A late wonder strike by Burnley’s Junior Stanislaus was enough to send The Eagles spinning to their first defeat of the New Year and further cemented Turf Moor’s reputation as an unlucky ground for Ian Holloway.
Palace have struggled of late to recapture the form that swept them to the Division’s summit in November and again they were pinned back for much of the first half, but regrouped well after the break and deserved to get something from the game. The resurgence owed much to the re-introduction of Jonny Williams, midway through that half, but despite that Palace paid the ultimate price on the counter attack.
Despite a bright opening when Glenn Murray shaved the outside of the post in the first couple of minutes, Palace were disjointed for much of the first half as Burnley made hay on the right flank, with the impressive Kieran Trippier swinging a series of dangerous crosses, but thankfully for Palace, chance after chance went begging.
The Clarets were without their first choice strike force of the prolific Charlie Austen and Martin Patterson and with no other player on the park having scored more than two goals for them this season. The home fans’ frustration was palpable as Sam Vokes, Danny Ings and Stanislaus all wasted good opportunities.
The Eagles are clearly still getting to grips with the midfield losses of Kagisho Dikgacoi on international duty with South Africa for up to eight weeks, and also the news that Owen Garvan’s injury will keep him out for up to three months.
The young Irishman is the type of player that divides opinion amongst the fans, some feel that he isn’t strong enough in the tackle and gives away possession too easily, but most agree that his slide-rule, defence-splitting passes have been one of the major factors in Palace’s rise up the table.
On the evidence of the first half, his absence was keenly felt. Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha were both effectively starved of the type of service that they have previously thrived upon, resulting in both having to come into the middle of the park in search of the ball.
Stuart O’Keefe is still finding his feet in Dikgacoi’s role, seemingly preferring to anchor the midfield alongside Mile Jedinak, rather than range forward as the South African often does to great effect. With Andre Moritz giving a Darren Ambrose-like performance - occasional flashes of brilliance, amidst longer periods of anonymity – it did have the effect of inviting pressure, leaving Palace to try and counter on the break.
On 30 minutes that so nearly paid off when one of Zaha’s trademark jinking runs ended with his fierce lash stinging Lee Grant’s palms in the Burnley goal, but that was to prove to be Palace’s only on-target chance of the half.
In the second period, Palace looked a much better proposition, but still failed to create too much of note, until the introduction of Williams on 68 minutes. His impact was immediate, giving The Eagles real impetus and drive in the middle of the park. Moritz looked none too happy at being asked to make way for the young Welshman, but it was undoubtedly the right decision as he was instrumental in setting up Zaha and Murray with decent chances.
Unfortunately, he was also noticed by Burnley’s enforcement officer, David Edgar, who proceeded to dish out similar treatment to that earlier ‘enjoyed’ by Zaha and Bolasie. Quite how he stayed out of the referee’s notebook after a series of dubious challenges is something of mystery. Although Williams has been somewhat injury-prone, he seemed unfazed by the attention. This served to panic some of the more vocal home fans in vicinity of the press box, who exhorted their men to ‘Take his flipping legs’ every time he got on the ball. Well, I think that’s what they were saying…
With Palace pressing forward, Burnley succeeded on the counter where Palace had failed in the first half. With ten minutes left on the clock, a series of mistakes meant Palace failed to cut out the breakaway and the ball found Stanislaus on the edge of the box, who was given time to pick his spot and curled a perfect shot into the top corner. It was to be his last touch of the ball as he appeared to pull a muscle during a complicated celebration routine and had to be replaced.
Despite this body blow, The Eagles continued to press and so nearly rescued what would have been a deserved point, when Mile Jedinak headed against the bar following an injury-time corner.
Loanee striker Alex Nimely got his first outing in Palace colours in the final few minutes, but there was not enough time to assess his potential impact on the side.
As Palace Boss Ian Holloway pointed out in the post match press conference, his side are now without an away win in six games. The last victory on the road came at Peterborough in mid-November. Tonight’s Cup replay at Stoke gives the Club an immediate chance to break the sequence. With a lucrative televised home game against current Premiership Champions, Manchester City as the prize, The Eagles will be hoping it’s a case of Lucky Seven.
Palace: Speroni, Parr, Ramage, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, O’Keefe (Nimely 82), Bolasie (Wilbraham 90), Zaha, Murray, Moritz (Williams 69).
Subs not used: Easter, Parsons, Gabbidon, Price.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Lafferty, Duff, Shackell, Edgar, Marney, Ings, Wallace (Bartley 82), Vokes, Stanislas (Treacy 82). Subs not used: Richards, O’Neill, MacDonald, Long, Jensen.
Goal: Stanislaus 79
Booked: Treacy 90
Ref: Gavin Ward
Posted by neil.