BY ANDREW McSTEEN
A 2-1 defeat against Brighton and Hove Albion at Selhurst Park yesterday not only saw the Eagles lose in the Premier League to their rivals for the second time this season but fail to move another step closer to top-flight security, remaining in 14th place with 33 points – five above safety with eight games to play.
The loss, thanks to two wonder strikes firstly from former Palace man Glenn Murray, and then a sublime finish from Anthony Knockaert – interspersed by a Luka Milivojevic penalty – also meant Roy Hodgson’s men could not take a winning feeling into their FA Cup quarter-final against Watford next Saturday.
“To have the previous couple of results we have had, especially away from home and the really good one we had last week [against Burnley], we came into this match full of confidence,” said Palace defender Scott Dann after the match. “It was a big couple of weeks for us – we wanted to get another three points on the board but today hasn’t gone to plan.
“To lose any game is disappointing, but with it being a derby and the atmosphere we had at the stadium, it’s tough to take, like any defeat, especially when we felt we should have done a lot better with the amount of possession we had. We controlled the game for most of it and just couldn’t quite move the ball quick enough to hurt them in possession, they got back in numbers and blocked it up.”
The home side had gone down to a first-time strike from Murray in the 19th minute following a hopeful downfield punt from the visitors which got caught in the swirling SE25 wind. As Dann’s central defensive partner James Tomkins called for the ball, the wind caught him out and he misjudged his header, putting the ball straight into Murray’s path for a clinical finish, against the run of play and a dominant Palace side at that point.
“I think James was just going to head it and it goes in the wind, but I would have to watch it back,” said Dann. “It goes off his head and then he [Murray] takes it so well and puts it in the back of the net.
“We started the game on top so to concede like that was a bit of a kick in the teeth. The ball moves in the wind, it happened a lot of times in the game. It is a goal which between us [both] we probably shouldn’t concede, so it is a collective thing.
“We got ourselves back in the game, but we conceded that goal towards the end. Obviously we are bitterly disappointed. I think we played very well, but at the same time the two goals that we’ve conceded they’ve never had many more chances than that which makes it more difficult to take.
“We have to dust ourselves down and move on very quickly, because although we are disappointed we have still got a lot of work to do – we will come in on Monday ready to work hard leading into the game [against Watford] which gives a chance to get to Wembley and the semi-finals.”
IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD