Crystal Palace entertained Stoke City today but both teams forgot to entertain the watching public who decided to give up their time to view the match.
|Crystal Palace||2-1||Stoke City|
|Tomkins 84′||Yellow Cards||Wimmer 63′|
|Loftus-Cheek 56′, Sakho 90+2′||Goal Scorers||Shaqiri 53′|
The Expat Eagle’s Verdict
Playing Stoke City at Selhurst, under the lights on a cold winter’s evening brings back memories for me. It was the same fixture in January 1981 that I saw my first Palace game, on what was the mud bank at the Whitehorse Lane end. That game ended 1-1 and I thought today’s game was heading that way too.
I have to admit, I started writing this with 2 minutes of normal time remaining and I was regretting my decision to get out of bed. Last night I got a gallstone attack and from 22.00 until this morning I had been in excruciating pain. It was the kind of pain where you seriously contemplate death as a form of pain relief because nothing eases it. You can’t sit or lay in any position. It just hurts!
“If karma exists then Palace will play well and win today!” I reasoned. But life doesn’t work like that, or does it? I don’t believe in karma but at the moment I’m clinging on to anything I can to help us get out of the position we’re in. However, when the team sheet pinged up on my Twitter feed to reveal Wayne Hennessey had replaced Julian Speroni in goal I doubted it’s existence even more. It was later revealed the reason Hennessey was picked was that Roy preferred him for his extra height…
I debated if I should get up to sit in front of my computer to watch the game, which isn’t the most comfortable position to be in if you have gallbladder pain! But this is Palace. In the past, I’ve dragged myself down to Brighton when I was on crutches so plonking myself in front of my computer isn’t a hardship. The pain had eased quite a bit so I managed to force half a banana and a few sips of water down my throat. In fact, they were the first things to pass my lips in the right direction since before the pain arrived last night.
As the clock was ticking down and I began writing I was well past wishing I’d not bothered. The game was between two teams desperate for a win, Palace more needing it more than Stoke, and it showed. In the first half, the two commentators kept trying to convince me that, for a 0-0 it was an exciting game. I can only assume they don’t get out much.
Palace started with Zaha and Townsend up front then proceeded to loft balls up to the pair who were having to deal with 3 central defenders who were over 6-feet tall. We were never going to get any joy so our midfield proceeded to try long-range shots which didn’t trouble the Stoke goalkeeper.
The second half wasn’t a lot better. We brought on Benteke so there was someone who could challenge the Stoke centre-backs and act as a focal point for the balls we were launching forward. Stoke for their part was not more threatening so it came as a surprise when they scored.
I say surprise but, well, it’s Palace so maybe it wasn’t. Shaqiri picked up the ball just in our half and dribbled from right to left unchallenged past five of our players and unleashed a left-foot shot from just outside the box. I felt Hennessey should have done a lot better as he appeared to throw himself to the floor instead of diving outstretched, which had he done he might have saved the shot.
It’s easy to criticise Hennessey but had it been Speroni I’d make the same criticism. If you have read any of my previous match opinion pieces you’d see I have been equally critical of him too. It was interesting that both Speroni and Dann were dropped for this game after their balls-up last week versus Everton.
I was fearing that we were staring a defeat in the face when Townsend put a speculative cross into the box. Two Stoke defenders and a Palace player missed it but Ruben Loftus-Cheek was at the far post to put the ball into the net.
It has to be said that up until that moment Loftus-Cheek has been having a very poor game and a goal doesn’t make up for that. Well, not in my opinion. Yes, the lad is young but he can’t go having a poor game against poor opposition if he is a serious contender to be on the plane to Russia next summer. I am very surprised WhoScored has given Loftus-Cheek a rating of 7.2, which I can only imagine is because he scored.
The rest of the game continued in much the same vein as previous 53 minutes until the three minutes of goal action. We didn’t look any more likely to score than Stoke and I was thinking of putting a fiver on the game not featuring at all on Match of The Day let alone being last.
So with the clock ticking to 90 minutes, I began to write this. Zaha produced a bit of magic on the left-hand side of the box, not once but twice. The second time the ball found it’s way to the right side of the box where Cabaye had a shot that struck the post. The ball rebounded back into the 6-yard box where Mamadou Sakho was on hand to put the ball into the net for his first goal for the Palace.
I cursed. I knew I’d have to rewrite most of this article but I began thinking once again about karma. Maybe, just maybe my 16 hours of suffering paid off after all?
As I finish writing this the remnants of my pain have eased and I am thinking about trying to eat something more than a banana. Would I endure the pain again if it meant us putting one over Brighton on Tuesday?
Are you bloody mad? No, I never want to go through that pain again… But come Monday evening after I’ve had 2 days to forget about how bad it was I might give you a different answer!
I’m off back to my ‘sick bed’ so apologies for any typos or grammatical mistakes. Up the Palace!
Verdict: A dire game resulting in a last-gasp victory for Palace. We either play well and don’t win or play poorly and win. I know which I’d rather have on Tuesday!
|Crystal Palace (442)||6.98||Stoke City (3421)||6.72|
Match rating courtesy of WhoScored.
|Ball Possession %
Match statistics courtesy of WhoScored.