Some thought it might never happen again but last night, Crystal Palace FC scored and kept a clean sheet to beat Premier League Huddersfield Town in the third round of the League Cup.
In what was Roy Hodgson’s second game in charge of the Eagles, he made a number of changes to the starting XI that took on Southampton at Selhurst Park last Saturday. We saw Julian Speroni, Jairo Riedewald, Luka Milivojevic and returning hero Mamadou Sakho brought in and for the vast majority of the first-half, the boys in red and blue were the better side by far.
Having removed Christian Benteke from the team, Bakary Sako was given more of an outright attacking role than normal and it was through him that the Eagles broke the deadlock midway through the opening 45 minutes. With a corner being swung in from Andros Townsend, the big man directed a header into the Whitehorse Lane goal, calming the nerves of everyone in attendance and giving his teammates a platform from which to build.
To the credit of both Roy and the players, we looked defensively sound throughout, no doubt buoyed by the composure Sakho offered at the heart of our back line. With Pape Souare being introduced at the interval, the crowd were given a further lift and despite emotions running understandably high, the left-back put in a genuinely solid performance, twice saving the team from conceding in the space of a few second-half minutes.
Seeing the game out with a clean sheet for the first time this season put a smile on plenty of faces, particularly when you consider that we managed it with club legend Julian Speroni (who was made captain for the night) in between the sticks.
Perhaps this was the jolt everyone at the club needed to kick on in the coming weeks. Yes, our next three fixtures look incredibly daunting but for the first time in months, we’ve played a game without any sign of negative fallout, getting within 90 minutes of a cup quarter-final in the process. It’s all about baby steps at this stage.
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