Palace 2-1 Bolton
Sam Allardyce won his first match as Crystal Palace manager at the sixth time of asking, as the Premier League strugglers knocked League One contenders, Bolton Wanderers, out of the FA Cup at the second attempt.
This first victory did not come without bumps in the road. The visitors took the lead just after the break when James Henry produced a finish that could have seen him mistaken for Thierry Henry – chipping a beautiful, curling effort into the far top corner.
Just after the hour, Allardyce turned to his bench and introduced James Tomkins, Jason Puncheon and Christian Benteke into the fray – and the impact would be almost instant. Just six minutes after his introduction, Benteke would climb highest to head home an inviting Flamini cross before adding a second nine minutes later, with a classy turn and shot.
Allardyce is hoping that this win will breed confidence within in the squad, Puncheon is hoping that the win will act as a building block – however you phrase it, it has to be a step in the right direction as we cannot suffer many more in the wrong direction.
I have been hard on him, so I want to give a bit of credit where it is due. I cannot commit his application and his desire to defend as well as attack. Unfortunately, there is still no form whatsoever. Well, I hope that it is just our form that is the problem. He comes out of this one with an assist to his name, but the cross that earned him this stat was awful, and only Benteke’s brilliance turned the centre into goal.
What was interesting was how frequently he dribbled to the by-line. This is why I have the smallest glimmer of hope for Andros. With Benteke in the middle, the winger should just concentrate on getting to the line and standing up crosses for the big Belgian. If he can establish a reputation of crossing for goals, this will open up the space inside that he loves to cut into. The problem with cutting in at the moment is that it is so predictable and he is dispossessed so often it is laughable.
Beat your man once, get the cross in and let Benteke do the rest. All of a sudden, the game will seem very easy, Mr Townsend.
Sullay Kaikai’s Full Debut
3 years, 4 months and 22 days, is the amount of time that has elapsed since an Academy player made a full debut for Palace when Alex Wynter and Jerome Williams made their full debuts away at Bristol City in the League Cup.
Combined with Julian Speroni, having an Academy player on the field gave a huge lift to the tiny Selhurst Park crowd.
Was Kaikai brilliant? No. Was there encouraging signs? Yes, plenty. Allardyce alluded to the youngster’s movement being good and it was. However, developing this, and all other aspects of his game, comes with game time and with Allardyce opening the door to him if he can be a “good learner”, then maybe hope is alive again for our Academy prospects.
I almost got through this without moaning, but then the ticket prices for the next round were announced – and the Club have got it wrong, again.
7,149 people turned up for this match, 980 of which were Bolton fans. So, 6,169 Palace fans bothered to brave the cold. Of course, the form plays a big part in that number, but so did the £20 entrance fee. Southampton charged us £10 last season in the third round and we took thousands down there and watched the game in a sold out stadium as a result. The pricing of this match took thousands off the gate, I am certain. Make it £10, let everyone know that Speroni is playing in advance and people will come.
In the next round, we will be charged £25 to watch Palace play Manchester City. I have already seen plenty of fans say that they are not going to come at that price and all of these fans are people that were turning up every week before we were in the Premier League. What happens if we get relegated and the Club has isolated all of these fans? When the 11,000 or so Premier League only attendees stop coming, the Club are going to have a very hard time trying to woo back the fans that were such stalwarts before this abandonment started.
Up Next: Everton
I feel like we are catching them at the wrong time. They will be positively buoyant after trouncing Manchester City last week, our only hope is that their mood is also riddled with complacency.
Come on you Palace!