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April 23 2024 2.55am

Harsh loss in Blades tussle

February 2 2020

Benteke duels with the Sheffield Utd keeper but the elusive goals just won’t come

Benteke duels with the Sheffield Utd keeper but the elusive goals just won’t come

The wind swirled when Palace entertained Sheffield Utd. Selhurst was buzzing eagerly for a home win but a 1-0 defeat was the result, Jamesey glumly reports.

What did the new Brexit era have to offer on the first day of the UK’s departure from 47 years of European union? Only disappointment in SE25 as a lively Eagles team dominated the match and failed to score a goal once more.

After a shockingly disappointing 2-0 home display against Southampton (Jan 21) the return of Luka Milivojevic, Patrick van Aanholt and Andros Townsend heralded a better show for an enthusiastic home attendance.

The Eagles certainly looked a livelier unit than they had in the Saints shambles and produced some fine attacking moves in the first period. Christian Benteke was winning the ball in the air but his shots didn’t really test the Sheffield keeper.

Even so, the home side were at least attacking and playing with aggression so it was disappointing to reach the halfway mark with a 0-0 scoreline.

The main talking point of the match was the blunder from keeper Vicente Guaita. This was apart from a red card (downgraded to yellow by VAR) issued to Joel Ward and an earlier incident when Blades’ Baldock, already on a yellow, escaped a red after a nasty foul on Wilfried Zaha.

In the 58th minute, the Palace keeper caught a relatively harmless Sheffield corner kick and appeared to bundle the ball into his own net.

The Eagles’ chronic inability to score goals meant that a rare blunder settled the match and the Blades returned home having done the double on CPFC.

Despite Guaita’s apology to the team he was told in no uncertain terms that the superb saves he has made for his team since his arrival by far outweighed that one uncharacteristic mistake. In this supporter’s view, the Spaniard stands as high as Nigel Martyn in the Palace goalkeeper pantheon.

The defeat saw Palace sink further down the table to 13th on Saturday evening. Once more the early season successful run prevents the position looking far more worrying.

Many of the crowd were wondering about the fellow in the red-and-blue shirt wearing No.11. No worries, it was only a new-look Wilf, shorn of his exotic hair style and looking positively normal. It certainly didn’t have a “Samson and Delilah” effect and affect his brilliant skills.

Nobody likes losing home games but later there was the usual backlash against Roy Hodgson’s management policies at the result. It’s phenomenal how many people know so much better than Roy how to select and motivate a football team.

An oft-heard whinge is that he only wants to keep us in the Premier and not win the Galactic Cup. Do I hear “only keep us in the Premier”?

Youthful ambitions are understandable and this very long-term supporter won’t bore readers with a heart-rending litany of “jumpers for goalposts” or “standing in the mud and rain in what is now the Main Stand” but when you have watched your team in the 4th, 3rd South, 3rd and 2nd over the decades, playing in the Premier for the 7th consecutive season is a monumental achievement.

Staying in the top tier is almost certainly the primary condition in Roy’s job description. Roy doesn’t work in a vacuum and the Premier income generated allows the club to pay high and competitive incomes to attract top players and hopefully to eventually allow the desperately needed stadium upgrades which a top club should have.

Win or lose, you see action in the top world league at Selhurst and what’s not to like is beyond me.

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