BY MATT WOOSNAM
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson refused to be disheartened after his side spurned several chances in a goalless draw at home to Newcastle United.
Palace hit the post in the first half through Luka Milivojevic, whilst Mamadou Sakho missed a gilt-edged chance by heading wide with just eight minutes remaining.
They struggled with potency up front, but Hodgson was full of praise for the French defender.
“He’s disappointed [with the missed chance], but he had an outstanding game.The two centre-backs were really good right the way through. So it would have been quite fitting for him to win it for us after that performance.
“We played well enough to win the game. We created enough chances to win the game, but it didn’t go our way today. I’m not disappointed because it was a good performance from start to finish.
“We’ve got a lot to cling to today, as it was a good team performance. I can’t fault anybody through the 90 minutes, and that’s good to take forward into the coming games. We are by no means downhearted, because if we keep playing at that level home and away, we will get the points we need to stay in the league.”
Hodgson elected to make a substitution earlier than in previous games, when he introduced Max Meyer on 63 minutes, replacing Cheikhou Kouayte, and he immediately looked to drive forwards with the ball, before fading towards the end of the match. But it was enough to please his manager who was “very happy” with his contribution.
“He’s been training very well, we like what we see with him and Kouyate. When he came on, he did a very good job. He knitted out play together very well, and was lively. In our view, he’s a Premier League player.
“He is always in my thoughts to play. I’m quite lucky in that area of the field, as we have competition for places. [Jeffrey] Schlupp didn’t play, Meyer didn’t start the game, I have [Jairo] Riedewald and [Jason] Puncheon too, which is quite a nice problem to have. Over the 94 minutes, I was more than happy with the way all of the players acquitted themselves.”
Wilfried Zaha went off in the warm-up with a back problem but was fit enough to play the entire match. Hodgson confirmed that there was no serious problem:
“He was feeling something at the top of his back; his muscle was taped up. He was passed fit by the doctor and physio, and had no desire not to play the game.”
For the second consecutive game, Palace looked strong defensively, and Newcastle rarely threatened Wayne Hennessey’s goal, which pleased the former England manager.
“Our defensive discipline was very good, as was theirs. The bottom line is, Newcastle came here with a game plan to make it very difficult for us, and to deny us space. To cut down on the way that we want to play, so you have to give them credit for that. But we couldn’t have done an awful lot more today – other than the obvious of taking one or two of those goal chances which would have won us the game.”