Crystal Palace 0 Birmingham City 4: match report - Palace fail emphatically as Blues take advantage of Zaha absence

 

Crystal Palace would have gone second had they beaten Birmingham City at home this evening, and most expected them to do just that. But they failed emphatically, and were well beaten 4-0, their first home defeat since August and their worst home league loss since 2009.

It was a jarringly bad performance from Palace, a line-fluffing from the whole cast. Earlier in the afternoon Watford, one point ahead in third, had slipped up, conceding in the last minute to draw 3-3 with Burnley. That was bad, opening the door for Palace, but this – which Ian Holloway described as a “huge dent” in their ambitions - was far worse.

Palace could point to the lack of Wilfried Zaha, their best player, who was suspended. In his absence, though, Birmingham took it on themselves to provide all of the vigour, imaginative, pace and style that Zaha usually brings to Selhurst Park.

Holloway did have Jonny Williams on the pitch but Lee Clark’s youngsters were far superior. Nathan Redmond, Ravel Morrison and Shane Ferguson – 19, 20 and 21 respectively – all scored with the other coming from a Damien Delaney own goal to which all three contributed.

Redmond and Morrison were the two best players on the pitch. Palace had nothing as good as them going forward – Williams and Yannick Bolasie were poor and Kevin Phillips and Glenn Murray were isolated up front. More to the point, though, Palace could not stop Birmingham’s young attackers.

Palace should have been alerted when Redmond shot over after 10 minutes and, half-way through the first-half, he put Birmingham ahead. Taking a pass from Wade Elliot, Redmond shuffled past Mile Jedinak, beat Delaney, made himself space and fired into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box. “He’s a super footballer,” Clark said of the teenage winger, “he plays high-tempo, he can beat people, he’s playing really well.”

Redmond’s great friend Morrison, playing behind Nikola Zigic, was involved in all of Birmingham’s attacks. Six minutes after the first goal Morrison’s header from Redmond’s cross was well saved by Julian Speroni. Zigic met Ferguson’s resultant corner and Delaney deflected it in.

Palace started the second half better but could not score when they needed to. Birmingham were too sharp, and made the decisive goal after 63 minutes. Ferguson played in Mitch Hancox who crossed to Morrison, who waited for the ball to cross him – trusting his technique - and finished first-time in the bottom corner. The disappointment was obvious and five minutes later Mile Jedinak cut down Morrison 20 yards out. Ferguson punished him by curling the free-kick into the top corner.

“He’s a very, very talented young man,” Clark said of Morrison afterwards. “My voice is done in because I had to talk him through the 88 minutes, he’s like a kid in the park playing with his mates. He’s starting to produce performances and that’s all we can ask for.”

Clark, whose only frustration was that Birmingham had not played like that earlier in the season, said that a four-goal win did not feature in his “wildest dreams”. Holloway was equally surprised, and admitted he has a real job to do over the final seven games. Second-placed Hull can move four points ahead of Watford and six clear of Palace with a win tomorrow.

“It’s about what you’re thinking when the ball goes in the net and what are you going to do about it,” said Holloway, whose post-match press conference was interrupted by a Palace fan worried that their season is going wrong at the worst possible moment. “I have got to pick them up and get them going again. I think our lads are hamstrung by wanting it too much, we have got to make sure we remain calm.”

Crystal Palace (4-4-2) Speroni; Richards (Dobbie, 45), Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Bolasie, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Williams (Moritz, 70); Phillips (Wilbraham, 70), Murray

Birmingham City (4-4-1-1) Butland; Caddis, Davies, Robinson, Hancox; Redmond, Fahey (Mullins, 67), Elliott, Ferguson (Ambrose, 87); Morrison (Reilly, 84); Zigic

Man of the match: Morrison

Match rating: 8

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments