Away Block Report: Swansea City 1 – 1 Crystal Palace


By - Sunday 2nd March, 2014

Below-par Palace salvage a vital late point, as Glenn Murray scores his maiden Premier League goal


Glenn Murray will be celebrating his return to goalscoring tonight. Photo by Tom Brogan, used under Creative Commons (http://goo.gl/hnFWlx).

If Crystal Palace are to survive in the Premier League for the first time this season, then they will need to both pick up away points and take those points off their fellow relegation rivals; a gruelling series of home games, including Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, means the Eagles will have to be at their very best on the road.

Tony Pulis and his players will be relieved, therefore, that Chico Flores’ mistimed challenge on Glenn Murray with just under ten minutes remaining allowed Palace’s prolific striker to score his first goal since his comeback from a terrible injury; even more so with the news filtering through that relegation rivals Norwich City and Cardiff City had both lost, with Fulham losing yesterday and Sunderland yet to play having put in a brave, but ultimately futile performance in their Capital One Cup final defeat to Manchester City. All Palace fans will be hoping this merry group of strugglers’ brave attempts at survival will hold similar hopelesness.

Yet for the majority of the game, and certainly in the first half, the Eagles were totally outplayed, and, unlike in the home encounter against the Swans last September, it was due more to the away side’s inadequacy than the home side’s dominance.

It didn’t help that the flow of the game was interrupted by first half injuries to both sides; Pablo Hernandez being replaced by Jose Canas for the Swans, with Marouane Chamakh leaving on the half hour mark to be replaced by, perhaps confusingly, Cameron Jerome. This didn’t stop Swansea taking a deserved lead however: A smooth passing move, which recalled the best form of Swansea City over the past three years, saw Ashley Williams, Leon Britton and Wilfried Bony all take touches before Jonathan De Guzman slotted home with twenty-five minutes on the clock.

With Palace’s performance totally flat and half time still some distance away, it was unsurprising when Swansea carved out an excellent chance to double their advantage. And, crucially for the Eagles, Julian Speroni, this week the subject of rumour speculating on an imminent end to his ten-year Palace career, demonstrated a perfect cause for a contract extension; Bony met Angel Rangel’s cross, firing goalwards, only for Speroni to pull off a world class save, the type of which Palace fans are used to.

1-0 to the home side it remained until the break, with the Eagles retaining a paltry 16% of possession in the first half. Pulis would have his work cut out to revitalise his beleaguered side.

With only eleven games left, Palace need to be at their very best

Revitalise them he did. With an off-colour Tom Ince substituted for Murray at half time, Palace approached the second half with more vigour, albeit a with performance which was still some way off the Eagles’ best. It took until the final ten minutes, and a slice of fortune, for Palace to gain parity.

Murray, a key cog in Palace’s second half resurgence, was brought down by Flores a few yards short of the penalty box, with Swans ‘keeper Michel Vorm having strayed outside the box and the striker through on goal. Nevertheless, Mike Dean, having a poor game (who wasn’t?) pointed to the spot and sent off Flores (deservedly) for good measure. One may have expected Murray to be a bag of nerves as he lined up to take the penalty, with the pressure of salvaging a much needed point in the fight against relegation, on top of a long spell without a goal.

His penalty couldn’t have been struck more confidently however, fired into the top right hand corner. Had Vorm guessed correctly he still would not have come close to the effort. Momentum and numbers were on Palace’s side, and the Eagles had a chance to claim victory with mere seconds remaining, as Yannick Bolasie, in perhaps his best performance of the season, found Jerome Thomas with the goal in sight. Rather inexplicably, Thomas opted to dive, and was deservedly booked. A curling effort from Bolasie moments later also failed to seal the three points.

Amidst the excitement of a dramatic late equaliser, it musn’t be forgotten that Palace were very poor for a good percentage of the game and a better side would have punished the Eagles. With only eleven games left, Palace need to be at their very best; survival is more than achievable thanks to the upturn in results under Pulis, but the Eagles are some distance away from being able to rely on other results to seal safety.

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Davies, Britton, Chico, Williams (Amat 70′), Dyer, De Guzman, Bony (Lita 63′), Hernandez (Canas 22′), Routledge. 

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Parr (Thomas 70′); Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Ledley; Ince (Murray 45′), Chamakh (Jerome 32′), Bolasie.

Goals: Swansea City 1 (De Guzman, 25′) Crystal Palace 1 (Murray pen. 82′).

Sent off: Chico 81′ (Swansea City).

Referee: M. Dean.

Attendance: 20,240.

 

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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