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Villans vanquished

August 23 2015

A water break - an unusual sight at Selhurst Park

A water break - an unusual sight at Selhurst Park

It was scorcher of a day when Aston Villa visited Selhurst Park. Jamesey mopped his brow but Crystal Palace's 2-1 victory was hot stuff.

The sun came out with a vengeance for Crystal Palace's second home fixture against a new-look Aston Villa (Aug 22).

The Villans team contained some impressive talents, both established and new, including Jack Grealish, Rudy Sanchez and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

The official gate was 20,000 although I couldn't see many empty seats from my perch. One might have expected a bigger number than that, going by the near full houses the Eagles seem to attract in the latest spell in the Heapsomoulah League.

As I made my way from Fort Neef station along the High Street I overheard a group of Villa supporters gazing at an estate agent's window and discussing what they considered to be the outlandishly high cost of local houses. I couldn't help but comment as I passed; "And this is a cheap area of London, fellers." Incredulous looks all round. Well, they were Brummies.

Many will remember the old Lap Hing chippie in Whitehorse Lane. This supporter enjoyed many an alfresco luncheon of excellent fish and chips until Mr Hing, a few years ago, was obviously made an offer he couldn't refuse and, to my great sadness, it became an indifferent doner kebab joint.

The establishment morphed into equally indifferent fast food outlets a couple of times but is now a conventional fish and chip shop again. I can't comment on whether the standard reaches that of the Lap Hing because the weather was far too hot for me to even think about hot fried food. British food traditionalists might be interested?

As for the game itself, Glenn Murray was in the starting line-up, as was our new lad, Bakary Sako. Palace favourite Yannick Bolasie was on compassionate leave due to a family bereavement

It was a scrappy first half with no score from either side and at times Villa looked the more likely to find the net. Wilfried Zaha was dangerous but Murray proved largely ineffective.

Alan Pardew brought on Dwight Gayle and Jordon Mutch after the break and the Eagles started to look more penetrating.

What promised to be a big controversy was when a Gayle shot was deflected off James McArthur into the Villa goal and the crowd went beserk - one up to the Palace. The official was surrounded by protesting yellow shirts, consulted with his linesman and after what seemed like ages, disallowed the goal for offside.

It looked like a perfectly fair goal from my vantage point and I was livid with rage in common with many other Eagles supporters. Had the referee allowed his own judgment (he awarded a goal initially) to be swayed by animated dissent from players?

Well, to be fair the footage on MOTD later in the day showed that McArthur was undoubtedly offside and even the Palace manager came clean.

However, Palace anger was soon forgotten in the 71st minute when a cracking header from Scott Dann hit the back of the Villans' net. This time it really was 1-0.

Shortly after that for the second time in six days a Palace defender obligingly found his own net. Last Sunday (Aug 16) Damien Delaney provided Arsenal with an winner and on this occasion Pape Souare pulled off the same trick.

It looked like being a 1-1 draw until a delighted Eagles crowd witnessed a very late winner from Bakary Sako. Three games played and two of them victories. So far, so very good.

Pleasingly, the board has shown a great respect for our history and this has led to the reappearance in various roles of the likes of Ian Wright, Mark Bright, John Salako and, of course, our current manager.

That wonderful Italian international footballer Attilio Lombardo was an honoured guest at the Villa game. Many of us will, I am sure, remember the 1997-98 season when promotion to the Showmethemoney League brought Attilio to Selhurst.

It was always a pleasure to watch the grace and intelligence of the Bald Eagle despite relegation at the end of that turbulent time. Before his departure from CPFC Attilio became joint manager with the Swede, Tomas Brolin, at a point when confusion and chaos reigned in SE25.

Attlio was a brilliant player but had no English while Tomas had perfect English but at that stage of his career was frankly a very poor player.

If only both could have been welded into one persona they might have been a superb manager between them. But, of course, they couldn't and that was the end of it.

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