DON’T CALL US A BAD SIDE RAPS HOLLOWAY
Palace boss puts faith in Eagles
CRYSTAL PALACE boss Ian Holloway hit back at his side’s detractors after a battling draw with play-off favourites Brighton.
Winless in nine before a dramatic final day victory against Peterborough, the out-of-form Eagles have been widely tipped to struggle in the playoffs. In perfect contrast, opponents and bitter rivals Brighton finished the season unbeaten in nine, the best run in the division.
Yet those who expected a repeat of Palace’s meek 3-0 surrender at the Amex in March were to be disappointed, with the home side recovering from a nervy start to finish justifiably disappointed with a draw after seeing two efforts cleared off the line.
“People now know we’re not as bad as they might have thought,” said Holloway. “And I think my lads have realised ‘Hang on a minute, we can get at these and we aren’t bad at soaking up pressure’.
“Reports of our demise have been exaggerated. We’re not a bad team. I know we’ve had some bad results, but we’ve not actually deserved them.
“I could see the strength coming back here. We gained in confidence, gained the ascendancy. All we didn’t do was score. Now we’ll go there and they’ll have to watch us because we’re not bad at counter-attacking.”
Holloway, though, will be without 30-goal top scorer Glenn Murray, who left on a stretcher after twisting his knee late in the second half.
“He won’t be fit on Monday,” confirmed Holloway.“We’re not sure what it is yet, but the doctor is saying possible damage to his cruciate.”
Given the flamboyant reputation of these two sides, it was tempting to expect a footballing feast. Alas, the occasion proved far too prohibitive.
Other than a few rapier thrusts from Wilfried Zaha and Jonny Williams, the first 45 minutes was a fractured, messy affair. Palace in particular looked dreadfully jittery, the visitors very nearly punishing them in the first ten minutes as Leo Ulloa and then Dean Hammond spurned headed chances.
For a while it seemed Brighton would overwhelm them, but to Palace’s credit – and that of all-action midfielder Mile Jedinak – the home side pressed, battled and tackled their way to something approaching a level footing.
GETTING A LEG UP: Brighton’s Liam Bridcutt, left, challenges Aaron Wilbraham