Normally its us who are on the end of late strikes closer to the 100 minute mark than the 90 resulting in dropped points. But how sweet last night was;each fan has their own tale of celebrating wildly and excessively from the upper Holmesdale down to the boys on the pitch.
Me? I began by embracing my dad until 3 burly men danced along towards us and along with a steward who was caught up in the hysteria, jumped around manically in the upper tier. Normally you’d think twice about parading around with 4 strangers in public and sharing such emotion. Not last night as Jermaine Easter toe poked the winner in the 96th minute sending us crazier than Neil Warnock’s belief of survival.
It’s rather rosy in South London this morning. 5th in the table and not due to alphabetical order. Yes, it is nose-bleed territory for us Eagles but 6 points from 9 games is reason to be cheerful (for once). It certainly beats fending off the bottom dwellers, using Calvin Andrew as a stick.
Plus these two victories mean that its a 100% start at home with Burnley and Coventry deservedly beaten and our superb form at Selhurst brought through from last season. Sean Scannell is on fire with 2 strikes for the campaign already and our other academy products look as if they are going to enjoy the coming season. Young Jon Williams is the latest off of the illustrious production line and someone who caused problems in the Coventry backline prior to Scannell’s equaliser.
Wilf Zaha may have seen his two strikes saved but he too proved his trickery can cause masses of problems for full backs everywhere as he helped the scrambles that resulted in our two goals last night. On the other flank, Jonathan Parr seems to be enjoying his freedom and battling soundly to close opposition down and win back possession.
Yet for long periods of last night our tactics were blunted by Coventry who refused to budge and kept their shape well. They allowed us to maneuver the ball around but continuously it was left to Paddy McCarthy to lump it forwards to grateful Sky Blue defenders. If we continue to deploy this system then Iversen cannot return quick enough.
Even with Owen Garvan being afforded more time than some of our loanees have with the club in the middle of the park, the key pass seemed to elude us and frustration caused more hopeful hoofs towards a helpless Scannell. For much of the game we were outbattled in possession and weak in the challenges.
And what was KG doing on the wing? He’s about as much of a winger as Pete the Eagle and without Clyne racing past him on the overlap, we’re stuck with the negative Ramage who takes the ball to the halfway line and freezes. How we miss our two full backs surging forwards, although after his assist on Saturday, Ryan McGivern has proved to be an astute temporary addition to the team.
Plus credit has to go to McCarthy too; not only has he noticeably improved his technique in the close season but he has had to adapt to having 3 of his back four on 28 day deals! The Irishman also appears to be stronger and faster and in control of his defence, much of that down to a whole close season with ex-captain Tony Popovic.
We may have only lost Danns in the summer (I say only, it could have been worse!) and the likes of Speroni, Clyne, Ambrose and Zaha remain – but with injuries to two of those and a rare gaffe last night from hero Jules, one of Parr, Garvan, Jedinak or Scannell really need to step up and become a vital and consistent part of this Palace team.
We lacked creativity in midfield last night as you felt the only two people able to change the match were Scannell and Zaha as Garvan seemingly picked up an injury near the end. Lest we forget, for 90 long minutes we managed few attempts on target with their keeper rarely troubled.
It’s early days so far, the midfield and defence need to gel and some signings have yet still to occur with Anthony Gardener rumoured to be 90% signed and Antonio Pedroza on trial currently, but at least a platform is there to build upon; Selhurst is a fortress, Dougie has had a full pre-season under his belt and we have players returning from injury who add depth to the squad in Clyne, Moxey and Iversen.
Just the dreaded away form to sort out!