Saturday, January 21, 2006

FLAPPING Crystal Palace 1-1 Reading

If ever a football club suffered from delusions of grandeur it's Crystal Palace. Despite a history which has yielded precisely zero major trophies and despite relegation from the Premiership last season after a mere season, the Eagles still see themselves as part of the high-flying elite as proven by their extortionate admission prices (the most expensive in the Championship), their outspoken and moronic chairman and their vastly overrated manager, the ear-piece wearing Iain Dowie.

It was with great delight that we took a well-deserved point away from Selhurst Park to maintain our 25 point lead over the South London side with ideas above their station; four points for little old Reading from Palace this season and the latest coming at a grotty stadium which always tends be a happy hunting ground for Reading with just the 1 defeat from the past 8 visits to SE25. Dowie stated in his programme notes that he still wasn't giving up on automatic promotion, yet despite six wins on the spin before last night they had made precious little impact on our substantial lead over them and conceding an equaliser just minutes after they took the lead from a generous penalty award must be thoroughly frustrating for them.

Palace certainly had their chances on the night, as Andy Johnson showed the watching England manager Sven Goran Eriksson exactly why he shouldn't be considered for the World Cup. After barely five minutes Harper, who had an otherwise faultless match, played an ill-advised and ill-timed backpass which allowed the slaphead Palace forward through. For the first and certainly not the last ocassion on the night Hahnemann denied Johnson and the resultant corner was headed high and wide. Hall and Macken then gave Hahnemann some handling practice before Reading's first chance; Little and Kitson linked up to allow Harper an effort which was charged away by the home defence. A couple of Convey crosses caused a stir and Little's pass across the box was swiped at and missed by Kitson, but otherwise it was Palace just about on top as Sonko got in before Johnson to hack away a dangerous ball into our box and Hahnemann also denied their top scorer with a fine save. At the other end, Kitson rushed in to almost loop Sonko's header over Kiraly and a fine ball from Shorey would have caused Palace more trrouble if it hadn't been met by the head of Little. Half time came with no goals but no end of half chances.

It was an end-to-end ping-pong of a second half in this table-tennis game of football. Little was denied by Kiraly's wrists despite a firm finish to a flowing move as the travelling support began to find their voices in earnest, outsinging the home fans for the vast majority of the game. Palace threatened from a series of corners which put us under pressure but Harper had two good chances early on in the second 45 - a long ranger which flashed wide and an effort deflected to safety adter good work by Murty. The otherwise quiet Doyle then had an excellent header from an equally brilliant Murty cross which was thrillingly tipped wide by Kiraly. The Hungarian is clearly an excellent goalkeeper although that didn't stop the Reading supporters mocking his choice of Pyjama-esque trousers with chants of #tracksuit from Matalan, tracksiut from Matalan# which were clearly audible for the watching SKY audience.

Another Palace player getting stick from the Reading support was that overrated cheat Johnson, who was denied twice by magnificent Hahnemann either side of the incident which gave the Eagles a barely merited and controversial lead. The Bald Eagle raced through onto a through pass from Reading boy Soares and despite the ball having apparently well gone he was caught by Hahnemann who had come to narrow the angle. Referee Kettle, who gave us very little all evening, couldn't blow up quickly enough for a penalty which JOHNSON dispatched high into the net before coming over to celebrate in front of the Reading fans who had taunted him, receiving a barrage of coins, drinks and a yellow card for his protests. But it wasn't long before the Reading fans were out of their seats again, this time in delirious celebration rather than riotous anger. Barely two minutes after the penalty, HARPER gave a Lita lay-off some violence as the ball flashed past Kiraly, and the familiar strains of #that's why we're top the league# rang out around Selhurst Park.

In those final ten minutes Reading looked the more likely to snatch it despite Hahnemann's astonishing save from Johnson at point blank range. Kettle whistled for the final time to signal yet another game unbeaten for Reading and in the opinion of Floyd on Football a well merited point despite the post-match opinions to the contrary of the increasingly tiresome Dowie. There was a very unsavory incident on the Holmesdale Road after the game when your correspondant was subject to a blow across the face from an ape of a Palace supporter, standing up for Handbags Harris who had been pushed to the ground in an unprovoked attack on the Holmesdale Road. Quite literally bloodied yet unbowed, Floyd on Football wishes Palace rotten luck in the play-offs which they are almost certainly doomed for.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Convey, Doyle, Kitson. Subs not used: Stack, Gunnarsson, Oster, Hunt.

Floyd's Favourite: Sonko. Soared higher than the Eagles.


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