Brighton 2-1 Palace
Crystal Palace crashed out of the FA Cup at Brighton in a game that potentially crippled the reputation of the M23 Derby. Just 14,507 fans turned up to witness the third-round tie, 15,382 fans fewer than the league game at the Amex only 34 days earlier. The poultry attendance witnessed a late Glenn Murray winner, a goal that was shrouded in controversy.
The hosts deservedly led at the break thanks to a Dale Stephens strike in the 25th minute before a revitalises Palace emerged in the second-half. Bakary Sako levelled on 69 minutes, shocking the entire stadium by letting flying with his supposedly weaker right foot. The Brighton players must have been straight into their analysts after the game, asking exactly why they should let him shoot with his right. Sako’s strike was his fifth of the season and he has scored in each of his three starts in cup competitions this season.
Glenn Murray then climbed from the bench to score the winner three minutes from time, despite the Palace fans singing his name as he climbed from the bench. The question was, did the number seventeen use his arm to score the goal?
For what it is worth, I do not think that there is enough evidence to say that Murray did or did not touch the ball with his arm. If the referee had gone to the booth to review the goal, I doubt that he would have turned it over. But, it does seem ridiculous that he did not go to the booth to review the goal.
Having watched back the post-match on BT Sport, it is clear that the VAR did not have all of the angles that BT Sport had. Firstly, WHAT? The VAR does not have all the angles? The VAR managed to check the goal for offside quickly but did not check for a handball. For my money, that makes the whole point of it being there farcical! There is a definite element of doubt about that goal, the angle that was not seen by the VAR was seen on the screen, and even Brighton fans in the stadium were suggesting that it was handball. Rio Ferdinand, sat behind the Palace fans in the BT Sport box, was saying that he thought it was handball through the window. Surely it is the absolute definition of why VAR is being trialled or used around the globe?
I am fully against VAR. I think that he will create just as many issues as it solves and to the detriment of the game. But there I was chanting “V A R! V A R!”
The Death of the Rivalry?
“Death” might be a bit strong, but the rivalry between the Club’s embarrassed itself to the outside world in this one. How can only 14,507 people turn up? There were more empty seats than there were people in the stadium. It must be extremely rare for any other derby in the World to see the stadium less than half full. People watching on BT Sport and seeing that hulk of a stand that faces the TV cameras with more empty seats than fans must have been laughing at us.
We “sold out” our allocation. The stewards there told us that we had sold 1,991 of our 2,000 allocation. I do not think that all the 1,991 Palace fans that purchased tickets made it to the game as there were certainly a fair number of empty seats around where I was. Of course, those fans could have moved further back as I was very near the front. But, let’s be honest, if we had been given another 500 we wouldn’t have sold them, let alone another 2,000.
There are plenty of reasons why Palace and Brighton didn’t/wouldn’t turn out in numbers.
Firstly, the treatment of the fans by the police at the league game in November meant that some Palace fans did not go. I know this for a fact. My party was 9 strong at the league game, there was two of us at this one. Police kettled Palace fans after the game, yet again, and the image of the Police “escorting” Palace fans to the game is shocking as the number of Hi-Viz jackets outnumbered the number of Palace fans by a considerable number. I don’t blame the people for staying away.
Secondly, there were reported train strikes only for trains to run without incident. One can see why conspiracies thrive. A strike is reported, the trains run as normal. So, what happened?
Finally (for what I will write about here at least), the true number of Brighton plastics was revealed, and the number is circa 14,500. A bit of me feels sorry for the 12,516 Brighton fans that were in attendance. They are the real Brighton fans. The ones (and their now kids) that would have been at the Withdean or the Goldstone in their dark days. There is little or nothing, that would make them miss a Brighton vs Palace match. The other 14,500, well, they’d likely miss it if Chelsea were on Sky.
With the 0-0 in the league and this match, which also lacked in quality for very long periods, this derby needs a banger at Selhurst Park in April. If not, we (Brighton AND Palace) have embarrassed ourselves in front of the World.
FA Cup or Premier League Survival?
I still fall on the side of FA Cup win and relegation over Premier League survival, but last night was a big advert for Premier League survival over FA Cup glory. The reward for victory last night, bragging rights aside, is what looks like a very difficult trip to Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough in the fourth round, with a potential replay to follow.
Jeffrey Schlupp left the stadium in a boot and Andros Townsend on crutches. Brighton’s late winner meant that we no longer have a replay four days before we travel to Arsenal and, should we have won the replay, no game four days before we travel to West Ham. Meanwhile, Brighton now play four days before travelling to what will be a huge match at Southampton in the league. Should they draw at Boro in the fourth round, they will have to play a few days before travelling to a crunch league game at Stoke.
I don’t want to make this sound that I am happy that we lost at Brighton – I’ll never be happy about that! But, a little bit of me lost the will to win when I saw the draw before kick-off, and I think that long-term, Brighton’s victory will see them lose more than they have gained.
Man of the Match: Bakary Sako
Best of a bad bunch. I think that we were all amazed that he scored with his right peg in such emphatic fashion and he was the only real bright spark going forward.
With Townsend now injured, he is likely to get a starting role back in the wide position that he is used to. Let’s hope that his new-found form can continue and thrive in a starting place.
Up Next: Burnley
Be honest. “Who has the better squad? Us or Burnley?” Steve Parish probably still shivers when he thinks back to writing that Tweet after losing at Burnley in the fourth league game of the season. I wonder if he still feels the same now, especially when factoring in our stretched our squad looks now.
Before the added injuries at Brighton, I would have been quietly confident that we could pick up a result against the Clarets. Now, my confidence has wavered a little.
Come on you Palace!