A frustrating end to what looked a promising day in the West Midlands. Here's Mark Gardiner's appraisal.
An always interesting game in which the two halves mirrored each other, with relatively early goals from corners and stoppage time penalties, and which on the balance of play ended up with on the face of it a fair result, but where key refereeing decisions cost Palace dearly. Perhaps the clue is in the name – Clatter-burg.
Our defensive record away from home, despite some good individual performances, is looking pretty shocking with two goals a game conceded almost a given, although perhaps the organisation today can be excused a little confusion with two stand-in central defenders. Again we defended too deep for my liking
Neil Warnock sent out a pretty attacking looking unit, with Chamakh in for McArthur in the hole, Zaha replacing Puncheon and Mariappa coming in a centre back for the suspended Delaney. Although West Brom started with plenty of the ball, they were playing exceptionally narrow in midfield; there was no width except that provided by the two full backs, unless Sessegnon or Berahino pulled wide. This meant both Palace wingers had to do a lot of tracking back as our full backs were drawn inside to help the outnumbered centre, and the middle of the pitch was very congested.
It was Bolasie, starting on the left, who provided Palace’s first attacking moments, first choosing to twist when a first time shot looked the obvious option as he cut inside, then a shot hit the side netting. Zaha was quieter to start with but soon started to torment left back Pocognoli and set in play the sequence of events that led to our first goal. He won a free kick wide right, and Ledley’s far post delivery saw Campbell’s looping header turned over the bar by Foster. From the corner Hangeland, at the second attempt, bundled the ball home; most of us were just shocked that Yannick had delivered a decent corner!
Speroni was soon forced into a smart save, turning over Gardner’s shot from distance, but then appeared to flap at a corner and was bailed out by his defence; his vehement claims that his shirt was being tugged were proven valid on replay but there was a suspicion of an old weakness at the time, as he was later glad to find a curling effort from Brunt drift past the far post.
Palace however were proving dangerous on the counter-attack, a Bolasie cross just evading a stretching Campbell, before Zaha went down on the edge of the box; as no one seemed concerned at the time & there were no protests we made nothing of it at the time, but it was probably the most cast-iron of penalties. Bolasie was now tearing down the right, and was soon played in by a through ball from Chamakh only to be brought down by Pocognoli; Jedinak’s penalty kick was clinically despatched.
Albion mad a switch at half time removing Sessegnon for Anichebe; at the time I thought this would play in our favour with a more straightforward physical style instead of clever touches around the box, which just shows why I’m typing this report out and not challenging Jose & Arsene for Manager of the Season! However, unlike last week, Palace did start the second half well, Campbell being played in by Chamakh only to be flagged offside before Wilf won a corner.
Sadly Ledley & Bolasie, with Hangeland & Jedinak waiting in the middle, decided upon a short corner which led to Bolasie losing possession and the defence forced to retreat; still disorganised they allowed Berahino a shot that Speroni turned past the far post. Sadly this was Julian’s penultimate act in the game as from the subsequent corner his head met Dawson’s flying elbow at the same time as his attempted punch bounced off Anichebe’s head into the net.
From 100+ yards away this could not be discerned, but that Julian was prone on the deck & needed several minutes of treatment before even sitting up made it surprising that the goal was allowed to stand. [On later viewing strangely that might have been the correct decision, although Dawson should have received a caution at least, as contact was made after Julian had missed his punch, but most rational people would expect the goal would not stand.] Julian insisted he was fine to carry on but Warnock, perhaps for tactical reasons, decided he should be replaced by Hennessey, making his Palace Premier League debut, and as an ex-Wolves player not the most popular man in Smethwick.
Palace took this setback in their stride, a Bolasie cross just eluding Wilf at the far post, but soon we began that familiar retreat into our own half, restricting us to long range raids lacking support from the midfield or full backs, allowing West Brom to push men deep. We were nearly caught asleep at a free kick, Dorrans’s effort swinging just wide.
In order to add a little more defensive ability with Puncheon in place of Zaha’s more inconsistent brilliance, and the sub soon set up Bolasie only for Yannick’s shot to lack any venom. Gardner seized on a weak clearance from Ward and struck the top of the bar from distance, and Berahino really should have taken advantage of another moment’s hesitation from Mariappa but shot well over after an initial effort was blocked. Guédioura came on for Chamakh: he would waste a good break with a poor shot but nearly played in Campbell. Bolasie again switched to the middle with Campbell going wide right but it didn’t work. However it would be another series of individual errors that led to Albion’s stoppage-time equaliser.
Puncheon had three alternatives when attempting a break from deep inside our half: he could thump the ball well away from danger (the best option); he could seek to turn outside his man (if he lost possession it would be up against the by-line); or he could try to turn inside, lose possession in a dangerous position and see the ball played inside the box to Anichebe... (Guess which option Jason chose.) Might have been a foul but the WBA player could hardly disappear. It looked like half the Palace team were diving in on Anichebe, and Jedinak was ruled to have brought the striker down. Hennessey almost made himself a hero but Berahino’s spot kick was struck just too hard & too accurately. Both sides looked to seize the winner in the few minutes remaining but neither came close.
Speroni – 6 – Two good saves but did appear flustered under crosses after that first shirt-pull; Dawson’s elbow does a good job of distracting from Julian’s weak punch that had already gifted Anichebe a goal, although no keeper should be permitted to face that kind of assault.
Kelly – 7 – Strong showing in the first half when he often had to move inside but kept aware of runs from their left back. Had a harder time in the second when West Brom tried to move the ball wider but stuck to his tack well.
Ward – 6 – Was caught napping early on by Sessegnon, and later made a poor clearance that Dorrans nearly profited from, but in between played well, helped that the only real attacking threat was their right back Wisdom.
Hangeland – 7 – Thought a good solid performance, not embarrassed by Berahino’s pace as I’d feared, and none of those mistakes that had proven costly in earlier appearances. Made some important headed clearances and one crucial block of a goal bound effort. Took his goal well, reacting faster than several defenders. One concern – has he found Lee Sinnott’s head? I just ask as for a big man his standing headers are often awful in their direction.
Mariappa – 7 – Apart from one aberration in the second half when he tried to be too clever and was caught on the ball Adrian had a good game, restricting West Brom mostly to shots from distance.
Jedinak – 7 – Scored a penalty & conceded one, which might just have been a bad decision but going to ground in the box invites trouble; it might have invited a second yellow too. Apart from that put in a strong showing, winning plenty of ball, but again dropped deeper as the game went on.
Ledley – 6 – Does a lot of good work unnoticed. Excellent free kick in the events that led to the first goal. Sadly chose the wrong option from a corner that set in chain the sequence leading to WBA’s first.
Bolasie – 7 – Excellent first half, always dangerous, providing an assist for the first goal with pin-point accuracy from a corner (surely the last thing Foster was expecting) then winning the penalty. Slightly blotted his copybook in the second, losing possession allowing WBA to set up the attack that led to their first goal. Didn’t supply the same outlet in the second half in part as the midfield was often deep but nearly set up efforts for Campbell & Zaha, and provided a weak shot when well placed.
Zaha – 6 – Quiet game, only winning a dangerous free kick that Palace would ultimately profit from, and then being tripped for what should have been the first penalty. Still managed to give both Wisdom & Pocognoli nightmares while not at his best. Also helped out Kelly down the right, covering their advanced left back’s runs and winning the odd defensive challenge. As Palace fell back he saw less of the ball & was withdrawn.
Chamakh – 7 – Showed his class when setting Bolasie free to win his penalty and generally held the ball up well, something we have missed. Faded in the second half perhaps through lack of match fitness.
Campbell – 6 – Worked hard, earning a thump across the head from Lescott, but was denied any real chances, just failing to meet an excellent Bolasie cross in the first half then just caught offside when played in early in the second. Another looping header won the corner for Hangeland’s goal.
Hennessey – 6 – Only had one cross to take, which he juggled & caught at the second attempt. Can’t remember a save and perhaps needs to grow a few inches to save penalties like Berahino’s.
Puncheon – 6 – Came on and was immediately influential, making chances down both flanks. Sadly helped throw away two points with poor decision making when deep in his own half.
Guédioura – 5 – Sadly missed a good late chance to make it 3-1, very similar to one he missed in the Cup game earlier this year. Had some good touches but didn’t provide that little extra security we needed.
Crystal Palace could be set for a change in ownership after almost four-and-a-half years under CPFC2010, with US business news website Bloomberg claiming that talks are underway with an American businessman.
Bloomberg claims a deal is close to being struck between CPFC2010 and Joshua Harris, who co-founded Apollo Global Management LLC.
The American is estimated to be worth $2.7bn, and last year was ranked the 654th richest man, and bought NBA team Philadelphia 76ers as part of a consortium for $280m in 2011, also acquiring Ice Hockey team New Jersey Devils in 2013 for $320m.
The 49-year-old is also a former wrestler, but prefers to spend his time as Senior Managing Director of Apollo, whilst also partaking in Marathons and triathlons.
He was rumoured to be interested in purchasing Charlton Athletic and, this summer, Aston Villa but no bid was made.
It remains to be seen whether Harris is set to take the ownership of Crystal Palace, but CPFC2010 has always said if the right bidder came along they would consider selling the club, having been reluctant owners in June 2010.
The Mirror is reporting that Palace claim to know nothing about the prospective takeover.
Palace fans have (again) been voted the best atmosphere around; but where do they come in the other categories?
A recent nationwide survey by Scotts Menswear of the best football away-day experiences has rightly concluded that Selhurst Park has the best atmosphere, bar none in the country, nay the world and probably beyond. And who could argue with that?
Inspired by the Holmesdale Fanatics, our support is legendary and revered by visiting away fans and also home fans when the Red & Blue Army are in their manor. So this is clearly a very creditable survey.
Although I do take slight issue with the first category, as Wembley being the best overall away-day experience. Technically this is incorrect, My last visit to the "home of football" was the best home-day experience, albeit a nerve shredding one. The noise level coming from the Palace half was unrelenting as testified by my Watford supporting mate who had to endure a rather quiet time in the yellow end.
Try as I may, I'm seriously struggling to make the case in the best pie category as coming from SE25. Mrs Poole certainly looks to make exceedingly good pies and I salute her. So fair play, Wigan gets it on the pie stakes.
So the best pint is to be found in the pubs of Derby is it? True there are some excellent beers from that neck of the woods but this is very subjective category, given less credence by the fact that brighton was voted as the third best place to have a pint, (or a short measure in my case during my last visit). Has anyone discovered a pub anywhere remotely near that shiny tin shack, aka the amex? Best have a beer in SE25 then proceed by train, though not for some time eh?
The Emirates having the best away stand in the country is contentious. Possibly, if you're from the new generation of gentrified "footy" fans with a six figure salary. Personally I'd suggest the best away stand is to be found in SE25 with all its old fashioned short comings. And when the sun gets in your eyes, you can turn your gaze to the left and be in awe of the best fans in the country.
Finally, Liverpool fans are deemed to be the worst dressed.
Yes this is clearly a very creditable survey.