BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Wayne Hennessey reckons a double arrival is behind his consistent performances for Crystal Palace.
The big Welsh shotstopper credits the arrival of goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely in January, along with summer signing Vicente Guaita, as the reasons behind his own personal success.
“Dean has come in and he’s been absolutely fantastic, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with. I am glad he’s come in,” said Hennessey.
“All the goalkeepers are delighted with him and what he does off of the field as well. We’re doing our homework and it’s improving my game and hopefully it continues.
“Vicente is learning English – but I am not the sort of man he should come to! He’s getting lessons, and he’s obviously improving.”
Palace are joint sixth with Watford in the Premier League defensive tables, with just eight goals conceded.
Boss Roy Hodgson has finally settled on a defensive back five of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt and Hennessey.
The Eagles number one made big saves from Callum Wilson and Dan Gosling in the final seven minutes.
But a moment of madness from Mamadou Sakho saw the French defender strike the face of Jefferson Lerma at a free-kick in the box and Junior Stanislas converted the 87th minute penalty to take a 2-1 win.
“We were playing really well in the second half.
We would have definitely liked the point but it’s a cruel game – it’s little silly mistakes like the penalty that cost us,” said Hennessey, who has made 26 saves this season and kept three clean sheets.
“You’ve got to make saves where you’ve got to try and make yourself look big.”
Next up for Hennessey and Palace are newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers – in ninth spot on 12 points. The Championship title-winners have conceded just five goals.
It will be the first time Hennessey has faced his old paymasters since leaving them at the end of the 2014 January transfer window, ending a 10-year association with the club he kicked off his career at.
“They’ve started absolutely fantastic,” said Hennessey, who played more than 150 times for Wolves.
“I know what sort of club it is, it’s an absolutely fantastic club, with great fans and I can’t wait to play against them.
“I haven’t had that opportunity before but on Saturday there is one, so I can’t wait and hopefully we’ll get three points.
“They are a very good team at the moment but they won’t like coming to us with the atmosphere at Selhurst, which we will like, and hopefully we can get some points.
“I’ve not really kept in contact with Wolves as lots of players have left and it’s been over five years since I left.
There’s one or two players there like Matt Doherty, who was really young when I was there and was in and out of the team.