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All smiles on Roy's Return
So we started off April with Roy Hodgson's return and a home game against Leicester, who were five spaces below us in 17th but only 2 points behind us. This looked like a genuine relegation battle, showing how tight things were at the bottom.
Roy made 3 changes to the line up from the Arsenal game. Guaita, Andersen and Eze came in making for what looked like a more attacking side than in the previous game. This proved to be the case when in the first minute Wilf had a shot on goal which was blocked by one of their defenders. The crowd were truly up for it as well as Selhurst was rocking with noise.
We played some really good football with Wilf, Mitchell and Schlupp causing them lots of problems down the wing. Unfortunately just before half time Wilf pulled up with a groin strain and had to be substituted by Ayew. We went into the break all square at 0-0.
Leicester came out in the second half much brighter and on 56 minutes Pereira struck past Guaita to make it 1-0 to them. But this wasn't to last and 3 minutes later Eze was brought down just outside the D and won a free kick. He took the free kick himself with the ball hitting the bar and then the back of their keeper before landing in the back of the net.
Palace continued to dominate and besides a few good chances were not able to get the second until the 94th minute when Ayew spotted Mateta and sent in a lovely cross for him to poke the ball into the net. The game finished 2-1 with a win for Roy in his first game back.
Next up was the away trip to Leeds and another potential relegation battle, with us still sitting in 12th and Leeds just sitting outside the bottom 3.
Again Roy started with a very attacking side but we went behind to an early goal on 21 minutes. It was scored by none other than Patrick Bamford of all players!
To be honest I thought 'here we go again', another corner not defended well and really an easy header for Bamford. When will we sort these set pieces out?
Shortly afterwards we almost got level from a corner of our own with Jeffery Schlupp heading against the post. I thought we were playing very well and had the upper-hand, then in first half stoppage time we got a free kick from about 30 yards out. Eze sent a delightful ball into the box which was met by Schlupp who headed onto Guehi who smashed it into the goal, his first goal of the season. The first half ended 1 all.
We started the second half really well then on 5minutes, Olise floated a lovely ball in from the right wing and Jordan Ayew leapt well to head the ball into the net giving the keeper no chance. Once again we had come from behind to take the lead. The away fans went mental and got right behind the team.
From then on we dominated and on 55 minutes Olise got the ball again on the right wing, stroked it into the path of Eze who was clear on goal and suddenly its 3-1. By this time I think Leeds were completely demoralised.
Within 15 minutes Olise got the ball again but this time ran straight down the middle to set Edouard up for Palace's 4th. I must say I loved his celebration, pointing to his wrist to say about time. But that was not to be the last goal as on 77 minutes Hughes took a stab from just outside of the box which deflected into Ayew's path for his second and our 5th. I really wish I had made the trip up to Leeds now.
So in only his second game back Roy has managed to turn things around, with 6 points from his first 2 games. Still leaving us in 12th but looking a lot less likely to be relegated.Embed from Getty Images
Eze's on fire
Next up was another away trip down to Southampton, dare we think of 3 wins in a row? We started the game in 12th on 33 points with Southampton rooted at the bottom with only 23 points, so it really was a must win game for both sides.Wilf was still unavailable due to his groin strain but Palace did start the game full of confidence following the win at Leeds. Michael Olise continued his good form from Leeds and even managed to put the ball in the net only to see it ruled offside by the linesman. The first half never really got going with both sides being very cautious and it ended all square at 0-0.
In the 54th minute Eze found Ayew with a lovely ball to the far side of the box, running towards goal Jordan's effort was met by the keeper who only managed to push it into the path of Eze for the simplest tap in. From his reaction I think he was a bit embarrassed for the keeper, who should really had done better. But as they say “a goal's a goal” and we went 1-0 up which I think we truly deserved.
Of course this sent the away fans into chants of “Eze's on fire”. I think we could be hearing a lot more of that in the next few games. Less than 15 minutes later Eze shot from about 30 yards out putting the ball in the bottom corner to score his second of the afternoon. Despite the win we still stayed in 12th place, but to be honest I'll take that at the end of the season.
Oh did I forget to mention 3 wins out of 3 for Roy and Ray? Its been a long time since we did that. In fact the last time was also with Roy in charge.
Everton at Home
So on the back of 3 wins in a row we were to face Everton at home.
A game I was really looking forward to as this was a real relegation battle with Everton in 17th place on 27 points, just 4 off bottom place, and Palace were not out of it yet.
To be honest the game was pretty dull with neither side having any real clear cut chances although just after half time Palace did have the ball in the net from an Eze effort only for it be ruled out for offside.
Ten minutes from the end Mason Holegate was shown his second yellow card for another foul on Ayew, Palace pressed hard to get the winner but to no avail so the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
This result put us on 37 points and only 3 points away from the magic 40. Surely with 6 games left to play we were all but safe and we could all relax a bit and look forward to yet another year in the Premiership. Plus we were now 4 games unbeaten so the confidence seemed to be growing with the players.Embed from Getty Images
The long road to Wolves and back
So it was on to a Tuesday night game away to Wolves. I can never understand why the FA do this making people travel long distances on a working day but you know what TV always has the last say.
With Wolves flying high and in search of a European place, I was not expecting to get anything from this game so because of this and mainly the distance involved I decided not to travel.
The game started pretty dire for us with Andersen conceding an own goal in the third minute to put Wolves 1-0 up and although we battled bravely we could not get the goal that would bring us a draw. Then in the 94 minute we conceded a stupid penalty. I think Sam Johnstone was lucky not to see red. Neves stepped up to score the penalty to finish the game 2-0.
Hammers at the double
To end a busy month of 6 games our next game was against West Ham, who we had beaten at there's 2-1 back in November with a last minute goal from Olise. I was looking forward to doing the double over them.
It was a lovely sunny day and a 12.30 kick off, I think our first one of the season, so there was everything to look forward to especially as it was a Derby and both teams were still in the relegation battle.
Palace started the game really pressing and going for it but West Ham were awarded a corner, which Olise got his head to but only to put it into the path of Soucek to drive the ball home and put the visitors 1-0 up.
We didn't have long to wait for Ayew to score putting the ball low into the corner after some brilliant build up play and a final pass from Olise. As you can imagine this sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Only 9 minutes later a long ball from Andersen found Ayew who passed to Olise who whipped the ball into the box for Wilf to have a simple tap in at the far post.
2-1 to Palace and chants of “Who are you?” rang around the ground. Ten minutes later Soucek took a heavy touch allowing Jeffery Schlupp to steal the ball from him to leave him 1 on 1 with the keeper. He kept calm and slid the ball under the keeper making it 3-1.
Things then got very exciting with Palace having most of the game until in the 35th minute West Ham were awarded a corner which was flicked on by Soucek at the near post for Antonio to head the ball home making it 3-2 at half time. So we had 5 goals in just 35 minutes and I think everyone was looking forward to the second half as it seemed the game had more goals to come.
Palace came out for the second half and managed to control most of the game with some great football. Then just after the hour we were awarded a penalty when Eze seemed to be dragged back in the box. After a short delay for a VAR check the penalty stood and up stepped Eze to make it 4-2.
Then in the 72nd minute West Ham were awarded another corner and again the ball was flicked on by Soucek for Aguerd to score making it 4-3. I'm really hoping Roy spends some time on the training ground sorting out this problem of conceding from corners.
40 points and safety
However with only 18 minutes left on the clock we managed to hold onto the win and go onto 40 points and safety. This was one of the best games I have seen for ages and congratulations must go to Roy who has been nominated for Manager of the Month, well deserved too.
So that's my view of April all that is left for me to say is Please vote for your Player of the Season and I hope to see lots of you at the AGM on the 10th June.
Chairman CPFC DSA