formation and Sunderland were all over us for the first 10 minutes. Pardew showed his in game awareness and switched to 442 and it was game over for Sunderland. Jason Puncheon moved wide left and Bolasie moved up alongside Murray and after a small period of adjustment to the new set up and a half time brief from Pardew, we ran rings around them.
From early on it was clear that Sunderland were trying to press us high up the field and stop Puncheon from exerting his influence on the game They were swarming all over us in the middle of the park and this resulted in misplaced Palace pass after misplaced Palace pass.
With the midfield getting overrun it might seem strange to reduce the headcount in the middle of the park. However, it was clear as to the reason why we switch from a 5 man midfield to a four. Sunderland were defending so high up the pitch that almost the entire half of the field in behind was open for us to exploit and we did just that... eventually.
"The only disappointing thing in the first half is that we didn't take a few more risks and capitalise on some great situations" said Pardew after the game. In the stands I said to the guy standing next to me; "If O'Shea want's to defend that high against Bolasie then be my guest" and in the first half there were a few occasions in which if a just one more player broke defensive ranks and gambled forward we would have scored a lot earlier than we did.
For all of Pardew spotting the ridiculously high Sunderland line and making the adjustment to attack it, Advocatt was either too stubborn to adjust or was simply unaware of the exposed nature of his defence. As a Sunderland fan, I would be very worried.
I wish I was staying in Newcastle after the game as I would loved to have talked to some Black and White fans to get their view on the game. Do they celebrate their rivals losing or are they even more furious at Pardew for finally getting a win against Sunderland in his first match against them since leaving St James' Park? Most will probably plump for being furious, however, they are going to have to start realising sooner or later that Pardew might not have been the problem.
"Newcastle fans are probably thankful that they had Pardew at the start of the season" said Jermaine Jenas on Match of the Day. I then saw a tweet from a Newcastle fan in which he listed Newcastle winless start to the season. A period in which half the Newcastle squad was injured and as soon as those players, players that Pardew signed, returned from injury they won five on the bounce. Again, sooner or later they will have to admit that Pardew might not have been the problem.
Glenn Murray - The Perfect Number 9 or, er, 17.
I raved about him in the last match report, I raved about him in the last issue of Flying High Magazine and I am going to rave about him again here. All that you need to know about how brilliant the Palace number 17 is is epitomised in his goal.
He cushions a lovely header into Wilfried Zaha on one side of the penalty area before looping a 25 yard run to the back post where he gets on the end of the deflected Bolasie shot and heads us into the lead. Most strikers would have stood and admired their knock down but not Glenn. Nine times out of ten that run proves fruitless but that doesn't discourage him and this is why you see Murray score so often from inside the six yard box. His movement is second to none in the penalty area and I love that he is now getting to prove himself at the highest level of English football.
Martin Kelly and the Power of Competition for Places
Pardew is clearing choosing to bed Pape Souare in away from home. He started at Stoke and Sunderland, however, he had to come off injured yesterday and Kelly was superb when he came on.
Anyone who has read my reports in the past, or had the misfortune of standing next to me at games, will know that I am not Kelly's biggest fan. I think that he has the worst concentration levels I have seen in a Premier League footballer and it really bugs me that something that is so easily addressable goes unchecked and ruins his all around game.
Since the arrival of Souare, however, his levels of performance have gone up and I thought that he was excellent when he came on early on in this one. So credit where credit is due.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Utter dogshite. How he failed to send of Jack Rodwell off for his lunging, studs up, leg breaking type challenge on McArthur is beyond me. Then moments later he booked Scott Dann when Pantilimon slid into Dann's leg. Laughable.
Man of the Match: Yannick Bolasie
What can I say that has not already been said about this man since the match. Ian Wright, Mark Bright, Didier Drogba and rapper Wretch 32 were just some of the people raving about his performance yesterday. He paid his dues early in his career playing for the likes of Barnet and Plymouth and even having a spell in Cyprus in order to try and progress his career. Then after winning Bristol City young player of the season the Robins seemed happy to discard him on to the rubbish heap and sell him to Dougie Freedman's Crystal Palace for an initial fee of just £50,000... Just look at him now.
We all know that all is missing from his game is consistent end product. We don't need the Johnny come lately's to the Bolasie bandwagon on Match of the Day or Goals on Sunday to tell us that. Since his return from the African Cup of Nations that end product is starting to creep in. 3 assists (although I would argue 4 as surely he should get an assist for the Murray goal in this one?) and 3 goals in the 8 league games since his return shows this.
"I think that he is a top six player now" said Danny Murphy on MOTD. Well we are playing like a top six club at the moment so yeah, he is.
What we do know is this; if he grabs a few more goals and assists in the last 6 games of the season we will be tested with a sizeable bid in the summer. I just hope that he keeps his head on his shoulders, takes a look at Wilfried Zaha and his move to United, and realises that Selhurst Park is the place for him to thrive. After all, as much as this may be me getting carried away, who is to say that he might not be able to make the move to the higher echelons of the Premier League by merely staying put in SE25? At the moment, anything feel's possible.
Those of you that were following the game with out Twitter account you will have seen that I had a bet on Palace to win 4-0. £2.50 @ 80/1 would have bought in a tidy sum of £202.50 that would have paid for the day out and then some. Fortunately I cashed out for £117 as it looked like we were going to go on and get a 5th. Needless to say, I am pretty chuffed with that outcome.
One person on twitter did make me laugh as my dilemma of whether to cash out or not went on into the last 20 minutes of the game:
@fabulouslygrace said: "Never thought I'd see the day where you have to cash out 4-0 because it looks like we might score a 5th."
That is the Pardew effect, Grace!
A solid effort from those in attendance. The fifteen minutes after half time were some of the most bizarre I have ever experienced as a Palace fan. I missed the first goal as we were still climbing the endless stairs in the back of the away end after a half time beer. Although that was nowhere near as bad as @KingvagabondHOL on Twitter who managed to miss the first THREE Palace goals in the name of a half time beer.
It seemed like every time we had finished celebrating a goal I would look at the pitch just as we were scoring again and the mass exodus of Sunderland fans after the third and fourth goals just added to the scenes. It was so empty by the time that Connor Wickham scored (I'd still take him in a heartbeat at Palace) that it seemed only right that we celebrated the goal as their 3/4 empty stadium wasn't going to do it.
I also loved the early substitution of Yannick. It gave him the standing ovation that he deserved and watching most of the players on the pitch applauding him was a sight. When he emerged at the end of the game as well to salute the travelling Palace fans, the noise that we generated and the smile he bought to his face was just another little moment of many that make me love following my football club.
Up Next: West Brom
Oh how I would love to do what we did to Sunderland against West Brom. I will probably be neutral towards Tony Pulis. I will not boo but I will certainly not clap him either. Saving us counteracts his behaviour since in my eyes and now we are in a stronger position because of his actions so it all worked out well in the end.
Come on you Palace!