Walking into the Sports Cafe in Glasgow tonight to meet BBSers Marshy and Gosling I can’t say I was particularly optimistic about the ninety minutes that was ahead of us. That didn’t really improve when the sleepy abode refused to turn down the music and let us watch the game with commentary.
At least our evening took a turn for the better when Ben Watson took advantage of some defensive uncertainty to head into an open goal from outside the penalty area on 24 minutes. We went into the break 1-0 up on the night, back level on aggregate.
The second half became a nervy, yet exciting affair, and 18 minutes from time we were presented with a golden opportunity to take the lead after Tom Soares was upended in the box by Nick Carle. Just like Saturday Ben Watson took the penalty, but unlike Saturday this time he succeeded in only smacking the ball against the post. It was inches away from being a perfect penalty, but it wasn’t good enough.
(N.B. When you don’t want to watch something on a TV during a sporting event don’t go to a Sports Cafe. It’s impossible to miss any action. Trust me, I tried.)
We were still trying to win the game though, with a very attacking lineup on the field. However towards the end of the game we were tiring, and the game was nearly settled in normal time when City’s Lee Trundle hit the bar when he tried to lob Julian Speroni.
In extra time we appeared to visibly tire. Soon enough Trundle gave City the lead with a thunderous left foot volley, before Michael McIndoe sealed in the game in the second half with a howitzer of a free kick.
As the game petered away at least we had a team we could be proud of. At this point though I’d like to say how well Ben Watson played. He was simply immense, covering every blade of grass and being at the centre of our best attacks. If does leave in the summer (he is probably our most valuable asset at this point) I hope he isn’t remembered for the penalty miss, because he deserved far better than that on this night.
Bristol City 2-1 Crystal Palace (AET, City win 4-2 on aggregate) [BBC Sport]
Great, just like two years ago. Another bad time to pick to play badly at home in the first leg of a play-off semi final.
The good news? Despite our poor performance at least a 2-1 deficit is retrievable, unlike the mountain we gave ourselves to climb against Watford.
Texting my best friend back and forth during the first half we both agreed that Bristol City looked like the better team, and early in the second half that proved to be the case when Louis Carey gave City the lead from a cleverly worked free kick.
We didn’t appear to be troubling City too much, but then in the closing minutes came a lifeline. With Jose Fonte called upon to take up an emergency striker’s role he earned a penalty when he was brought down by Carey. Ben Watson – as has become his custom – stuck the penalty away well.
Unfortunately that wouldn’t be enough, as in injury time City’s David Noble scored the goal of his life from fully thirty yards, giving Julian Speroni no chance.
It isn’t an ideal situation, but at least we’re within touching distance. However to get anything at Ashton Gate we’re going to have to play a whole lot better than we did today.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Bristol City [BBC Sport]
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]
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]
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]
On a rare trip down South I was lucky enough to take the opportunity to get to Selhurst last night. Well, lucky if you don’t mention that it was absolutely freezing cold in SE25 last night, and probably more so if (like me) you were in the upper tier of the Holmesdale. I came away with a desperate need to thaw out, but also optimistic about our future.
Continue reading Freezing But Full of Hope
Not the way you’d like to follow-up your first defeat in a fair while. Having taken the lead in the final twenty minutes through James Scowcroft we then had Ben Watson hit the woodwork twice, only for Shaun Derry to lose possession and have Southampton work a move which ended with Stern John levelling the scores.
It was the concession of possession which appeared to annoy Neil Warnock the most. “We got punished with an elementary defensive error by Shaun Derry,” he said after the game, adding that Derry, “is one of our most experienced players.”
This is our last Saturday game for three weeks. Next Friday we head to The Valley for the return game with Charlton.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Southampton [BBC Sport]
Another game without defeat, this time at Barnsley yesterday. The 0-0 result is our second clean sheet under Warnock, and our eighth successive game without defeat. Our best chances fell to Clinton Morrison, Shaun Derry and Ben Watson, but none of these resulted in a breakthrough and we had to settle for a point.
We’re now 15th in the table with 25 points. If you’re a pessimist (like yours truly) you’ll want to know that our points tally is five more than third-from-bottom Colchester United.
Barnsley 0-0 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
Another away draw last night, this one a 1-1 affair with Cardiff City at Ninian Park. Darren Purse opened the scoring for Cardiff, before Ben Watson equalised for Palace from the penalty spot just before half-time.
Vaguely related to the action on the pitch, it seems that on-loan Cardiff goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel managed to wind up the visiting Palace support. Lovely stuff.
Next up for Palace is a home game with QPR. The six-pointers seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment. We need to start winning a few of them.
Cardiff City 1-1 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
Palace 1-1 Cardiff Player ratings [cpfc.org]
Yikes, I wouldn’t say that this win was a long time in coming, but I was beginning to think we were still in the Premiership. Speaking of being in the Premiership, at least this time we could rely on a Bryan Robson-managed team to do what they ought to, as his Sheffield United side were on the wrong end of our 3-2 win.
Our win was sealed in the closing minutes with a Ben Watson penalty, with our earlier goals coming from Tom Soares and Carl Fletcher. All the goals came after half-time. A welcome win, and a welcome jump up the table as well (we’re now 15th).
Crystal Palace 3-2 Sheffield United [BBC Sport]