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]
Good evening everyone, got your breath back after that frightening second half?
Yikes, that took some sitting through. I was pretty pleased to be 2-0 up at half-time after goals from Tom Soares (ably setup by Scott Sinclair) and Jose Fonte (with a scorcher of a volley), although I might have changed that view after seeing us sit back and invite Stoke to attack us during the second half.
As it turned out all Stoke could muster in reply was their own thunderbolt from Glen Whelan, and while that provided us with an even more uncomfortable last few minutes it wasn’t enough to stop us from leaving the Britannia Stadium with three points.
Neil Warnock summarised the result by saying, “It’s not easy coming to Stoke, you know you are going to be very physically tested throughout. I thought we played some great football at times and we scored a couple of good goals too, which helped.”
Best of all, we’re back in the play-off places. With 4 games to go can we stay there?
Stoke City 1-2 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
Did you ever play football at school, and continued to play past an end-of-break bell until someone scored? Well something similar happened to Palace tonight.
With a supposed four minutes of time added on played and Palace leading 1-0 referee Richard Beeby allowed play to continue, letting Bristol City take a corner which was headed in by Jamie McCombe.
After a poor first half we were good value for our lead. We played positively in the second half, taking the lead through Lee Hills’ superbly-taken volley (his first goal for the club). While Bristol City had a lot of possession they didn’t threaten very often, although Julian Speroni did have to make a fabulous double-save from Bradley Orr’s controversially-awarded penalty.
Ultimately it is a good result, but the ending left more than a bitter taste in the mouth. When the overdue final whistle went Neil Warnock went onto the pitch in an attempt to keep Palace players away from the referee, where he presumably also made a few points on their behalf.
Bristol City 1 – 1 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
Looking back tonight’s 1-0 defeat at Leicester City seemed like an all-too-familiar story which we all remember.
- Palace playing below their best against Leicester City – check.
- Despite a poor performance, Palace seem to hold on with relative ease – check.
- In the dying moments a Leicester player scores the winner off their shin – check.
Thankfully for those of us who still have scars from the 1996 play-off final this was just a league game, and the winner was scored by Barry Hayles, not Steve Claridge. Still not a happy night though.
Leicester City 1-0 Crystal Palace [BBC Sport]
It was another night where it looked like we would have a difficult job to get a positive result, and so it proved as league leaders Watford ran out 2-0 winners. It was depressingly familiar to the play-off defeat of eighteen months ago (Marlon King scores, check, we don’t, check, all to easy for Watford, check). Not an enjoyable night’s viewing.
The match will remain notable though for the debut of youngster John Bostock, who is still just 15 years old, making him the youngest player to ever appear in a Palace shirt. He was brought on with eighteen minutes still to go with Watford already two ahead, so it seems a bit gimmicky to me (especially with the Sky cameras on hand). Hopefully though it is the start of a long and successful career at Selhurst Park for Bostock.
(At least we’re not talking about how we’re still in the bottom three. D’oh!)
Crystal Palace 0-2 Watford [BBC Sport]
Ugh. Horrific game. We were dismal, second to everything, not much effort, it really looked as if a lot of players didn’t particularly care about the result and it was probably down to Julian Speroni alone that we didn’t suffer a heavier defeat. All this on a day when we could have gone equal top of the table, not that you’d have thought that on this performance.
Today was one of those games which really frustrated me, with the final straw being the substitution of Clinton Morrison when we were looking for a goal. Who else in our colours (which somehow continue to look worse and worse on each viewing recently) is more likely to score a goal for us?
Not a good day to be a Palace fan. That took a good forty-five minutes of dog walking to wind down from.