Next Match: Scunthorpe United (A) Tuesday 28th September 2010

Monday, 16 August 2010

Match 2: Crystal Palace (H)

Our season finally started on Saturday with that much-needed win. I knew they wouldn't let me down...

Like many people, I've been finding it hard to get excited since that start. After a summer of hype and expectation, it was such a kick in the teeth to be rock bottom again, and out of the Carling Cup after just one week of the season. But today it feels a little brighter again. There's still work to be done, we're far from firing on all cylinders. But it's all you can ask for; a clean sheet, a home win and our first goal of the season, even if it came from the boot of a Palace player.

We decided to head off early to this one, to get a new home shirt before the game. I don't know how long we expected this would take, but it meant that by half eleven me and my dad were kitted out in the new shirt, ready for the pub. Not before a nice, big bacon, egg and tomato sarnie though. Ooft, it went down a treat. I can see that becoming a tradition. Especially since we won, I'm a sucker for a superstition.

By the time the Spurs game had started, a fair few beers had been sunk. I'd spoken to the missus, who'd set off for Colchester about 3 hours after we began our journey, and yet somehow managed to make it on time. She's also managed to track Odejayi down before the game for a photo, something which she's threatening to have framed and the lot.

It was almost time to set off to the ground, so we downed drinks and joined the masses. We didn't see many Palace fans around, which is strange since they brought quite a few more than they usually do. It's a shame we didn't manage to have a chat with a few away fans. Palace are a funny side to predict, and nobody is quite sure what they're capable of. They've got a good manager in George Burley, and their season started well with a good win over Leicester. I don't think anyone was expecting a comfortable home win.

Walking with the crowd, towards Oakwell, I've missed that feeling. These friendlies and that cup game just can't compete with the real thing, a home league fixture. The closer we got to the ground, the more eager I was for this game to start.

We got into our seats, just in time for the teams being announced. It's fair to say it wasn't a team many folk were expecting, with Foster playing through concussion and Arismendi making his debut in place of Nathan Doyle. And no mention of Iain Hume either, not even on the bench. I've not heard about an injury for him, and after hearing rumours of MR being told to offload him, maybe his time at Oakwell is coming to an end?

The game kicked off, and it was pretty even. Right from the off it was clear this wasn't gonna be a game of chances. Palace looked solid, well organised and tight, and so did we. We had a couple of early chances, but the game took a while to start.

But we got our noses in front just after half an hour, after a good team move. Colace and Arismendi both linked well before the ball found its way to Jay McEveley, whose low cross was fantastic and forced the Palace defender into action. Unluckily for him, his attempted clearance flew past Speroni, and it was 1-0.

After the first goal, we took control and before half time could and should have had a penalty, after Hammill was felled in the area. But we didn't get it, and it remained 1-0 at half time.

Up to this point, the referee had been incredibly fussy and not allowed the game to flow. He got worse as the game went on.

In the second half, Palace brought Danns on and he certainly had an impact on the game. He looked very lively, and gave the visitors a bit more threat. But they still didn't look like scoring. And, aside from a few long range chances, neither did we. The game fizzled out, with another shout for a home penalty waved away by the official, although the second one would have been harsh. As full time approached, the result was looking more and more safe.

Darren Ambrose had wasted a couple of free kicks throughout the game, and in the third minute of stoppage time he launched one straight into the face of Goran Lovre. The force knocked him clean out, and he was receiving treatment for a good five minutes. Whilst he was down, apparently a few chants in bad taste were heard from the away end, and when Lovre had left the field and Doyle was given the chance to play the ball back to Palace, he instead opted to launch the ball deep into their territory and out for a throw in, much to the disgust of the Palace players. It was a nasty end to the game, and apparently Doyle continued the hostilities after the final whistle with the away crowd.

Anyway, we held out for a vital win. To be fair, we never looked in much danger. The important thing is the 3 points.

The man of the match went to Keiron Trippier, but I think a few others could have staked their claim. McEveley really had his moments, and Arismendi was impressive. And Lovre looked good too, probably the best since he signed for the club. And it's great to hear that Goran is out of hospital and getting better.

We nipped into town for a celebratory beer after the game, and the icing on the cake was the news of Blackwell being sacked at Sheffield United. Such a shame, he's been doing a great job turning them into a laughing stock. Also, Blackpool winning 4-0 was a great scoreline, I really hope the Seasiders can stay up this season.

The missus tried to mess with my head by texting me telling me MR had been linked with the Bramall Lane job. I know now there's no truth in the rumour, but at the time it was a worrying few moments.

Anyway, we move on. Bristol City away is a difficult fixture, and sadly I won't be there to see it, due to family commitments. So for me next, it's Boro at home, hopefully after a fine away win. Given what's gone on at Ashton Gate this last week, we could surprise a few people there and take our first away win of the season. Like I said before, the season starts here.

Thanks for reading.

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