Yet again the Blades dash away having performed a late, late highway robbery act on Palace, this time escaping with a point that they truly did not deserve.
And who was the villian wearing the Dick Turpin mask? Well it just had to Steve Kabba didn't it?
Palace started the game in full control, despite an unusual formation that saw debutant David Hunt playing a very advanced right wing back position. Whelan saw an early shot that he didn't quite get hold off tipped around the post, but it was long before Palace's domination earned its reward. The hard-woking Adebola dribbled across the Sheffield defence before launching a daisycutter into the far corner on fifteen minutes.
Seven minutes later on a rare foray upfield, United equalised although thev goal had little to do with them. Allison chased down a ball heading for the goal line and tried the screw a cross back, Kolinko made a panicked grab for the ball as it came across and missed it. But the real villian was Tony Popovic who had all the time in the world to turn and clear, but instead sliced it into his own net under no pressure.
But parity was only to last seven more minutes as Whelan was playing in and smashed a low shot past Kenny to deservedly restore Palace's lead.
Sheffield had little to offer in response and Palace came off at half time to warm applause, just for a change. But it was no more than they deserved. Sheffield United hardly looked like a play-off side.
In the second half, doubtless on the end of a Warnock rocket, the oppostition looked more up for it, but lacked any real penetration. Only a scramble from a corner that somehow got deflected over the bar caused Palace any real scare. Gray was also unlucky at the other end from a similar scramble which hit Kenny on the line and spun over.
As the game wore, Palace decided to defend deeper and deeper and, ultimately, that was to be their undoing, but not before Warnock's Blades had Shown what a nasty and unsporting side they can be. Twice failing to return the ball to Palace after it had been put out for injuries. Each time using their long throw merchant to try and set up chances, thankfully both came to nothing. Although one was a little close for comfort. It's high time the powers-that-be got hold of this blatant cheating and permit the referee to book the thrower for ungentlemanly conduct.
Whilst defending deeply, Palace caught Sheffield United several times on the break and substitutes Freedman and Thomson were guilty of missing glorius chances to put the game beyond doubt.
And so, we entered the last five minutes, when Sheffield have put three goals past us (with the assistance of various officials) in previous encounters. Trust Palace, who'd turned in their most competent performance for some weeks, to let them do it again. Three minutes from time, Kabba seized a poor clearance from a corner and half-volleyed it home. Kabbs had received a good recption before the game, but after a blatant dive in the first half things had soured and his wild mocking celebrations ensured that his next recption here will be less than warm.
Sheffield knew they'd had a mighty let-off with two goals from only three decent chances and started to run the ball into the corners to protect their ill-gotten point, fearing that Palace might still unlock their shaky defence once again, but it was not to be.
The warm applause at half time was replaced by the usual disgruntlement, but certainly many of the catcalls were directed at Warnock and his team of cheats rather than at Francis. Quite right too.
Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Butterfield, Symons, Popovic, Borrowdale, Mullins, Derry, Gray (Black), Hunt (Freedman), Adebola (Thomson), Whelan Subs: Berthelin, Watson
Posted by neil