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July 3 2020 6.28pm

Hat-trick Hodgson seals new deal

March 8 2020

Palace big men size up the Watford defence

Palace big men size up the Watford defence

Eagles boss Roy Hodgson celebrated his contract extension with a third consecutive 1-0 victory in a gritty and hard-fought game against Watford at Selhurst. Jamesey reports.

“You’re going down with the Brighton” – the calls began to sound from the Palace crowd after another colossal goal from Jordan Ayew was enough for three points.

In the past few seasons, matches against Watford have become testy and physical and this one was no exception with eight yellow cards shared between the teams.

I can’t really say when the nastiness crept in but it was probably after the 2013 play-offs final at Wembley when Wilfried Zaha won a penalty, duly converted by Kevin Phillips. It was enough to take Palace up and, needless to say, the Watford view was that Wilf had taken a dive.

Before that, this supporter in his more mobile days, used to enjoy the somewhat convoluted train journey to Vicarage Road for a pleasant away day. Not quite so agreeable nowadays, I would imagine?

Anyhow back to more immediate matters, Watford had sprung a surprise by beating the probable runaway Pilesomoulah league champions Liverpool last week – a true giant-killing exercise to destroy the Scousers’ unbeaten record.

Palace supporters hoped they had used all their good fortune in that win and would be an easy ride. That certainly wasn’t the case and the Hornets swarmed dangerously everywhere and, in all fairness, certainly didn’t look like relegation fodder despite the taunts mentioned above.

However just before the half-hour, a lovely move involving James McArthur and Christian Benteke saw Jordan Ayew smash the ball through a couple of defenders for a great strike. That, like his goal against Brighton the previous week, turned out to be the match winner.

And it must be said, that despite the howls from the “experts” for Roy to drop Benteke, the big Belgian has been instrumental in both the Eagles’ last two winning goals and is justifying the manager’s patience. He may not be scoring yet but that and his all-round team contribution have been enormous. And that bicycle kick, narrowly missing the Watford target, was sublime. Carry on Christian, please.

Ayew’s strike seemed to take the wind out of the Hornets’ sails to a degree and the game continued in the manner we have come to expect from a Palace/Watford battle nowadays.

There were lots of fouls, niggles, scuffles and ill-tempered exchanges. Wilf seemed on the verge of boiling over at times which is, of course, what Watford were hoping.

Hornets' captain Troy Deeney continually complained to the referee and it was surprising he wasn’t warned for persistent whining (is that a yellow card offence?).

If that makes the match sound tedious, it certainly wasn’t, with entertaining attacking football from both sides.

Three clean sheets in a row must make Roy’s dreams really sweet. And if you think James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho were CPFC’s top central defending pair, Gary Cahill and Scott Dann look equally as good.

Palace’s exceptional keeper Vicente Guaita also produced his usual immaculate performance (OK, let’s forgive him that one shocker in the Sheffield United match… he’s only human). He made two world-class saves from Deeney in the second half. That would have been too much to take – an equaliser or winner from the Watford hate figure!

Finally, on the matter of the manager’s contract extension to end-2021, I really can't believe that some Palace supporters don't see staying in the Stacksocash as a terrific achievement to enjoy.

They seem to imagine that the primary objective on his job description as a mere incidental and Palace should be in the Champions League, thrashing Real Madrid 5-0 at the Bernabeu.

When I see Arsenal or Liverpool run on to the Selhurst turf I feel absolutely no nostalgia for my days watching in the Third Division (South), playing teams no one's ever heard of or would want to, on a mud heap in front of a few thousand, if that!

Premier League -– surely a pleasure not a matter for moaning?

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