BY MATT WOOSNAM
Roy Hodgson said his Crystal Palace side were unrecognisable in the first half of their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield at Selhurst Park, but praised them for turning it around in the second period.
Palace found it difficult to break down their opponents who, despite being well-drilled, were clearly lacking in genuine quality.
They were improved in the second half as the Terriers were forced on the offensive in an attempt to delay relegation, which ultimately proved fruitless when Wilfried Zaha was fouled in the area and Luka Milivojevic scored the resultant penalty, before Patrick van Aanholt’s late strike put it beyond doubt.
For Hodgson, the turnaround was important, and he felt James McArthur, who came on at half-time for Max Meyer, was particularly impressive, as well as changing to a 4-4-2 formation.
“It was hard to recognise the team in the first half – we weren’t sharp enough, we weren’t quick enough to the ball, we made passing errors, which is not something I’ve seen a lot of during my time here. Our passing is normally very good. We were playing against a team who actually did pass the ball well, and had good shape as well.
“I didn’t think we were anything like what we needed to be to win the game. I thought there were lots of gaps in our game, a lot of unforced errors in our game that you can’t afford to make in a game of such importance that you need to win. You can’t have that luxury of making those mistakes or not reaching that level of aggression or sharpness that’s needed.”
At half time, things were looking bleak. So I must give our team an awful lot of credit for the way they came out in the second half. We made a couple of slight adjustments, and in the second half we were much more like ourselves.
“I was very pleased that the players determination shone through. We pulled ourselves together. I thought pushing Wilf up front, and bringing McArthur in made a difference to our play.”
The Palace boss admitted he was unsure that his side would end up taking all three points, having missed several excellent chances through both Zaha and Andros Townsend, but was relieved not to have to talk about those wasted opportunities.
“We created some really, really good goal chances. At one stage, I was worried it was going to be one of those games, when I’d be sitting here and you would be telling me about the incredible misses you thought we’d been guilty of, and it would have cost us points!
“Luckily, I can laugh the misses off, as we got two goals to win the game. I’m hoping that if we create have as many chances against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, we won’t miss them.”
“It’s given us those three points we were desperate to get today, after we missed out on the chance to get to closer to safety against Brighton.”