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February 21 2019 11.52pm

Back to the bottom

December 10 2017

Christian Benteke

Christian Benteke

It was a freezing south London day and with our recent gradual improvement, supporters hoped for a victory against Bournemouth. A squandered penalty chance in added time left Jamesey bitterly disappointed after a 2-2 draw.

I was tempted to head this column “Suicide Squad” but it would have probably have incurred the editor’s displeasure and have been unfair on all the squad except one… and we all know who.

Surely by now it is obvious that there are no easy games in the Evenmorepilesadough League. Nevertheless it has to be said that Bournemouth at home (Dec 9) are a greater prospect for points than Man City away.

A well educated and erudite group of people like Eagles supporters hardly need reminding of the Greek mythological legend of Sisyphus. The unfortunate fellow fell foul of the Gods and was punished by having to repeatedly push a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll down again.

This season seems to have parallels when the team turn in some really great performances only to see a stroke of misfortune turn a win into a draw or a draw into a defeat although there have been a couple of rare last-minute scoring exceptions.

After such a catastrophic start to the season CPFC seem at least to have stopped losing and supporters were not unreasonably hoping for three points.

Anyhow the long and the short of it is that after a very entertaining game against the Cherries before which we were standing at third from bottom (lofty heights this season), the Eagles turned a win into a draw and sank firmly back to bottom of the table once more.

Add to this the facts that Bournemouth had not scored a single goal in their visits to London this season. Of course, they scored twice at Selhurst and fellow strugglers Swansea and West Ham both won unlikely victories too.

And so it goes.

As mentioned above, the game itself was a thoroughly entertaining spectacle with both sides out for a win and making attack the major tactic.

The number of outright chances missed by the Eagles in the first half must have had the Greek gods sniggering up there but a penalty from Luka Milivojevic and a poached side drive from Scott Dann notched up a brace for the Eagles.

Jermain Defoe had opened the scoring for Bournemouth and his opportunist lob above Julian Speroni just before the half-time whistle, killed off Palace’s hopes of a midway lead. What a fabulous buy from the Maccems he was for them after many had written him off as over the hill.

Looking at the diminutive Cherries striker’s performance really makes this supporter pine for someone like Defoe up front - deadly when given even half a chance although he has had an almost barren season until his arrival in south-east London.

The second half was more of the same but with no goals although chances galore were there for the taking and an uncharacteristic mistake from Defoe robbed him of a hat trick.

Just as it appeared that a draw was unavoidable, in time added on a fortuitous penalty was awarded to the Eagles after a challenge on Wilfried Zaha.

Expecting the designated penalty man Milivojevic to step up to the spot, it was surprising that Benteke seemed to grab the ball and then execute an appallingly weak kick which was easily saved by Begovic.

The Palace support was stunned - we’ve all heard of a “smash and grab” raid but a “grab and flop” raid was a new one.

So the golden opportunity for three points was squandered and it is sad that the grief that Benteke will receive could overshadow the fact that he had a very good game and looked far more like his old self again.

And at least we didn’t lose!

The recent announcement of long-overdue developments at Selhurst make it crucially important to stay up on the Gravy Train to pay for it all.

Palace fans, although highly vocal and loyal at present, do not have a good track record for sticking by the club after relegation. The mid-‘70s was an exception but football was a different business then.

Despite TV becoming more and more significant for revenue and paying spectators at the games of less importance, it would be a shame, if it ever happens, to see a 34,000 capacity ground only one-third full, if that.

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