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April 16 2021 3.05am

Palace 2-0 Swansea

September 14 2008

Ben Watson

Ben Watson

Crystal Palace’s season is now finally underway courtesy of solid 2-0 win against Swansea City, writes Simon Pophale.

This match could be called “the return of the prodigal son” as Ben Watson stepped into the vacant spot following the transfer of TOM SOARES to Stoke. Jose Fonte replaced the injured Paddy McCarthy and Paul Ifill, transfer listed but with no takers, found himself in the line up also.

This was the first match in 24 years against the Swans and they made a more than competent start to life a division above. From the opening minute, when Jason Scotland found space on the right hand side of the penalty area, but shot at Speroni, we all knew it was going to be a competitive afternoon.

Nick Carle had an effort saved minutes later, but the rest of the opening 20 minutes would belong to Swansea, who play some neat passing football under the Spaniard Roberto Martinez, but did not force Speroni into a meaningful save.

Yet Palace were forced to make 2 substitutions in 6 minutes as first John Oster hobbled off to be replaced by Kieran Djalali, whose first contribution was to cross dangerously and had Paul Ifill kept his header down, we would have been a goal up.

Ifill then had a smart turn and shot easily saved by De Vries, as the midway point of the first half was reached.

Sadly Palace were forced into another change shortly afterwards as Jamie Scowcroft was stretchered off on 26 minutes to be replaced by Calvin Andrew. It was from this free-kick, that Watson seized the moment. He curled the ball in dangerously from the left and the ball ended up in the botTOM right hand corner of the net. 200+ minutes and finally our home duck was broken.

We were maybe fortunate to go into the break a goal up, as Jason Scotland found space on the edge of the area following solid build up play from Leon Britton and Thomas Butler, but he could only fire straight at Speroni.

Butler had a shot easily caught by Speroni on 50 minutes, before Ben Watson curled in another trademark free-kick a minute later, with Andrew at the far post agonisingly close to getting a vital touch.

Swansea started to make Speroni work for his afternoon’s corn and Mark Gower had a shot pushed around the post.

Five minutes later Speroni pulled off yet another wonderful save as substitute Gorka Pintado fired low but somehow the Argentine pulled off a save to his left.

That, along with the back line acting like an almost impenetrable wall knocking the stuffing out of the Welshmen and the longer the half went on, it was all Palace.

With Ifill probably having his best game for a year and Watson pulling the strings in midfield, we started to turn the screw and on 67 minutes, Nick Carle shot from just outside the area following great work from Ifill and Djalali and De Vries watched the ball bounce out of his reach into the lefthand corner for the killer second.

After this, it was the Ben Watson show as he fired in a 25 yard piledriver on 70 minutes which flew inches over.

6 minutes later he set up Djalali, but the youngster saw his shot saved. As Watson came to take the corner, the Holmesdale faithful chanted his name.

Once jeered but revered once again, this was Watson’s day.

Palace: Speroni, Butterfield, Lawrence, Fonte, Hill, Oster (Djilali 21), Watson, Derry, Ifill (Scannell 88), Carle, Scowcroft (Andrew 26).

Not Used: Moses, Ertl.

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