To summarise, any fan's view on Saturday wouldn’t be a positive one. That’s just how bad we were.
I travelled down straight after work at 4pm Friday and the 160 mile trip took just over 3 hours arriving at just after 7pm in Croydon. We checked into the hotel and then went for a few beers and a curry whilst discussing our chances of our second away win of the season, and a much needed 3 points.I travelled with 2 friends and neither one of us predicted a win, but fancied us for at least a point.
We woke up on Saturday with optimism that we could get a result and went to a Weatherspoon’s for a few pre match drinks about a 10 minute walk from the ground. Liverpool thrashed Arsenal on the lunch time kick off which made our result last week look even better!
The teams were out and from my own view, I was quite pleased with the team we had selected. The game started and within a few minutes we should have been 1-0 ahead when Chris Brunt played a defence splitting pass which resulted in Victor Anichebe being one on one with Julian Speroni but fired a tame effort straight at the keeper, with the game remaining goalless.
However, just moments later Youssouf Mulumbu was forced to clear off his line after a Joel Ward corner caused havoc when the ball struck Brunt and headed goalwards.From the start of the game, we had plenty of possession with Crystal Palace seeming quite content with sitting back and letting us have the ball in areas that could not harm them, but then pressurised us for the ball once we got into the last third.
Palace took the lead about 15 minutes into the game when a ball forward was flicked on by Marouane Chamkah into the path of Yannick Bolasie, and after the ball ran free Tom Ince, who had run from deep, latched onto it and clipped it over the sliding Ben Foster.
We then struggled even more to create any chances with several high balls being pumped forward to Victor Anichebe who lacked support, and a good first touch. We had a great chance to equalise 25 minutes in when a Brunt corner was swung in towards the back post when Gareth Mccauley headed back across the goal which Dawson hit a first time volley but cleared the bar and nearly the first tier of the stand. Just moments later, Palace doubled their lead when they won a corner of their own on the right and Ince swung it into a dangerous position to find the unmarked Joe Ledley who headed right into the net to make it 2-0.
The first half finished 2-0 with it being one of the poorest first halves I have witnessed this season.
After the break
Pepe Mel decided to make a double change at half time with Scott Sinclair replacing Liam Ridgewell, and new signing Thievy Bifouma replacing Zoltan Gera. Within 45 seconds of the restart, Bifouma picked up the ball who skipped past Bolasie and fed the ball into Anichebe, who returned the favour and Thievy hit it first time into Speroni’s near post to give us Baggies some renewed hope of a comeback!
We then seemed to move up a gear and dominated posession. James Morrison hit a poweful shot which looked like it was heading into Speroni’s top corner but a decent save forced it away for a corner to the Baggies.
Brunt swung another corner in, which wasn’t effectively cleared but Mulumbu drove it back into the box which resulted in yet more pinball but fell to Scott Sinclair who fired a shot 5 yards out but an impressive save from Speroni somehow kept the game at 2-1.
The saved proved vital as Palace broke away as Chamakh raced towards goal before being brought down by Foster. We was at the other end of the ground, and I thought at the time that Foster got the ball and Match of the Day proved my point later on in the night. However, Chamakh took the resulting penalty and stroked the ball into Right side of the net to effectively make it mission impossible for Albion.
Pepe Mel made his final change by bringing on Saido Berahino for Claudio Yacob, but no comeback could be created as we suffered our tenth defeat of the season.
Foster – 6/10 – Couldn’t really do anything for the goals and was unlucky to have conceded a penalty.
Ridgewell – 4/10 – Seemed to be more bothered about complaining to the linesman when ever he could and offered little support going forward.
Dawson 5/10 – Didn’t look to have improved much since his premier league debut away at Swansea but all of the back four had a bad day.
Mccauley 5/10 – Won several headers in the air against Chamakh but struggled for majority of the afternoon.
Jones 5/10 – Possibley our player of the season so far but again, had a bad afternoon and offered little support.
Brunt 7/10 – One of our better performers. I think he has put a few decent displays in lately.
Yacob – 5/10 – Few interceptions but offered little support to the back 4.
Mulumbu 5/10 – Poor, and when the simple ball was available he chose more difficult passes which resulted in losing posession.
Morrison 6/10 – Provided a few decent touches and one of the better performers in the first half but faded.
Anichebe – 5/10 – Received little support first half and looked better 2nd half with Thievy offering support but various times his touch let him down and lost posession.
Thievy – 7/10 – Offered more attacking threat and took goal well.
Sinclair 4/10 – Should have scored but did nothing else.
Berahino 5/10 – Tries shooting from difficult angles too often.
Next Match – Chelsea (H) – Tuesday 11th February – 8PM KO.
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