Block G Report: Crystal Palace 0 – 0 Everton

By - Sunday 10th November, 2013

Palace avoid equalling unwanted record as they pick up a point at home to Toffees – but it could have been three

The last time but one Palace found themselves in the top division, in 1997/1998, a calamitous run of form resulted in the Eagles losing eight games in a row. Going into the match against a strong Everton side on a good run of results, and with Palace having lost their previous seven, the fear was that insipid record would be matched.

However, Palace blew away any apprehension with a strong, spirited display in which players and fans alike may feel slightly disappointed that  they didn’t register their second victory of the season, despite Everton having the majority of possession over the ninety minutes.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that this was Crystal Palace’s first 3pm kick-off at Selhurst Park on a Saturday this season (although due to a variety of travel issues around Croydon the game actually kicked off at 3.15pm), that the atmosphere crackled right from the kick off in the increasingly gloomy afternoon weather. Following a well respected moment’s silence for Remembrance weekend, the game roared into life.

It was the opposition who dominated the ball from the start, and had the early chances, as has often been the way this season – it usually takes the Eagles ten to fifteen minutes to settle into the game. Had Everton’s early opportunities found the back of the net, the game may once again have been a struggle for Palace; a well worked move saw former England man Leon Osman slice wide with all the goal to aim at, whilst Kevin Mirallas forced Julian Speroni into a good save down to his right.

Then Palace found their confidence. With a noisy Holmesdale Road stand at their backs, the Eagles created three glorious opportunities on the break. Firstly, Kagisho Dikgacoi found himself in a patch of pitch to himself as Jerome Thomas swiped in a cross from the left of the penalty box. The South African Dikgacoi mistimed his header to such an extent that it bounced off in the opposite direction to the goal.

Next, Thomas himself had an opportunity to put the home side ahead, but his curling shot from outside the box was well saved by bearded Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard. The next chance to arise was arguably the best of the game; lively midfielder Barry Bannan sent over a cross from a well worked corner which found Marouane Chamakh totally unmarked with just Howard to beat. The Moroccan, low on confidence after recent criticism from the press, sent his header wide when it would have been easier to score. It was goalless at the break, Palace leaving the field to a standing reception.

The shot dipped agonisingly wide and brushed into the side netting

After an interview with Ian Beale of Eastenders at half time, the second half kicked off with Palace fans hoping for little drama; the five minutes after half time has been a bad period for the home side over the course of the season so far. However, the Eagles got through it with ease, and created yet another golden opportunity soon after. Yannick Bolasie, having a lively game on the wing, used fantastic skill to evade his marker and send a pinpoint pass through the offside trap to put Thomas clean through on goal. Thomas, having his best game so far in a Palace shirt, had only Howard to beat with a third of the pitch to cover. The former Charlton man opted for the spectacular with a chip over the American ‘keeper, but the shot dipped agonisingly wide and brushed into the side netting.

Bolasie’s pass for Thomas ended up inches wide of the net. Image by Tom Brogan, used under Creative Commons.

As the game wound its way to a conclusion, it was Everton who grew stronger as the home side tired, with plenty of pressure put on the Palace defence, who held up well. The tension was palpable in the stands, particularly when a haphazard clearance by Cameron Jerome from a corner found England centre-back Phil Jagielka, who sent his header goalwards; thankfully for the Eagles, it glanced the crossbar rather then find the net. Little clear cut chances followed for either team, despite Leighton Baines hitting the wall from a free-kick in an area of the pitch he specialises in scoring from, and Palace secured their first draw of the season.

As Palace fans headed home, there was a feeling of optimism in the air; there is no doubt that the home team are still stuck in the relegation mire, with only a victory by Manchester City over Sunderland on Sunday (10th November) guaranteeing they finish the weekend off the bottom. However, combined with the announcement of a new Sporting Director before the game – highly rated Iain Moody, who controversially left Cardiff City earlier in the season – and Steve Parish suggesting on BBC’s Football Focus that a new manager will be in place early next week, there are grounds for that optimism.

Keith Millen, the man who stepped in to the manager’s role temporarily following the departure of Ian Holloway, deserved his standing ovation at the end; he has steadied the ship and, most importantly, steadied the defence – this was Palace’s first clean sheet of the season and all four members of the defence had noticeably strong games.

On to the international break, then – and a run of Hull City (a), Norwich City (a), West Ham United (h) and Cardiff City (h) to follow – all games which Palace should feel they can pick up points in.

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi (O’Keefe, 45′), Bannan; Thomas (Puncheon, 85′), Bolasie, Chamakh (Jerome, 63′).

Everton: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Barry, McCarthy, Osman (Barkley, 56′), Pienaar, Mirallas (Deulofeu, 56′); Lukaku.

Attendance: 25,231.

Referee: C. Pawson.

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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