I have no doubt he will be perfectly happy to see his post-match thoughts reproduced here. They add up to a good, honest and measured match report*:
Crystal Palace 1-3 Sunderland
- 3 November 2014 – Selhurst Park
- Attendance – 23,212
- Referee – Phil Dowd
- Goals – Fletcher (31, 90), Brown own goal (55), Gomez (79)
- Bookings – Jedinak, Pantillimon, Cattermole, Buckley
- Sending off – Jedinak
- Top rated Palace player – Wilfried Zaha
After the disappointment of conceding a two goal lead to West Bromwich Albion, a home fixture against what seemed like a free falling Sunderland side what just what the doctor ordered.
Warnock welcomed back Scott Dann to the starting line up but there was no place for Damien Delaney who saw red against Chelsea. Fit again midfielder James McArthur returned but only managed a place on the bench. Speroni kept his place in goal after his bout of concussion.
The hot topic of late is the form of referees and that was not about to go away. A first minute challenge on Frazier Campbell looked like a certain penalty but much to the bemusement of the majority of the Selhurst Park crowd, play on was waved by the man in the middle, Mr Dowd.
Normal service had been resumed and a break in play saw a lengthy chat between Mr Dowd and Mr Warnock on the touchline no doubt discussing the finer points of the game.
Palace started with energy and pace but like an excited child at a fun fair, there was very little control. It was all very rushed which allowed the visitors to have some possession as the home side took a breather.
Not often seen is a full back matching and beating Zaha for pace but van Aanholt was a match. However, his dubious challenge on Zaha right on the edge of the penalty area was given as nothing more than a goal kick and ended up as the defenders last act of the game before being stretchered off.
Sunderland went in at half time with the lead, perhaps against the run of play but a well worked goal even if Fletcher was left unchallenged to head home past a stranded Speroni.
The second half began with a flurry and Palace pushed for an equaliser. The pressure was firmly on the visitors but they survived a succession of corner kicks until they succumbed to an own goal from substitute Wes Brown. There only looked to be one winner after that with a plethora of further pressure but Palace just could not get the goal to give them the lead.
Then the sucker punch. The first of two actually. On the break an unmarked Jordi Gomez finished from outside of the box without any pressure as Palace failed to close him down. The second sucker punch (or kick) was a second yellow card for captain Jedi for foolishly kicking out while grounded.
That was pretty much it for the home side with the third goal coming as a result of a lacklustre Jason Puncheon losing the ball in midfield for Fletcher to grab his second.
A night game at Selhurst is usually an electric affair and while this was not a bad game to watch, at least for the neutral, it was marred by the controversies surrounding refereeing decisions. It has been a common theme of late particularly on this site which a couple of fellow writers have eluded to.
You make your own luck in this game. It seems that Palace remain too naïve in this league. Take a look at Sunderland, just like most other sides. They had both Cattermole and Larsson on at the referee from the first whistle. We do not have anyone like that in our side and while it is not something I like to see, I admit that it is perhaps something that we need to try and gain an advantage or at least a decision in our favour. In effect, play the same game in a kind of can’t beat them join them kind of way.
It is not just pressure on the referee, it is about being clever in and around the field of play and there were several examples of it in this game and others this season. In hindsight, it was the perfect game for the much lauded McJedley trio to reign supreme but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
We move on to an Old Trafford trip at the weekend without our captain who has earned himself a break going into yet another international week. After this result there is fear of a heavy defeat but as we have seen already in this division, anyone can beat anyone and Manchester United are no longer the team they once were.
Funnier things have happened.
Player Ratings from Who Scored
Julian Speroni (5.8) – Did little wrong once again but was exposed by the defence a little too much. Managed four saves throughout the game which kept us in the game at crucial stages.
Martin Kelly (6.5) – A decent running battle with Wickham which the Sunderland player had the better of in the first half but Kelly had a good second half supporting the winger in front as much as possible.
Brede Hangeland (5.9) – A frustrating night for the centre pairing who have not had many minutes alongside each other. Replaced by Dwight Gayle (6.0) with six minutes left to play and little time to have too much of an impact.
Scott Dann (5.7) – Return from injury which was welcome with his sense of calm but it was a little lost in this one. Stood firm as much as possible but looked a little rusty in places.
Joel Ward (6.5) – The question is when he will return to his natural right back slot as playing at left back is clearly effecting his game. Still admirably performs but remains restricted.
Wilfried Zaha (7.0) – Probably his best performance for Palace this season, particularly in the second half as the visiting left back had him for pace in the first period. Frustratingly often beat the man but looked to beat him again.
Marouane Chamakh (5.9) – Slow start in his accustomed number ten role but his usual chasing and harassing behind the front man was evident in the second half. Replaced by Jason Puncheon (5.2) with a little under fifteen minutes to go who did little apart from concede possession for the third goal.
Mile Jedinak (6.4) – Always seemed stretched in the middle but battled well for the most part. Two silly bookings means that we miss our captain for the trip to Old Trafford this weekend. Perhaps a well earned rest.
Joe Ledley (6.2) – Battled alongside Jedinak in the middle but of the park but it could have been a game to bring back McArthur if he was fully fit to strengthen.
Yannick Bolasie (6.9) – A truly frustrating player. Always in the thick of the action but more often than not disappointed with the final ball. Need more consistency at this level as he rarely seems to know what he is going to do with the ball, let alone his teammates.
Frazier Campbell (6.3) – What you see is what you get from him and should have had a penalty for his efforts early on. Typical display chasing and harassing the back line but not much came off for him unfortunately.
Match Statistics from Who Scored
- Team rating – Palace 5.79 – 7.65 Sunderland
- Shots – Palace 9-8 Sunderland
- Shots on target – Palace 1-7 Sunderland
- Possession – Palace 53% – 47% Sunderland
- Pass success – Palace 73% – 69% Sunderland
- Aerials won – Palace 28-26 Sunderland
- Dribbles – Palace 14-2 Sunderland
- Tackles – Palace 15-39 Sunderland
- Corners – Palace 11-2 Sunderland
- Throw ins – Palace 33-23 Sunderland
- Offsides – Palace 0-0 Sunderland
- Fouls – Palace 12-19 Sunderland
- Top rated – Fletcher (9.1)
- Top shots – Zaha (3)
- Top tackles – Vergini/Wickham (6)
- Top dribbles – Zaha/Bolasie (5)
* See the report in its original habitat, The Eagles Beak, at http://theeaglesbeak.com/2014/11/post-match-sunderland/
Still time if you think we’re worth it …
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