Today is one of those days where I feel daft for worrying. Prior to kick-off at Selhurst Park and knowing that a win would assure us of a play-off place I somehow felt that we typically wouldn’t make it that easy on ourselves. But what do I know? I’ve only followed this team for eighteen years now.
So unusally for us we just about secured our win within the first ten minutes, as Clarke Carlisle was sent off in the sixth minute for a professional foul on Scott Sinclair and Ben Watson dispatched the resulting penalty. Two minutes later Victor Moses made it 2-0 and the game was effectively up.
Tom Soares made it 3-0 before half-time before Sinclair and Clinton Morrison brought the final score to 5-0.
So we’re in the play-offs having finished fifth. How big an achievement is it for Warnock? Let’s let him analyse that himself. “I can’t think of a better achievement in my career. To go from second bottom in November into the play-offs, never mind winning them, is a great effort from all the lads.”
Winning the play-offs would be even better. For that our first obstacle is Bristol City, who come to Selhurst Park next Saturday.
Crystal Palace 5-0 Burnley [BBC Sport]
Well, perhaps it was a bit much to expect us to win all our games in April, not that it makes today’s 2-1 defeat at automatic promotion-chasing Hull City any more bearable. That Hull’s winner from Ian Ashbee came in the dying minutes, and that it seemed to be so celebrated by Sky Sports News report Peter Beagrie really didn’t help matters. Earlier had Scott Sinclair scored Palace’s equaliser.
So what do we need to do now? Well the maths are simple and our destiny is entirely in our own hands. If we beat Burnley next Sunday at Selhurst Park we’re in the play-offs. Neil Warnock mused, “The pleasing thing is that it is still in our hands to make the play-offs. No-one can complain if we don’t make the play-offs, because we’ve given it a fantastic shot.”
Which I suspect doesn’t mean that he’ll be anything other than disappointed if we fail to win our last game of the season.
Hull City 2-1 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
Who would have expected April to go this well? I know I didn’t, not with trips to Stoke, Watfod and Hull on the horizon. We started the month by beating Stoke, and after our solitary home game we have continued by beating Watford 2-0 at Vicarage Road yesterday.
Anyone who wasn’t there had the opportunity to see the action as the game was the featured match on The Championship this morning. Late goals from Paul Ifill and Victor Moses provided our margin of victory, leaving Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd to complain that his team “should have won 4-0.” Rrrrright.
Meanwhile Neil Warnock could only comment on how far the team has come since he took over. “I couldn’t see us scoring a goal never mind getting a win. We were in the mire but we have changed attitudes and gone on this run.” I find the reference to attitudes interesting as it is largely the same players we had prior to his arrival who have been on the pitch during the turnaround.
Watford 0-2 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
At a time in the season where consistency is key Palace (of all teams!) seem to have discovered it. Yesterday we beat Scunthorpe 2-0 at Selhurst Park, with first-half goals from Tom Soares and Clinton Morrison both securing another three points for us as well as relegating the visitors out of the Championship.
Neil Warnock was a happy man after the game, saying “We all know it’s going to go right down to the wire. We badly needed the three points and I would have settled for winning 1-0 and playing poorly. As it turned out, we played very well and could have scored more goals.”
Now come another two difficult games, as in the next two weeks we visit fellow play-off candidates Watford and Hull City.
Crystal Palace 2-0 Scunthorpe [BBC Sport]
Call it a personal thing, but when we don’t beat the team which was promoted through the play-offs I tend to think we’re underachieving. And despite what Neil Warnock claimed were two certain penalties we were denied a victory against last year’s league one play-off winners, Blackpool.
Today also saw the debuts of loan signings Scott Sinclair (from Chelsea – he was also booked for a supposed dive which Warnock disputed), Kyel Reid (West Ham) and Nathan Ashton (Fulham – he was substituted at half-time after taking a knock in the first half).
Unfortunately we now only have five games left, and three of those are away against teams in the top six. These games are at Hull (April 26th), Watford (19th) and Stoke City (next Monday night, live on Sky). It isn’t the run-in you want when you need points to break into the top-six.
Crystal Palace 0-0 Blackpool [BBC Sport]
Kind of typical late Saturday afternoon if (like me) you can’t get to a lot of games. Sky Sports News on, Soccer Saturday with all the updates. As is seemingly usual, we’re one of the last results to come in.
It’s about ten to five, I’ve given up on us coming back from 2-1 down when we’re taken to Hillsborough.
The sorrow in Scott Minto’s face is clear to see. We’ve equalised, thanks to Matt Lawrence. The bitter ex-Charlton man can’t believe it. Almost worth dropping two points for. I suspect that Neil Warnock – in front of the Wednesday fans who hate him – quite enjoyed that too.
Our other goal was scored by Ben Watson from a free-kick. For anyone who missed it on the ITV Championship Goals programme this morning let me tell you, it was a peach! It really showed what he is capable of from set-pieces. Hopefully we’ll see plenty more to come from him.
Sheffield Wednesday 2-2 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
After yesterday’s 2-0 win at home against Barnsley we’re now just a point off the play-offs again. It seems we’re coming into form at a good time, with Neil Warnock praising our, “great team spirit and a will to keep our own goal intact.” Both of our goals came in the second half, with the scorers being Tom Soares and James Scowcroft.
Can we continue on this run and manage to be in the top six at the season’s end? Let’s hope so.
Finally, in a footnote that might only interest me, Jon Macken again proved what a duff buy he was by returning and somehow not scoring against us. On top of that he was also booked and substituted. Magnifico!
Crystal Palace 2-0 Barnsley [BBC Sport]
Some good viewing on Sky Sports News last night for those of us who were watching scores coming in (I can’t listen to the radio feeds, the combination of lulls in action followed by heart-stopping terror isn’t a good mix in my experience). Thanks to Victor Moses’ 55th minute equaliser we managed to get a 1-1 draw at West Brom, meaning that in our two games with them this year they haven’t been able to beat us.
Arguably with three points available for a win we’d have been better off winning one and losing one to West Brom, but in this case a draw means that we’ve been a match for the team widely considered to be the best in division (they currently sit fourth, but if they win their two games in hand they’ll be top again – providing they don’t get too caught up in a cup run I think they’re the one certainty to go up this year).
Neil Warnock summarised the game by saying, “To come to a place like this, a super stadium, the crowd gets behind the team, and to cope with that and the pressures of the situation can only stand them [the squad] in good stead. I think it’s excellent for them. I think the West Brom fans knew they were in for a game, so it was good tonight.”
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
As nice as it was to actualy be at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night, I have to say I do prefer being able to report on a Palace. Thankfully another of these came yesterday, as beat Colchester United 2-1 at Selhurst Park.
Our goals on this occasion came from a Phil Ifil own goal, and a winner from Ben Watson about fifteen minutes from time. Kevin Lisbie had equalised for Colchester and had another potential equaliser ruled out for offside late on.
Neil Warnock stated how far the club had come over the course of the season following the game. “I’m going to crack open a bottle of champagne tonight because now we’re safe,” he said. While we’ve now reached 53 points we can hopefully look in a different direction again, as we’re just three points behind sixth-placed Hull City, although we are also behind sixth-placed Plymouth and seventh-placed Ipswich as well.
Crystal Palace 2-1 Colchester United [BBC Sport]
Combine a few injuries and suspensions, a player falling out of favour, a forced injection of youth and a trip to a usual bogey ground and what would you expect? Well in fairness you probably wouldn’t expect a 1-0 victory at Preston North End.
A side which featured Victor Moses in place of the suspended James Scowcroft and ahead of the disgraced Shefki Kuqi got a winner with a 76th minute header from Clinton Morrison. The performance led Neil Warnock to say, “It’s probably one of the best team performances of the season. Everyone was very good in their own right.”
Preston North End 0-1 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]