Block G Report: Crystal Palace 0 – 1 Southampton

By - Sunday 9th March, 2014

A poor performance from Palace gives relegation rivals hope

If Crystal Palace do slide back into the Championship at the impending finale of this Premier League season, individual errors will be seen by many as a direct causation of the Eagles’ demise. Silly penalties, own goals, and missed opportunities all add up at the end of the season. Perhaps the biggest individual error was allowing former manager Ian Holloway access to the transfer budget last summer, with only one of his summer signings in the starting lineup for Palace.

It will be Jason Puncheon ruing his individual error following this encounter, although his manager Tony Pulis will be hoping it spurs the winger on to a burst of good form, much as it did when the ex-Southampton player skied a penalty away at Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the season.

Not that any Palace fan can say their team deserved much out of this game, a poor, negative display which echoed the first half of last week’s eventual draw against Swansea City. The Eagles had the fortune of a late penalty to salvage them last time; this week they were not so lucky and it is not unfair to say if Palace continue to employ these tactics for the remainder of the season, they will be relegated.

With Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi and Joe Ledley the three midfielders picked, all are defensively minded and unlikely to create chances. Without any enterprise or creativity in midfield, with the bewildering omission of Barry Bannan persisting through the second half of the season – despite the diminutive Scotsman being one of the players of the first half of the season – it is hard to see where exactly the goals will come from for the Eagles. Long, hopeful punts up to a lonely Glenn Murray will not save Palace.

Without a goal threat then, considerable pressure is put on individual players not to make mistakes. After a period of Eagles pressure late in the first half, which got the crowd on their feet after a drab opening half hour, a wasted corner – a running theme throughout the match – was punted out towards Jay Rodriguez, with only Puncheon and the recalled Dean Moxey covering. Puncheon dawdled, sent a weak header aimlessly in the air and Rodriguez was away with only Julian Speroni to beat. Speroni hesitated momentarily, but the damage was done. Despite both players crunching into the ball at the same time, Rodriguez, perhaps fortuitously, won the ball and slid the ball into the net whilst sitting on the ground. And that was that.

Every time a Palace player found possession, a mistimed hack from a Southampton player greeted them

The confidence visibly drained out of Palace, with the Saints hitting the post through Rickie Lambert before the half time whistle was blown. A shot fired towards Artur Boruc soon after by the impressive Yannick Bolasie, who over the past few games has started to demonstrate real Premier League quality, was the Eagles only realistic chance in the entire match.

The second half was little better, although the Saints were equally as poor as Palace. Continual punted balls in the vague direction of the Palace attack proved to be expectedly fruitless, and matters weren’t helped by a woeful refereeing display by Howard Webb, considered by many to be the world’s best. Every time a Palace player found possession, a mistimed hack from a Southampton player greeted them and despite five bookings for the away side, the frustration amongst Palace fans and management was obvious.

Most prominently, Dejan Lovren found himself only booked after slicing Bolasie down after a wonderful run by the Congolese winger beat three men and put him through on goal. The letter of the law states that Lovren should have seen red; Webb inexplicably only showed yellow, and Jedinak wasted the resulting free kick.

A hugely frustrating ninety minutes for Palace. With Cardiff City beating Fulham at home, Palace now sit only two points above relegation, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool still to visit Selhurst Park and two trips to the northeast – against Sunderland and Newcastle United – in the next two weeks to prepare for. The former in particular may prove crucial to Palace’s survival; negativity in tactics and belief will categorically not return any points. Crystal Palace are good enough to stay up – form since Pulis took over has demonstrated good signs – but now they need to prove that as the season draws to a close.

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi (Jerome 66′), Ledley; Puncheon (Ince 66′), Bolasie (Thomas 83′), Murray.

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Lovren, Fonte, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Davis (Ward-Prowse, 89′), Cork (Wanyama, 34′); Lambert (Gallagher, 75′), Lallana, Rodriguez.

Goals: Crystal Palace 0 Southampton 1 (Rodriguez 37′).

Referee: H. Webb.

Attendance: 25,073.

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.

More Posts - Twitter