Anyone who had the pleasure of being inside Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace secured a dramatic late win over Watford will know that there were scenes of absolute bedlam across the ground. Luckily, the club’s official site caught it all on camera.
Having toiled with no reward for 88 minutes, Palace’s night was sparked into life by Wilfried Zaha, whose low shot from the edge of the box caused Gomes to spill his save and produce Bakary Sako with a chance to level the scores. Luckily, the Mali international took the invitation with his second attempt, salvaging at least a point for the Eagles as the game ticked into added time.
Thanks to the timely sending off of Watford midfielder Tom Cleverley, Palace’s fans and players smelt blood when the sight of six minutes was put up on the fourth official’s board, provoking Zaha into a moment of absolutely wizardry down the left-hand side of the Hornets penalty area. Taking Daryl Janmaat on with the sort of drive, pace and power that has made him Palace’s talisman in the years since his debut, he found enough space to slide a pass across the penalty area, where James McArthur was waiting to guide it home.
Whilst we’ve enjoyed our fair share of big goals at Selhurst Park in recent years, I’m struggling to think of one I’ve celebrated with as much exuberance as I did last night since Dwight Gayle’s leveller in that famous 3-3 draw with Liverpool in 2014. To be behind after 88 minutes and win, lifting us off the bottom and out of the relegation zone in the process lead me to feel as though my head was about to explode.
On a night of low temperatures and even lower expectations following the visitors’ third minute goal, the Palace faithful were treated to an ending that has got us all dreaming of a potential run towards safety in 2018. It sounds like a cliche but it’s experiences like McArthur’s last-gasp winner that keep you going back for more week after week.
I can’t say for sure if we’ll survive relegation in May but after a win in such dramatic circumstances, I don’t think anyone can question the desire within the squad to make sure of our top flight status long before the season reaches its conclusion.