Crystal Palace 2 - 3 Portsmouth
Palace started brightly with Darren Powell heading a Danny Granville free kick just wide of Shaka Hislop's post on 8 minutes. After 21 minutes, giant centre back Darren Powell was injured in a clash of heads, and had to be replaced by Dean Austin. Still Palace pressed forward with some neat passing movements, and were nearly rewarded with a Shaun Derry free kick which he curled round the defensive wall, but not with enough power to trouble Hislop. Just as the game seemed to be drifting towards a scoreless first half, Dougie Freedman produced one of the best individual goals seen at Selhurst for many a year. He raced from his own half, evading defender after defender and reached the edge of the penalty area, where he smartly side stepped the challenge of Hayden Foxe and toe poked a shot into the top left hand corner of the net. A truly magnificent goal, which was far too good for the mediocrity which had gone before. Before the cheers and applause had died down, Palace doubled their lead when Tony Popovic headed home from six yards following a Danny Granville cross.
The second period saw Pompey manager Harry Redknapp change his formation and utilise wing backs on both flanks. This caused Palace all sorts of problems, and Matt Clarke was called into his first serious action of the match, when he had to make a smart double save from Matt Taylor and then Paul Merson. On 68 minutes a Merson corner was headed home by the unmarked Foxe to give Pompey some hope. Within 30 seconds they were level, this time Jason Crowe, one of the aforementioned wing back substitutes, bundled home Taylor's near post cross, and 2 minutes later Palace's misery was complete when Crowe banged in the winner after good work from Deon Burton. Palace's only real response was a Danny Butterfield free kick which evaded everyone in the area and grazed the far post before bouncing away for a goal kick.
I have often been critical of Palace in the past, but this team really can play. Once again Shaun Derry was superb and looks a steal at £750k. Danny Butterfield is also a player, but this team will never go on to bigger and better things whilst it contains players like Steve Thomson, Aki Riihilahti and Danny Granville, who are just not up to it.
Andy Johnson missed the game with a recurrance of the neck injury he sustained at Preston last weekend, and the loss of Darren Powell was also a blow.
I have this question to Trevor......If Curtis Fleming was fit enough to be on the bench, why was he not in the team at left full back, allowing Mullins to play in midfield and outing either Riihilahti or Thomson?
Oh well, there is always next week!!!!!!!!!!