Reading 0-2 Palace

Cabaye (86 pen) Campbell (90+4)
Fri 11th March 2016

Crystal Palace became the first team in the Premier League era to reach the Semi Final of the FA Cup despite not winning a single league fixture between their third and sixth round matches. For the first time in the competition this season the Eagles were not facing a Premier League team and were firm favourites to advance to the Semi Final for the first time in twenty-one years. Of course, it is never quite that simple.

Alan Pardew, facing the first Club that gave him a chance as Manager, watched on as his Eagles pounded on the Reading door only to be denied time and again by former FA Cup winner Ali Al-Habsi. The former Wigan stopper denied Emmanuel Adebayor, Yannick Bolasie, Mile Jedinak and Yohan Cabaye free kicks in either half to keep the scores level as late as the 78th minute when Reading had their big chance. A deep cross found Ola John but the shakey looking Wayne Hennessey did well to save the header with his feet.

The hosts would rue the miss. With four minutes remaining, a Cabaye free kick was cleared but substitute Bakary Sako lifted the ball back into the penalty area. The Reading back line were asleep and Bolasie stole in behind only to be impeded by Jake Cooper. The centre back received a second yellow and his marching orders and Palace’s record signing Cabaye had the chance from the penalty spot. Man of the match Al-Hasbi managed to get a hand to the Frenchman’s central spot kick, but not enough to keep the ball out.

Finding themselves 1-0 up against ten men for the second game running, there was to be no repeat of the mistakes made against Liverpool in the previous match. Palace “stepped on”, to use Pardew’s words, the opposition and grabbed a second goal through Fraizer Campbell’s second goal of the season. Wilfried Zaha dribbled inside the penalty area, played the ball to Adebayor and the Togo strikers first time pass to Campbell was glorious. I mean, seriously glorious. Somehow Al-Habsi once again got a hand on Campbell’s shot but he could only push the ball on to the post and Campbell smashed home the rebound from less than a yard out to send the travelling support behind the goal wild.

I Love Damo

Yet again, Wilfried Zaha was targeted for roughhousing by the opposition and this time it was Chris Gunter having a dig. The ball has gone away, the Reading fullback deliberately attempts to trip him yet the referee conveniently misses the trip yet sees Zaha’s reaction. Then, something unsavoury is clearly said to Wilf as the change from being a little bit annoyed to full on furious was instant.

Then in came, Damo, to take the heat off Wilf – beautifully captured in the picture below.

Choice of Goalkeeper

Advanced warning – I am about to get irrationally miserably, but I have always told things how I see it and I am not about to stop now.

I am quite frankly outraged that Julian Speroni was left out of the squad last night. After the amount of errors made by Wayne Hennessey and Alex McCarthy this season, that have led to goals, it seemed like this was the time for Jules to come in. Alan Pardew basically implied in his pre match press conference that Jules would be involved – and then he is left out of the squad.

Before I get into the reason that I am so outraged, I will address the theory that throwing in a goalkeeper that has not played into a cup quarter final is suicide. Nonsense. It is not like being an outfield player that has not played all season. Match fitness is far less of an issue for goalkeepers and rustiness is not going to be a problem for a professional keeper. On top of that, Jules is one of the most experienced player in our squad.

Now back to my outrage. Alan Pardew has basically used Julian Speroni to play mind games in order to keep Reading in the dark over who is actually playing. That is one club legend playing mind games at the expense of another club legend – and actually only succeeding in pissing off a bunch of Crystal Palace fans.

I wasn’t there in 1990. I never saw Pardew play for Palace. In a nutshell, I am told how shit he was and that all he really did was score one goal and became a legend by default. I have seen Speroni play many times for Palace and seen him pull us out of the fire over and over AND stay at the club in the summer of 2010 when it would have been the easiest thing in the world to leave for QPR.

Is it Pardew flexing his ego? Is he mad that he know deep down that Speroni is a bigger Club legend than him and that rubs him up the wrong way? I am so pissed off I am even wondering if the year extension to Speroni’s contract is just another way that Pardew can leave him to rot.

Of course, I am over exaggerating now, but the treatment of Jules yesterday does not sit well with me. With the performances of our keepers this season, Jules deserves a chance and I would rather not be led into believing that he would be getting that chance. Speroni will naturally be chuffed that we are through and understands it is a team game. I am a fan and I get emotional about things and if Ola John had scored when Hennessey dropped that cross in the first half, instead of finding the side netting, there would have been a riot in portions of the away end – a situation that was wholly avoidable by playing a keeper who deserves a chance to show what he can do.

Man of the Match: Ali Al-Habsi

I rarely give man of the match to an opposition player, but he deserves it. Can we sign him in the summer?

Up Next: Leicester City

The day that we will piss off every neutral in England. I have got to the stage now where I want Leicester to do it – despite still being bitter about 1996 and hating the fact that they use clappers. However, all the better if they can do it after a loss at Selhurst Park.

Come on you Palace!

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Mike Dean

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Alan Pardew


Opposition Manager: 
Brian McDermott