Written by Garbo
You would have been forgiven for thinking that the cricket season was well underway at Selhurst Park in sunny south London given that the goals were flowing like boundaries in a 20/20.
The weary ranks of Cherries fans trundled into the ground hoping for a continuation of form from the Spurs game and to put Crystal Palace to the sword and finish the season on a high.
As we know, being an AFCB fan, nothing ever seems to go to plan. Eddie in his infinite wisdom decided to keep Ake in midfield and stick with Simpson, Cook as our central defensive back line, this was to prove costly as poor Jack Simpson found that the Premier League can be a cold place at times.
We started brightly and the first few minutes gave us the impression that we would have a profitable afternoon.
However this was shortlived as we struggled to contain the Palace team and were given a warning when Milivojevic smacked the post with a venomous effort, the talented Wan-Bissaka was pushing forward and a deflected cross looped up and somehow Batshuayi managed to hook his foot around Steve Cook’s body to poke home his first goal after 25 minutes.
We were struggling to impose ourselves on the game and Palace buoyed by the opening goal, created another just after the half-hour when Batshuayi slotted home when unmarked in the centre of the six-yard box to increase the pain on the travelling band of noisy away support.
0-2 and we pushed forward in vain hope of getting Fraser on the ball to try and open up the home defence, losing possession on the edge of their penalty area and Zaha sprinted away firing a shot at Travers who could only watch as his weak parry hit the unfortunate Simpson and it was the culmination of some horrible defending that we trailed by three.
We continued to huff and puff towards half time, when out of the blue came a thunderbolt from our Colombian linch pin, Lerma’s shot rattled the frame of post and bar and ended up spinning into the net.
Eddie resisted any urge to change things immediately for the second half and his team talk appeared to have pepped up the side as several forays down our left had Fraser buzzing and we looked like we were about to join in the game.
Often though our final crosses and attempts on goal were poor and easy for the place defenders to clear. Clyne started to move forward and we had Lerma bossing the midfield for a period, the hard-working but ineffective Ibe found himself with some space on the edge of the box, advanced and hit a shot that was deflected in and it was 3-2.
Most of us saw the improvement in our movement and passing and there was real hope that we could pull this out of the fire. Cue another kick in the teeth when slack defending and marking, added to the trickery of Zaha who found Van Anholt (who always seems to score against us!) ghosting into the box to place the ball through the legs of Travers for 4-2. Eddie replaced the luckless Simpson with Mepham and Mousset came on for Ibe.
The game continued to ebb and flow, Travers, produced a good save from Townsend and I think we all knew that goals would still come, fortunately after some scrambling the Palace box the ball fell to an unmarked Josh King at the far post and he knocked it in 4-3…and anything could happen from here on in..what did happen was a tussle between Lerma and Zaha led to some petulance and handbags between them (I think Jeff is learning this Premier League thing quickly) Zaha was booked for his temper, and rather significantly avoided a red card when he continued to hold up play when we wanted to take a quick free kick.
Roger East who was having, thankfully, his last ever game obviously didn’t want to punish the childish Zaha further.
We conceded possession from the free kick and the ball fell to a rattler Zaha who raced clear avoiding the playground attempts to tackle him by Clyne and Lerma he cut the ball cleverly back to Townsend who sealed the points for Palace.
Surridge came on for the dying embers of the game and really should have score when presented with a simple chance which he tamely fired at Guaita and that was the season over for all.
Travers 6 This would have served him well, unfortunately, his defence didn’t help him, but probably should have done better for their third and fourth goals, to be honest.
Clyne 5 Not really shown much for us and this game was no different to his recent efforts.
Cook 5 Looked tired and should have closed Batshuayi bettr for the opener.
Simpson 5 Looked out of his depth at times, but then again unlucky with the Own Goal
Smith 5 Lacked his usual sparkle and drive.
Ibe 6 Worked hard, but doesn’t have a true cutting edge, takes too long on the ball often, took his goal well though
Lerma 8 Energetic and gave Palace plenty to think about in midfield, great goal fully deserved.
Ake 5 Like a duck out of water in midfield, we missed his defending for sure!
Fraser 6 Impressed on the ball, but his delivery and finishing was rather woeful.
King 5 Pretty anonymous throughout the game, needs a rest, in my opinion.
Wilson 6 Struggled to make his mark in the game, worked tirelessly without any end product.
Mousset 6 Looked lively when he came on and produced some good attacking moments.
Mepham 5 Couldn’t really improve our defending when he came on with game already slipping away.
Good entertainment for the fans, but some shocking defending from both teams. Wilfried Zaha is some player, despite his tantrums, and was the main difference between the two sides I feel.
Another season to look forward to in The PL, but we may have to modify our style to improve our poor record of conceding goals. I hope the players have a good rest and we see some better luck with injuries next time around.