Neil Warnock returned to Crystal Palace looking for his first win in seven attempts and leaving his former side nervously looking over their shoulders in what is a tight battle against relegation with time running out. The gang hit the road and travelled to South East London in hope of a vital win.
It all began as the gang all met up in the Northolt area with Lofty taking control of the wheel as we drove through London town and at one point we were caught driving the wrong side of the road in roadwork’s, not that the driver noticed until PK in the front seat pointed it out to Lofty. Luckily after that and with the help of the PK-nav we were using to get ourselves to and from the game, we arrived safely in one piece and headed straight to the Tasty Jerk eatery, which was recommended by a Palace fan on our R’s on the road article, for a Pork Jerk and rice meal that was simply delicious and is highly recommended to anyone that is in that area. After placing a few Grand National bets in hope of winning a few quid, it was me, Lofty, PK, Sam (who was kind enough to pay for my ticket today), Nik and Luke that took the short walk around to the away stand to enjoy a quick beer before we separated and took our seats on what was a hot day in SE25.
Four changes were made to the side that lost at Leicester on Monday. Radek Dusko Tosic, Akos Buzsaky, Tamas Priskin and Radek Cerny came in to replace Matt Hill, Lee Cook, Jay Simpson and Carl Ikeme, who has now returned to Wolves after his loan spell at the club.
Barely 10seconds into the game there was a horrendous clash of heads between Damion Stewart and Calvin Andrew as they contested a header. The big Jamaican had to be stretchered away after receiving over 6 minutes of treatment on the pitch. Palace striker Andrew left the field on 23 minutes after trying to play on with a massive lump on his head due to this collision.
It’s since been revealed that Stewart has suffered a hairline fracture of the skull and had a slight bleed to the brain, which has now stopped. This lunchtime the club have said that Stewart is stable in hospital and is being monitored on an hourly basis. We wish Damo a speedy recovery!
Back to the game.
Jay Simpson replaced Stewart as Peter Ramage switched to centre back, Leigertwood going to right back and Buzsaky going to his natural centre midfield role as Simpson took his place up front.
The reshuffle benefitted Rangers’ as they took the lead on 11 minutes.
Faurlin combined with Taarabt to release Hogan down the left side, his cross was only cleared as far as Tosic, who in turn crossed first time his cross was cleared to the halfway line to Ramage. Ramage fed Faurlin, who then passed back to Hogan on the left. His cross was picked up by Priskin and his passed back to Hungarian counterpart Buzsaky on the edge of the box and the Magical Magyar unleashed an unstoppable drive through three Palace defenders and into the left side of Julian Speroni’s goal to give the R’s an early lead and send the 2462 travelling fans into raptures!
This goal lifted an already lively Rangers’ support that was enjoying some early banter with the Palace support to both sides of us.
Rangers’ enjoyed the better of the first half and looked really comfortable despite having to rely on Radek Cerny to pull off a good save from Clint Hill who got in past the Rangers’ defence but was thwarted by the R’s custodian.
Rangers’ looked solid and went into the half time break fully deserving of the lead and came out of the blocks the fastest when the second half begun.
Taarabt, who was menacing all day, picked the ball up on the halfway line and ran at the Palace defence before passing to Hogan on the left and dually played in Priskin but the big striker thrashed his effort over the bar.
A second goal was always on the cards and it came on 60 minutes, somewhat controversially.
Clint Hill made a last gasp tackle to stop Jay Simpson going through on goal and his tackle looked to be sending the ball out for a corner until Speroni got his head to it and headed out for a throw in, only to see the linesman award a corner. After seeing replays it looks a harsh decision but you can’t be sure whether it was a corner or not.
From the resulting corner that was taken by Taarabt it was Kaspers Gorkss that ghosted in front of the Palace defender to head the ball into the opposite corner, leaving Speroni with no chance and giving Rangers’ a 2-0 lead.
From here it was all Rangers’ and they really should’ve extended their lead on numerous occasions but failed to capitalise and were lucky not to be punished on the two or three occasions that Palace managed to get efforts on goal.
A third goal was just a whisker away when Rangers’ broke away and Taarabt flicked a ball into Simpson’s path and he stabbed the ball just past the right hand post.
Priskin created a few chances for himself but found Speroni equal to him on a few occasions.
The final whistle blew and sealed Rangers’ first win at Selhurst Park for 21 years and more or less eradicate any relegation fears surrounding the club.
It was a fantastic performance by the whole team and you can only praise the efforts of every single player as all of them had a part to play at some point in the game.
Radek Cerny looked solid on his return. Leigertwood was comfortable at right back. Ramage playing in a more natural centre back role looks very steady and didn’t put a foot wrong. Gorkss had his best game for a few weeks and looks very assured. Tosic was comfortable and provided good overlaps, looks to have a very good footballing brain and is a good signing. Faurlin battled away all game and had flashes of brilliance throughout. Buzsaky flourished in a more natural centre midfield role and took his goal very well. Priskin created a few chances for himself, drifted in and out of the game but done fairly well. Hogan attacked the left very well and troubled Butterfield until he was finally taken off. Taarabt had a field day today and was given far too much space, created a lot of chances for his team mates. Simpson chased around all day and was unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet.
For all the reasons above it’s impossible to award Lofty’s Man of the Match
to anyone and will name the entire team as the stars of the show.
The Rangers’ support was fantastic on this crucial day and they too deserve a great deal of credit for the support that was given to the team. Their reward came after the game when the team came over to clap the fans and Ramage, Gorkss, Taarabt, Hogan and a few others (my mind has gone blank) threw their shirts into the crowd as a sign of appreciation. It looks as if we are all together as a club now and finally supporting each other once more.
Once again, we all wish Damion Stewart a speedy recovery and hope for more good news over the coming days and weeks.Palace:
Speroni, Hill, Derry, McCarthy, Ambrose, Danns, John, Scannell, Lawrence, Andrew (Clyne 23), Butterfield (Lee 58) (Ertl 70).Subs:
Carle, Hills, Ertl, Davis, Mann.Bookings:
Cerny, Ramage, Stewart (Simpson 8), Leigertwood, Buzsaky, Gorkss, Faurlin, Ephraim, Tosic, Priskin, Taarabt (Parker 90).Subs:
Putnins, Cook, Brown, Oastler, German.Goals:
Buzsaky (11), Gorkss (60)Bookings:
Mr N MillerAttendance:
20, 430 (2462 QPR fans)