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Theatre of despair

March 7 2016

When Alan met Jurgen it was a lucky day for Liverpool

When Alan met Jurgen it was a lucky day for Liverpool

Increasingly desperate days are the norm now at Selhurst. Jamesey hoped the tide would turn against Liverpool. It didn't.

There's an insulting American expression implying maternal sexual congress. If you are a Crystal Palace supporter it certainly was a Mothers' Day at Selhurst for the visit of Liverpool (March 6).

Trips to Selhurst have become rather like a bad dream - taking your ageing and beloved sick dog to the vet, you live in hope but in the end there is a shake of the head and the hypodermic is brandished.

There were brave words in the match programme from Alan Pardew, taking issue with media references to our season "falling apart" and a "crisis gripping Crystal Palace".

However after yet another defeat, this time a 1-2 win for the Scousers, the media seem to have got it pretty well right.

Many words have been written, not least by this correspondent, about how vital it is just to stay up this season.

All that lovely moulah arriving in the coffers of the Loadsadosh League would be a godsend to finance essential renovations to bring Selhurst Park into the 21st century.

What looked like a racing certainty last Christmas from the vantage point of 5th place now looks like a risky bet as we sink relentlessly down towards the relegation strugglers.

It all looked so hopeful at the start of the 1.30pm kick-off game.

The Eagles looked sharp and purposeful. Even the costly Emmanuel Adebayor showed some clever touches, hitting the bar in the opening minutes, with Yannick Bolasie forcing a superb save from the Liverpool keeper.

It would be foolish to underrate the Scousers who looked slick and skilled in their build-ups but they rarely threatened the goal of Alex McCarthy.

Needless to say it needed a midfielder to do the business when Palace got their just reward early in the second half.

Joe Ledley drove home before the Holmesdale crowd after a confused melee in the visitors' penalty area.

Selhurst went wild with delight and things looked even better in the 62nd when James Milner was sent off after two yellow cards.

The Eagles looked like adding to their tally against 10 men.

But then, disaster struck. McCarthy slipped, mistimed his kick and gave the ball straight to Roberto Firmino who gratefully evened the scores.

It looked like being a 1-1 draw but one disaster is not enough for Selhurst these days.

In the last seconds of injury time, Damien Delaney made what looked like an innocuous challenge on Christian Benteke who naturally enough made a BAFTA-winning meal out of it.

The referee was unimpressed but the linesman (nowadays they seek the limelight too) recommended a penalty which was duly awarded and joyfully converted by the alleged victim.

A stunned crowd shuffled out of the ground while the jubilant travelling visitors howled with delight at such easy meat.

It is difficult to remember a referee awarding such a dubious penalty kick after 95 minutes in a crucial Showusthemoney game. But, of course, this was Selhurst and Palace, so it was alright.

With the EU referendum on the horizon I was strongly reminded of our European heritage. Two Spanish-speaking young men sat next to me in the Arthur Wait and were loud in the support for the Eagles.

I stopped for a snifter in the Railway Telegraph almost opposite Fort Neef rail station. I had supped in this boozer for many years and assumed it had closed when it became shuttered up.

But it has been pleasantly refurbished and serves good Young's real ales.

I don't often drink shorts but had a large vodka - my legs were as numb from the cold as my brain was from the game.

Two lads wearing Palace scarves sat near me and said they were from Slovakia and it was their first visit.

Selhurst seems to attract many of our current EU citizens these days.

To end a not-very-perfect day, MOTD showed the Palace game first - mind you there had only been two.

Mark Lawrenson thought that it was a definite penalty and that a penalty is a penalty even it is awarded seconds from the final whistle.

Would the pompous pundit been so sure, had it been the other way round? I think not...

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