Previously goal shy Palace sting the hornets!

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Saturday February 18th 2012, KO 15:00 at Selhurst Park, The Championship.

Crystal Palace 4-0 Watford, ht 2-0, Attendance  13,324, Programme £3.

Admission > Season Ticket.  Coffee > £2. 

The look on Jermaine Easter’s face on the front cover of the programme was probably mirrored by a good number of Palace fans at 5pm last Saturday evening as Palace put in one of the most impressive performances of the season so far, and scored 4 goals in a game for the first team since we entertained Portsmouth in September 2010 ( 4-1).  I’d vowed in my introduction to this blog site to not write about Palace too often, but I thought a 4-0 home win was a good a time as any to put finger to keyboard!

Palace went into this games with some good form, but not with points to back it up. As the previous three  results had been a 1-1 home draw with arch rivals Brighton, a 0-0 away draw at play off hopefuls Middlesbrough, where apparently we had put in one of our best performances of the season, and then a 2-2 draw at Bristol City where’d we’d let a 2 goal lead slip, to grab a draw from the jaws of victory as City equalised in injury time.

Although season 11-12 has already been a massive improvement on the previous two seasons, there had been a slight growing dissatisfaction amongst the fans with our rather negative midfield formation. With boss Dougie Freedman favouring two holding central midfield players in KG and Mile Jedinak. This has tended to have made us difficult to score goals against and beat, but has also at the same time seemed to have hindered the supply to the front two, therefore our goal ‘scored’ ratio has been pretty low this season. To be fair to the manager has had to contend with long-term injury to young Wales U/21 International Jonathan Williams and mixed form from Owen Garvan when selected. But others have felt that Stuart O’Keefe should have been given more opportunities, especially for home games. Anyway for this game, we continued with KG and Jedinak in central midfield, and on a wet and windy February afternoon, most Palace fans would have been happy just to record our first 3 points of 2012.

The first 15 minutes of the game produced the normal display of Palace sitting back, and allowing Watford to dominate possession in the centre of the park with ex Dundee winger Craig Forsyth (who I’d seen play for the Dee last April) looking lively on the left-wing. However, slowly Palace came into the game, and in the 21st minute a good run and cross down the right-wing from Jermaine Easter, fell at feet of the unmarked wonder kid Wilfried Zaha at the far left post (2 days after his call up the Eng U/21 squad), who made no mistake from about 10 yards, slotting on the bottom left corner touching keeper and possibly post as well on the way in, 1-0.

You’d have thought the Hornets would have learnt their lesson, but no, as in the 38th minute a ball into the penalty area found Chris Martin unmarked again for an easy header passed Scott Loach, 2-0 🙂
I’m sure other fans are no different to Palace people, but at HT 2-0 up, we fully expected to come under serious pressure and be biting nails until the 95th minute. BUT, rather unusually for us, and for the first time in quite a while, soon after the HT break we scored a 3rd! Ambrose dinked a free kick into the area in the 51st minute, Easter was unmarked (again), he flicked on to Chris Martin to score his second, much to the delight of the faithful in the Holmesdale stand, 3-0, joy all round!
The Crystal girls and 'Kayla' the Eagle watch the team emerge for the 2nd half.
Then in the 64th minute Kagisho Dikgacoi (KG) added a fourth through a crowded penalty area, the Palace end were now re-enacting the Jermaine Easter programme face 🙂 and the man on the PA implored us to shout back the scorers surname, “And the scorer of the 4th Palace goal IS K……. response from the crowd “Geeeeeeeee”.
The Watford comeback didn’t really ever occur, and their poor away following of about 1,000 became very quiet in their corner of the Arthur Wait stand, many leaving well before the final whistle.
More pressure on the Watford goal.
Although some of the crowd were now calling for more “We want five”, and although we dominated the last 25 minutes, and a number of half chances were created, that fifth goal proved elusive. But hey, after such a long goal drought, 4 was plenty, and we all trudged out onto the wet Selhurst streets with a smile on our lips, and hope (for the future) in our hearts!
Palace and Watford under the Selhurst Park candles.

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