Crystal Palace v Southampton
1st September 2018
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg scored his first PL goal to seal the win
IBO Reporter : thestartledsaint
It was a sunny Saturday and we piled into the the car to see the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace and resplendent they were in their match day attire, Mark Hughes in his Boss suit and Eddie Niedzwiecki and Mark Bowen in their tracksuits cut a dash at Selhurst Park.
Buoyed by our midweek win at the Amex and and the autumn sunshine there was a sense of anticipation in the old school stand at Selhurst Park and this was matched by the team as they started at a good tempo. Hughes employed a 442 formation and fielded the same team that lost to Leicester; Cedric and Bertrand lined up with a middle pairing of Vestergaard and Hoedt in defence, with Elyounoussi, Lemina, Hojbjerg and Redmond in midfield and Ings and Long up front.
As lively as the opening tempo was it still felt like it was going to take a lot of effort to open up a decent chance and equally it felt that we were just a single mistake away from giving them a decent opening. This just underlines the fragile state we are in, we can come on to the field with good intensions but this can easily dissipate if the opposition get a foothold in the game, but maybe us fans need some faith because the players were resolute through out the match.
Cedric tore a strip off Hoedt early on for leaving him marking Benteke and Hoedt trudged off disconsolately back towards the Arthur Wait stand probably knowing that this would further arm his detractors. However, one person that has faith in him is Mark Hughes, as Hoedt has been ever present so far in the league campaign, it has become clear that he is preferred to Bednarek as the left sided centre back and that him and Vestergaard are the favoured centre back pairing. His style is to let a high ball drop, get it under control and play it and this is underlined by his high passing accuracy and his calmness on the ball. Him and Vestergaard won as many aerial battles as any other playing on the pitch apart from Benteke who was a monster in the air, this could have been a problem if the Belgium was on form.
As it turned out he fortunately wasn't and equally fortunate was Wilfried Zaha’s absence because Palace didn’t really carve out anything decent other than Benteke early miss and another miss after Alex McCarthy flapped at a cross ball in the six-yard box. Prior to that it appeared that Long was fouled in the penalty area, but subsequent viewings showed that he had got his feet caught up as his tried to reach a Elyounoussi cross. The Norwegian is starting to find his feet although he still seems a bit lightweight, he had a lively game and enjoys running with the ball but does get muscled off easily. On one clash with Schlupp, the Palace midfielder seemingly applying a normal level of force lifted Elyounoussi off the floor and I had sympathy for Schlupp when the ref blew for a foul because he wasn’t expected such an easy submission.
Elyounoussi took the resulting free kick and floated a decent ball in that would have reached the head of Ings had Milivojevic not intercepted the ball turning it goal wards, this forced a great save from Hennessey. Had we taken the lead that way it would not have been anything less then we deserved, we were lively during the first half and looked to move the ball forward. It might not be the cutting edge football of Klopp and Guardiola but it was entertaining nonetheless.
I always enjoy a half time when we have played well and I stood in the sun looking forward to the second half to begin and we were rewarded almost straight away with an early goal. Long making his second start always provides an outlet with his ability to control the ball, with this in mind Cedric lifted a long ball centrally to Long. Long jumped with Sakho and took a hit in the face and pulled out of the attempt to collect the ball, this fooled Kelly and the ball travelled across to Ings who prodded to ball through the legs of the oncoming Hennessey. The goal was followed by a period of ‘energy management’ football where we looked to keep the ball and force Crystal palace to chase around the pitch, however as adapt as modern footballers are at controlling the ball there was the increasing feeling in the stand that playing this way will result in a costly mistake and sure enough Hoedt and Vestergaard were forced into errors. This prompted Palace to apply some pressure and they came close to an equaliser when Lemina pressing the ball deep in our half left McArthur free in the middle who curled the ball over McCarthy and on to the cross bar.
Long pulled up with a muscle injury and was replaced by Austin, who straight away got on to the end of another Cedric cross, his soft prodded shot was inexplicably handled by Palace’s Tatooine defender Wan-Bissaka. Austin’s poor penalty was saved by Hennessey’s legs and our penalty woes continue, oh how I long for simpler times when getting a penalty meant we scored.
Palace made a series of substitutions and this provided the platform to launch an assault on the Southampton goal. Austin’s poor penalty was matched by Benteke’s equally poor header in the dying minutes of the match, he met the ball again but planted his header against the legs of McCarthy. We held out and this was partly due to our desire to protect the lead, we didn’t allow the panic in the stands to affect us and when the ball fell to Hoedt in the 92 minute he looked up and slotted a nice simple ball to Targett who played it first time into the path of a motoring Højbjerg. Hopefully he thought twice about diving and cut his run across Kouyaté knowing that a foul would waste some of the 6 minutes of extra time, the foul never came and so Højbjerg carried on running towards the goal and stuck a thundering shot to finally secure the points.
The eruption of relief in the Arthur Wait could have woken up the real Crystal Palace dinosaurs and the joy was matched by the Saints players, this I feel is the thing that will set us apart from the last two years, yes Hughes is old school and his football isn’t as sexy as my sister thinks he is, but he has got us acting like a team again, which is a far better watch then anything we were served up last year.
We may not have the striker we need to reach the Koeman heights again; we have a willing runner that has the scoring rate of an acned teenager, a crocked hot shot who runs as though he’s not stepping on the cracks in the pavement, an Italian that doesn’t fit into out style of play and and a youngster trying to develop his game, but we are decent elsewhere, we have good options in midfield, an improving defence and Hughes is trying to cultivate a style of play that will get something out of that forward line up.
I know at the time it felt like a Hughes had messed up his subs by leaving Austin as the loan striker, but he was forced to bring Austin on and he gave him 16 minutes with Ings to get a goal. He changed Elyounoussi for the more defensive Targett and finally stiffened up the midfield up with the introduction of Romeu for an blistered footed Ings. On paper this all seems correct.
I enjoyed the interjection by the bloke next to me who didn’t say a word all game, apart from joining in to the ‘is this a library chant’, which by the way illustrated how the atmosphere in the home end has been affected by the loss of the Holmesdale fanatics. That didn’t matter to us as we wondered off towards Crystal Palace Park with the sound of ‘yellows, yellows, yellows, yellows’ ringing in our ears.
Danny Ings scores another goal, Saints first of the afternoon
29 Wan-Bissaka - Booked 64'
3 van Aanholt
10 Townsend (Kouyaté 72')
15 Schlupp (Meyer 76')
14 J Ayew (Sørloth 76')
4 Vestergaard - Booked 77'
11 Elyounoussi (Targett 73')
9 Ings (Romeu 78')
7 Long (Austin 62')
Saturday 1st September
Crystal Palace 0
- Ings 47'
- Højbjerg 90'+2
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance : 25,495
- Crystal Palace 51%
- Southampton 49%
- Crystal Palace 20
- Southampton 19
Shots on Target
- Crystal Palace 6
- Southampton 6
- Crystal Palace 7
- Southampton 4
- Crystal Palace 11
- Southampton 12