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April 23 2018 6.49am

Spiralling downward we go

December 18 2016

Punch blasts a free kick at the Chelsea goal but with no joy on this occasion

Punch blasts a free kick at the Chelsea goal but with no joy on this occasion

The league leaders, Chelsea, came to Selhurst seeking their 11th consecutive victory. Jamesey is sorry to say they succeeded with a 0-1 win.

Palace are sinking ever deeper into drop territory and two home defeats in four days against formidable opposition offered little cause for optimism.

Rail strikes and chilly evening weather put your columnist to shame and I opted for a wimp’s eye view of the Manchester Utd game (Dec 14) on screen.

Losing a couple of games against top-level clubs isn’t the end of the world but when you can’t win any others either, it is somewhat distressing to say the least.

The Eagles were barely able to get near the ball in the opening stages and an unusual formation in the first half seemed to confuse the players.

Nevertheless it looked like the Eagles had managed to keep it at 0-0 as half time drew near but as seems to be almost obligatory these days, United scored through Pogba in time added on.

That the ball was handled by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the scorer offside and the strike in time beyond the extra allocation mattered not one jot. The ref allowed the goal to stand. This was only one of the official’s surreal decisions although to be fair to the two clubs, Palace were beneficiaries too.

In the second period, a cheeky flick from Damien Delaney was stuck in by James McArthur.

Wayne Hennessey was in fine form and as the end approached it seemed as though a 1-1 draw was possible.

Of course, one mustn’t underestimate Palace’s current lust for self-harm when Ibrahimovic was allowed to score an admittedly top-class goal a couple of minutes from the final whistle.

Another defeat with the score at 1-2.

Four days later on a misty Saturday afternoon (Dec 17) Chelsea were the opponents and, on paper, were a far more dangerous proposition.

I usually buy a match programme for my archive although I sometimes don’t even read it. However two statements screamed out at me as I flicked through and CPFC’s capacity for self-delusion were spelt out in no uncertain manner.

Alan Pardew in his manager’s notes wrote the laughable statement that we “are not quite getting the results we all want”, even more ridiculous at 5’o’clock that day.

Team captain Scott Dann in his own page came out with a real classic. “They {ManU} didn’t get many chances or time on the ball.” Perhaps, he, like Pardew, had been taking a hallucinogenic drug?

As far as the game was concerned, the Eagles looked sharp to begin with, and were catching the Blues on the back foot.

Jason Puncheon made a total horlicks of Palace’s best chance of the match. Well anyone can make a mistake but it could have been a different game if that golden opportunity had been converted.

Then, just like in the Man U game, just before the half-time whistle, Diego Costa caught out the Palace defence and nodded in over Hennessey. Otherwise the keeper was once more in excellent form and made some terrific saves.

As the second half progressed Chelsea controlled the game more and more, making it difficult for any Palace penetration and rendering Christian Benteke a marginal figure.

Back in August, at a couple of pre-season friendlies, new boy Andros Townsend really looked the Bee’s Knees. As the months have passed he has frankly gone from ineffectual to useless.

In the dying embers of the game, he took a free kick from a promising position and hoofed it skyward, possibly disabling any drones hovering above Selhurst.

So, another loss at 0-1 and Palace now stand one place above the bottom three. One can only wonder how long the manager will be given before Steve Parish and the board will be forced into remedial action.

To conclude this regrettably dismal piece, sometimes cutting through the malice and vindictiveness that runs through the game of football, comes a moment of pure generosity and goodwill.

Chelsea’s Victor Moses who came up through CPFC’s youth scheme and is now a Blues first-team regular, was playing. After doing his best to get us relegated (an unfair statement really as he was only doing his job) he was substituted near the end of the proceedings.

Almost as one, the crowd gave him a tumultuous salvo of applause which he acknowledged as he headed for the dugout.

He was - and is - a great talent and had been a steadfast servant of our club. Like quite a few before him he had probably grown too big for the confines of SE25 but was sold to Wigan to raise money to bolster up Simon Jordan’s creaking outfit as we headed for administration.

Disconcertingly, the advertising hoardings kept flashing “BET VICTOR” throughout the game. I couldn’t help but think “Bet Victor scores”.

Of course, he didn’t but then he didn’t need to for his team to go home with three points.

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