Away Block Report: Norwich City 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

By - Sunday 1st December, 2013

Tony Pulis oversaw defeat for Palace in his first game in charge

Photo by Dave Gunn, used under Creative Commons.

Despite the justified pre-match optimism, defeat at fellow strugglers Norwich City proved there is considerable work to be done by Palace’s new Welsh manager if the Eagles are to remain in the Premier League after the end of the season.

Pulis made two changes from the side which beat Hull City last week, one enforced after Yannick Bolasie’s red card was not overturned under appeal – the Congolese winger replaced by Jason Puncheon – whilst Cameron Jerome was rewarded with a start, replacing Dwight Gayle, after his accomplished performance from the bench last week.

If Palace thought the Canaries would prove less of a test than recent matches, they were in for a rude awakening as the home team started the game at a rate of knots. Early pressure resulted in a narrow escape for the Eagles, with Johan Elmander seeing his volley crash against the crossbar before ten minutes had been played, the attempt testing out the goal-line technology; which judged the ball hadn’t crossed the line, Speroni saving well to prevent Leroy Fer from heading in the follow up.

Speroni saved well again a few minutes later when winger Nathan Redmond, one of the star performers of last year’s Championship (particularly against Palace in Birmingham City’s shock 4-0 victory at Selhurst Park on Good Friday) found the target. It was Redmond who initiated the only goal of the game; outpacing Dean Moxey, he found Elmander, whose mis-timed shot found Wes Hoolahan, who passed to Gary Hooper, the former Celtic player finding the back of the net from six yards.

If Palace hadn’t really made an impression yet, that was to change shortly after the opening goal as last week’s hero, Barry Bannan, saw a fiery effort hit the bar – but only after a brave header from Norwich defender Martin Olsson. However, with the first half at an end, few would have denied the fact Norwich deserved their lead.

Despite defeat, the Palace defence are becoming more consistent and solid

The Eagles came out much brighter in the second half. Dean Moxey’s cross nearly ended up being turned into the Norwich net by Canaries defender Sebastien Bassong. Norwich were offering little threat as Palace enjoyed a good proportion of possession and chances. Substitute Jimmy Kebe had a shot from the edge of the box narrowly miss the target, and Jerome could perhaps have done much better with a late chance which ended up in Norwich ‘keeper John Ruddy’s safe hands.

Defeat then, for Palace, and with Sunderland’s draw against Aston Villa, a return to the foot of the Premier League. The Eagles are only two wins from safety however, and with slow starters West Ham United and Cardiff City up next, both at home, six points is certainly not out of the question. Pulis was optimistic after the game, suggesting misfortune cost the Eagles at least a point at Carrow Road.

Despite defeat, the Palace defence are becoming more consistent and solid, with only one goal conceded in the last 277 minutes of football, which is perhaps a testament to the experience and consistency of a settled back four. Pulis may shift his attention to Palace’s lack of firepower up front, therefore, with only seven goals scored all season. Reinforcements are needed, but the lack of confidence in front of goal displayed by the likes of Marouane Chamakh and Jerome needs addressing first. If Pulis can get his team to start scoring goals, then the points will surely follow.

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, Bassong, R Bennett, Olsson; Hoolahan (Johnson 79′), Fer, Howson, Redmond; Hooper (Whittaker, 90′), Elmander (Becchio, 81′).

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Puncheon (Kebe, 76′), Bannan (Williams 73′); Chamakh (Gayle 80′), Jerome.

Goals: Norwich City 1 (Hooper 30′) Crystal Palace 0.

Attendance: 26,851

Referee: C. Foy

The Palace Away Fan

The Palace Away Fan

Following Palace over land and sea, The Away Fan is 100% committed to the cause. Often seen catching a train on a rainy Saturday, the Away Fan rarely returns home without a thousand stories to tell. Visiting exotic locations such as Stoke, Hull and Sunderland, this intrepid traveller is the authority on Crystal Palace performances away from SE25.

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