Palace 1-0 Terriers
Roy Hodgson claimed his first win as Crystal Palace manager against Huddersfield Town on a feel-good night at Selhurst Park. The Eagles advanced to the fourth round of the League Cup thanks to a first-half header from Bakary Sako, but the story of the night was the returns of Pape Souare and Mamadou Sakho to first-team action.
Pape Souare’s horrific car-crash just over a year ago had everyone wondering if he’d ever be able to find a way back to the standard required to play for a Premier League team. After a slow start, he showed that the path is certainly not blocked:
"I was concerned about him in the first five or ten minutes because he was struggling a little with the pace and the intensity, but he got through that and made two very important challenges coming from left-back into the centre," said Hodgson after the game.
The outpouring of love for the Senegal international was there see in the stands and on social media.
“That touched me a lot and I give everything for them,” said Souare after the game.
Meanwhile, Sakho was every bit as imperious as he was when he was on loan from Liverpool at the end of last season.
It’s Just Like Watching Tulse Hill
I appreciate that this was against a second-string Huddersfield Town team that is Championship level, but we played some very good stuff in this one.
It started at the very back. Julian Speroni was back in between the sticks as captain and kept the first clean sheet for Palace in 7 games. He made saves, one particularly good one late on to keep Palace ahead, and distributed the ball well short (although there was one mishit long clearance with his left). As a result, the defence looked more confident in front of him.
Now, this newfound defensive confidence could have more to do with the re-partnering of Sakho and James Tomkins. The pair formed a formidable partnership last season, ended by a disgraceful tackle on Tomkins up at Anfield. The understanding between the two seamlessly fell into place and this bodes very well for the rest of the season – if Tomkins can stay fit that is!
In front of the defence was Jairo Riedewald and my word was he good. I don’t think that this man can play centre-back for a team like Palace in the Premier League, but I have no doubt that he could play a pivotal role in the middle of the park. He is composed and strong on the ball and has great vision with a passing range to match. He just ‘gets’ football. He carved the Terriers apart with ease last night and I can only hope that Hodgson is as excited as I am about his prospects in the middle.
Man of the Match: Mamadou Sakho
An interception in the second-half made with his private area, while already on the floor, prevented a certain one on one and pretty much summed up how impassable he was all night.
Up Next: Manchester City Away
Undoubtedly this seems like an impossible task. Lights at the end of the tunnel involve Hodgson having had some more time to get his organisation across, this performance against Huddersfield and the fact that this is the point that City started to wobble last season.
Come on you Palace!