I suppose it had to happen at some point. But are we downhearted? Well, yes, a little bit. There were a number of shock results in the Carling Cup tonight and we were good enough to have added to them. But here we are, regretting what might have been. The best team lost.
We arrived in good spirits, despite the persistent drizzle. Croydon isn’t pretty in glorious sunshine so it certainly didn’t look its best overcast, but the feeling on the Alliance coaches was much brighter than the weather. It was good to have Silpa Winfield travelling with us too- now, where’s the rest of the board?! Show some solidarity!
Selhurst Park is a hotchpotch of a ground, new bits and old bits. Sorry if I make it sound like your grandad after a knee replacement, but it is similarly venerable. Much of it was underpopulated tonight, and the noise came from those in Red (well, to be fair, Palace fans woke up once they scored). In the first half we had plenty to be noisy about.
If we’d gone in at half time three goals to the good it wouldn’t have been undeserved. Sergio was here, there and everywhere- I shall let you sing the song- Tyrone terrified the Palace defence, and their keeper made some good saves. Only on one occasion did Palace really threaten, and Shearer was equal to it. But the goal didn’t come, we went in still level, but still confident of victory.
Shortly after the restart, a shot from Tyrone clipped the far post and came back out. Had it been a couple of inches to the right, we’d have gone on and won the game- we were running it. But then, disaster. Twice. Zaha was by far Palace’s best player, and almost won the game on his own. Perhaps we could have been a bit tighter with the marking for the second, but I can’t be too critical. A Palace supporting friend texted me to commiserate- his words, “we don’t deserve to be ahead.” I’m not arguing Rob, but as the old cliche goes, it’s goals that win matches. We didn’t score any.
We chased the game from then on. The work rate didn’t slow, but the chances didn’t come. We lost out on some marginal decisions and didn’t have a great deal of luck. The final whistle bought disappointment- a feeling we aren’t used to- but let’s be realistic. If we have to lose a game, best it’s a cup game to a team two divisions higher. The league is our main focus, and we’re top of it!
So, here’s hoping for a smooth journey home, and let’s look forward to Saturday. As if we play like we did in the first half, heaven help Cheltenham!