Winning streak becomes unbeaten run at Selhurst..

McGoldrick's strike keeps Reds unbeaten run intact..

Crystal Palace – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

A fairly laboursome game was always likely with managers like Davies and Warnock in charge of the two clubs – they’re both fairly well-versed in employing spoiling tactics to inhibit the other side, and this was pretty much the order of the day at Selhurst Park yesterday.  Residual controversy aside over whether or not Clint Hill meant to elbow Ando aside, Forest can probably consider themselves reasonably fortunate to have come away with a point.

Not that it was a bad performance – just disjointed with limited end product.  Camp was definitely the busier of the two goalkeepers, although personally I couldn’t quite see why the freekick Darren Ambrose expertly put into the net was given.  It came after a sequence of freekicks for the home side each time a member of their side hit the deck, and they did so rather easily!

Without the influential Blackstock and Moussi to call upon, Billy was forced to shuffle the pack a little with his personnel, and went with what I thought was a fairly predictable line-up (which probably makes it a sensible one!):

Gunter   Morgan   Wilson    Cohen
Anderson   McKenna   McGugan   Tyson
Adebola   McGoldrick

The Reds started positively, with Tyson proving the outlet through which our attacks were forming – whilst he gave Butterfield a hard time at fullback his final ball was rarely too much of a danger for the Palace defence to deal with.  There was a warning of what was to come from the home side too, Ambrose forcing Camp to tip a well-struck freekick over for a corner.

Shortly after Kelv had a nightmare moment as he slipped in the area – the ball ricocheted off him fortunately into the arms of Lee Camp.  At the other end McKenna fed the ball through to Tyson who unfortunately had a let-down first touch which brought the chance to nothing.  Meanwhile Wilson recovered well from his earlier wobble by denying Alan Lee a shooting opportunity.

The Reds were attempting to play the ball nicely but it wasn’t quite clicking for them and Palace worked hard closing and harrying.  They brought on Victor Moses before half time, and the youngster immediately looked like he was set to make an impact – he appeared to have gotten away from Gunter but fortunately Camp was on his toes to close down the angle quickly at the expense of a corner.

A freekick was awarded in the danger-zone for Palace after forty minutes.  Wes had breathed near a Palace player who fell over (I think it was Lee, but memory is hazy!) and the referee predictably awarded a home freekick.  That takes nothing away from the taking of the freekick, a curling effort into the top corner which left Lee Camp with bugger all chance of getting too.

The goal awoke the home fans for a while – with the help of the announcer who proudly shouted: “Scorer for the Eagles, Darren Ambrose… DARREN…”, and received a lusty and slightly embarrassing “AMBROSE!” back from the crowd.  Oh dear!

Then the moment of controversy.  Anderson, who had looked lively in the first half, was set to beat Clint Hill again only to be halted rather starkly by the defender’s elbow – right infront of the technical area.  Worth saying now that the view from the away end doesn’t lend itself to judging – and predictably this particular passage of play wasn’t replayed on the big screen at the crowd.

Davies was incensed – oddly the tannoy-man then started piping the biased views of presumably a local radio nobody to the fans.  They’ve squabbled in the press about it – let’s face it – Warnock’s teams aren’t unknown to be fond of using their elbows.  Anderson was taken off as a precaution, Hill was booked for an altercation with Gunter afterwards rather than the incident itself (which even Warnock admitted warranted a booking).  So McCleary prepared to come on just as half-time arrived.

Gaz was out warming up properly during half-time – and as the second half kicked off the Reds  came out of the blocks quickly to get the equaliser we really needed.  McKenna found McGugan who drilled a form cross-cum-shot across the box which McGoldrick was well positioned to direct into the goal from around the six yard line.  Shortly after McGugan again was the architect finding Dele who missed the target whilst off-balance.

The Eagles were still threatening though, Derry did well but Moses – under pressure from the Reds defence – blasted over from close range.  At the other end McGoldrick crossed and nearly got a flukey shot on target – although Speroni didn’t look too troubled.  As the game became end-to-end, Camp did really well to deny Darren Ambrose (Darren!..) from doubling his tally with a smart save.

As the half wore on the home side were starting to pile on the pressure – Neil Danns seemed to dance past around four Reds defenders, finding Moses who took it around a few more before Wilson got in the way.  The ball kept coming back though.  Billy’s solution was unconventional, putting Chambers on for McGugan – and playing the centreback in midfield (I was expecting a shuffle resulting in Cohen taking the midfield spot).

It didn’t immediately solve the problem, with waves of Palace pressure continuing – and Wes had to look lively to deal with a cross from Ambrose.  Slowly but surely though we started to press forward a bit ourselves – Cohen delivered a great ball to Tyson who shot agonisingly just wide.  Predictably the ball came back at us with former-Red Stern John striking a Wes clearance just wide from 30 yards.

Billy introduced Joe ‘yellow card’ Garner in place of Tyson, shuffling McGoldrick into Tyson’s spot and Joe up front, but frankly there was little involvement for him as Forest struggled to keep possession or get the ball forward.  The final minutes were all Palace, and it was Stern John who came closest from an angle, but his shot was never likely to get past desperate blocks from Camp and Morgan – with Camp making the save.

All in all, pleased with a point.  Controversy aside (and I couldn’t see enough to know anything, although have a natural predisposition to disbelieve anything Warnock says!), I think given the classic “away performance” type ideology we were reasonably good value for a draw – although we certainly had to defend more dangerous situations than we created, so should acknowledge we were a bit fortunate too.

Cardiff away is up next – and they really are the team to beat at their own patch, so it will take some performance to get anything out of them at all.  It will really test the credentials we’re starting to develop with an impressive unbeaten run still intact – and indeed, an even lengthier unbeaten run in the league away from home.  So long as we can avoid a Derby-style Cardiff embarrassment, or indeed, a Derby-style BBC embarrassment, then that will be something!

3 Responses

  1. I agree with your final thoughts nffc – next week against Cardiff could well be a defining moment of our season.

    Away draws at Reading and QPR, the win over Newcastle and the two great showings in the Carling Cup plus the undeserved defeat to West Brom show we can certainly compete with the better teams in this division.

    A draw would be a good result. A win and even I might just start to believe we could do it…

  2. I was really hoping we were going to nick this as I’ve a season long bet with a colleague – happens to be a Cardiff fan… Bet is that on the first of each month, whoever finishe highest will owe the other £10 – have paid out twice now and really thought I’d be clawing some money back by now!!!

    C’mon you Reds!

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