A Fan's View: Albion 0 - 1 Crystal Palace
By Site Editor
Updated Sunday, 27th September 2009
SussexBaggie gives his verdict on Albion's first defeat of the season
Before the game, the crowd was boosted by the news that Jonas Olsson had just signed a new four-year contract. Unfortunately, this is as good as it got for the Albion throughout the game, with many supporters leaving long before the final whistle
We started the game brightly though with Graham Dorrans once again pulling the strings in midfield. However, he was not being assisted as he usually is by Youssouf Mulumbu, who had a surprisingly poor game in central midfield. We won several set-pieces in the opening exchanges, but never really looked like scoring from any of them, which is incredibly disappointing when you consider the players we have and how dangerous they can be at set-pieces.
Palace soon came into the game, with easily their best player, Victor Moses, running rings around Gianni Zuiverloon at right-back. Moses’ pace was causing our defence problems, with neither Zuiverloon nor Gonzalo Jara, who was playing right midfield, able to get close enough to the young winger to make a challenge.
We created only two openings throughout the whole of the first half. One of these was sent high over the bar by Luke Moore, after Zuiverloon had done well to pull the back following a good run down the right wing. The second saw Robert Koren’s shot deflected wide, after more good work by Zuiverloon.
After the break
At half-time it became clear that, whilst Palace weren’t brilliant and only had one player that was causing us any problems, with the way we were playing, it could well be enough to win them the game.
The start of the second-half very nearly proved my theory correct, as Darren Ambrose sent a shot just wide of Scott Carson’s right-hand post.
We soon found our rhythm again, with Luke Moore arguably having our best chance of the game. The ball came to Moore in the penalty area, but his tamely-struck volley was comfortably saved by Julian Speroni, even though Moore only had the goalkeeper to beat. At this point, I’m sure I wasn’t the only supporter in the ground that thought it may just not be our day.
Once again, Palace confirmed my fears about ten minutes later, as they took the lead. There seemed nothing on when Danny Butterfield sent a free-kick from the right wing into the box. However, Shelton Martis missed his header and, although the ball seemed to strike his arm, Alassane N’Diaye’s calm finish was allowed to stand.
At this stage, it seemed as though changes needed to be made on the pitch, as far too many players were playing as poorly as they have all season. Roberto Di Matteo made two substitutions, with Simon Cox and Reuben Reid replacing Luke Moore and Robert Koren.
The substitutions didn’t have the desired effect, though, and we only created one more chance before the end of the game. The chance fell to Reid, who sent his free header narrowly wide of the far post after an excellent cross into the box from Joe Mattock, who picked up the official Man of the Match award.
This kind of result has been coming, as we were lucky to beat Nottingham Forest in our second game of the season, and luck was on our side when we held onto the three points at Peterborough United. We were poor throughout, and wouldn’t have scored if we had played all night.
The most disappointing element of our performance yesterday was that we never looked like scoring. Credit to Palace, as they defended our set-pieces very well, but players such as Dorrans, Koren and Bednar should be causing more problems for a side who will finish no higher mid-table.
Defensively, we looked nervous throughout, with Jonas Olsson holding our defence together throughout the game. Jara started the game on the right side of midfield, but soon got moved to right-back when it became clear that Zuiverloon was not able to contain Moses.
All in all, this is a game that I had a feeling we would struggle in. We never do particularly well against sides managed by Neil Warnock, and that run has now continued. This is when Di Matteo and the players really earn their money, though, as we were never going to stay unbeaten throughout the season, so it is how we react positively to disappointments like yesterday.