CITY BATTLE TO HARD EARNED WIN
Ashton Gate, Bristol
15 August 2009, 15:00
Palace gaffer Neil Warnock will undoubtedly be moaning his tits off on the Championship's version of MOTD tonight but City's hard luck at Preston last week was levelled out today.
Nicky Maynard, who bagged the winner in the corresponding fixture over Christmas last year, was again the match-winner today, notching one minute from time.
The match was inevitably, with Warnock in charge of the opposition, embroiled in controversy after the visitors had a clear goal ruled out in the first half.
On-loan West Ham striker Freddie Sears had appeared to give Palace the lead on 33 minutes only to be ruled out by referee Rob Shoebridge for bouncing out of the framing at the back of net!
It was an incredible stroke of luck for City, who had dominated much of the first half up to that point.
City should have had a pen in the opening stages after Bradley Orr was wrestled to the ground by the robust Clint Hill. Shoebridge, clearly in a reluctant mood, dismissed the protests.
Maynard tested the newly-disguised Speroni, sporting a new short back and sides hairstyle, presumably to avoid the 'gypo' chants of last year, following a McAllister corner on 21.
It wasn't long until the controversy arrived on 33 minutes. Speroni's long punt evaded Cole Skuse for Sears to nip in and slide home the opening goal!
But as he wheeled away celebrating his first goal for the Eagles, Shoebridge, after consultation with his linesman, ruled it out.
The decision was much to the amazement of the crowd and both sets of players and was one which mirrored Reading's 'goal' at Watford last year! It was a sheer farce!
It wasn't helped by the linesman being on the wrong side of the pitch to where the on-loan Hammer fired in, but be that as it may, he still opted for some Russian-1966 style drama, causing Warnock to go into his trademark rage!
The impressive David Clarkson was subbed at half-time for John Akinde, with no hint of an injury.
Johnson's decision baffled many in the East End but Akinde was soon in the action, being hacked down on the edge of the box. Hartley stepped up only to fire the free-kick straight into the wall.
Moments later, Palace's classy midfielder Darren Ambrose rocketed a 25-yard free-kick inches past Gerken's post and the visitors threatened.
City responded well though. Akinde was proving a real handful for the Londoner's and provoked more controversy from the inept Shoebridge.
After rolling Jose Fonte on 51 minutes, Akinde forced Speroni into a diving save but could only parry into the path of Hartley, who stabbed home at the first attempt but the same linesman stuck his flag up again to rule it out.
Gerken was then forced into a strong save from Shaun Derry's low-shot, before Ambrose came close from distance again.
Maynard had a good shout for a penalty ten minutes from time after having a shot seemingly blocked by the hand of N'Diaye only for Shoebridge to bottle another key decision.
Luckily, Maynard was to be rewarded for his efforts on 89, taking advantage of a calamatous mix-up between Hill and Speroni to curl home the winner from just outside the box.
CITY (3-4-1-2): Gerken, Skuse, McCombe, Nyatanga, McAllister, Orr, Elliott, Hartley (Fontaine 90), Clarkson (Akinde 46), Maynard, Sproule.
PALACE (4-4-1-1): Speroni, Butterfield (Lawrence 90), McCarthy, Fonte, Hill, N'Diaye, Derry, Danns, Sears, Ambrose (Scannell 90), Lee (Moses 90).
Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derby)
Him and Elliott ran the show in the midfield but Hartley just shaded it. Tackled hard, battled hard, passed very well. His Champions League influence was the difference between the two teams... asides from Shoebridge!
Ref at the heart of it... again!
But, after City were robbed of the three points they so deserved at Preston last week, luck evened itself out tonight with the first-half reprieve.
No doubt Warnock will kick up and stink in the press, but the fact is the marginally better side won and Palace's misfortune will undoubtedly will levelled out again soon... just as ours was today.