Crystal Palace’s trip to Southampton yesterday was never likely to be the most rip roaring of affairs, but it did feature a screamer of a strike from a certain Jason Puncheon.
On what what was a strange afternoon for the Palace faithful, we saw an intentionally understrength starting XI equip themselves well for the first hour at St Mary’s, before falling to an extremely harsh 4-1 defeat.
Having seen Julian Speroni uncharacteristically flap at a ball when attempting to punch it away from danger, Saints grabbed the lead as Mane scooped the botched clearance back over the Argentine’s head and into the centre of the goal, leading to a 1-0 margin in favour of the hosts at the interval.
It was shortly after the resumption of play that Southampton added a second, as Pelle headed home from close-range after a possible push to the back of Adrian Mariappa; only for Puncheon get Palace back into the game almost immediately with an absolute thunderbolt in front of the travelling fans.
Finding the ball at his feet on the edge of the 18-yard-box, the former Southamptoon midfielder took aim and smashed a left-footed belter across the face of goal and into the side netting to Forster’s right. It may have been the only goal we managed to score on the day, but there is no doubt about the fact that it was the best of the five efforts seen by the watching crowd.
Should he manage to produce a strike of similar power and technical prowess at a vital moment of this weekend’s FA Cup Final clash with Manchester United, there is a good chance I will pass out with joy.
We can but hope.