Palace 4-1 Shrews
Crystal Palace needed extra time to finally dump Shrewsbury out of the Capital One Cup at Selhurst Park. Matt Tootle had given the visitors a shock lead inside ten minutes, slotting home through the legs of Palace stopper Wayne Hennessey.
The hosts equalised four minutes before the break after Wilfried Zaha was felled in the penalty area. Dwight Gayle sent Jayson Leutwiler the wrong way from the spot and this is the way it would stay until extra where the extra class of the Premier League outfit finally started to show.
Five minutes into extra time Glenn Murray was hauled down in the box by Mat Sadler, who was lucky to escape with just a yellow card, and the veteran Palace striker converted the penalty he had won and two minutes later the game was over. Chung-young Lee jinked his way into the area and found the bottom corner.
Zaha capped off the better extra time performance with his first headed goal since he nodded home in front of the Palace fans at the Amex against Brighton in the Play Off Semi Final Second Leg back in May 2013.
We made nine changes from the team that started the last Premier League match against Aston Villa - only Wilfried Zaha and Joel Ward missed out on a rest. With Zaha missing a chunk of the pre season I assume that Alan Pardew saw this has an opportunity to get some minutes under the wingers belt. Meanwhile, Ward's form has been abject and again I assume that Pardew played him as he wanted him to build up some confidence.
This was the first time this season that we could actually see the depth that the squad now possesses. Sure the performance wasn't the best but you have to remember that we were up against a team that were effectively playing a cup final. They were well up for it and had a fluidity of a team that play with each other week in week out as opposed to the Palace starting eleven that hasn't played together before.
Drafting in the likes of Gayle, Bamford, Jedinak, Ledley, Kelly, Hangeland, Hennessey etc beggars belief really. They would have all been superstars in our team just a few short years ago.
I am often outspoken about the clubs treatment of the fans, however, I can have no arguments about where the club is on the pitch at the moment. So credit where it is due, I love the look of our squad.
Unfortunately, for me, football is not just about what goes on on the pitch - but that is a debate for another time.
A first chance to have an extended look at the Chelsea loanee in a competitive match. To say that he did not impress is an understatement.
Weirdly, people that were not at the game were saying that Sky Sports were suggesting that he was our "bright spark", had a "few decent touches" and was our "most likely scorer". I think this is just an example of Sky Sports being obsessed with the top four and, by extension, anyone that is on loan from a top four club. His touch was consistently bad, his finishing was wayward and he seemed more interested in grooming his barnet than sparking off anything! (Below are just two examples of people noticing this!)
The people around me at the game have already written him off based on one performance, but I am not going to be so hasty - experience has taught me that much! He joined the squad late in pre season and hasn't had much playing time since the campaign kicked off. He is not up the pace of things and this definitely showed.
I hope that it is just a fitness issue as he often seemed unwilling to run the channels and do the dirty work that you would see from the likes of a Glenn Murray for example. Arguably he isn't here to do that sort of 'dirty work' but if the game situation requires it, I would rather see him roll his sleeves up and get stuck in as opposed to looking like he is wandering around aimlessly and looking disinterested.
The fact is, however, on another night he could have easily had a hat-trick including an outrageous overhead kick (that went over the bar by a couple of inches). All in all, a tough start for the youngster but do not write him off just yet as I am certain that he will play his part this season once he is up to full speed.
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
"That's a freak of nature. I've not seen anything like that before live" said Town boss (and Alliteration Watch wannabe - see the 'Back in the Day' features on this website to make sense of that) Micky Mellon after the game.
There have been more than enough signs early on this season that this is going to be Zaha's year - and this is based on performances in which he hasn't even been full fit! His confidence is back and, more importantly, is his natural style of play. He is picking up the ball and the first thing in his mind is to beat his man. When he first came back from Manchester United his first thought was to retain possession and that often resulted in him seeming too scared to express himself and take on his man.
I can't be completely critical of this instinct that he gained during his time at Old Trafford as it his definitely improved his decision making in the long term. Making the right choice of what to do with the ball is happening more and more often and I am positive that it is only a matter of weeks before these performances starting turning into plenty of goals and assists.
Up Next: Chelsea
I think that this is going to be a great game and far more competitive than the outsider would expect. It's about time that we had an away win at a place like this and I would love to see us tip Jose Mourinho ovee the edge, no matter how much he loves ours fans.
Come on you Palace!