In their previous two matches Palace had baffled their fans by overwhelming Coventry City 4-1 but then losing 1-0 at home to struggling Brighton after a run of three victories. Coventry's manager, Micky Adams, had suggested that Palace had a huge advantage, mainly because they could take Clinton Morrison off the field and replace him with Andrew Johnson. "A £3m striker for one worth £9m,'' he suggested enviously.
He might have changed his tune if he had seen forlorn Palace against Brighton. Admittedly, Johnson was out with a recurrence of his knee injury, as he was yesterday, but there was a distinct lack of quality all round.
Burnley set out yesterday as if to exploit any hangover. Although having only Ade Akinbiyi as a permanent striker, they supported him quickly and on a broad front. It took Palace 25 minutes to do much more than provide Morrison with the occasional opportunity from unpromising distances.
As is often the case with Palace, their response was largely the result of Jobi McAnuff getting up a head of steam down the right. His touch led to Morrison powering a finger-bruising low shot into the hands of Brian Jensen, who parried it because doing anything more was out of the question.
Clearly, Morrison was on a hunting trip and just before half-time he got his prize. Marco Reich drifted the ball into the penalty area, McAnuff headed on and Morrison climbed to beat Jensen in the air and head in.
After a first-half collision, McAnuff was unable to appear in the second, and Dougie Freedman joined Morrison in attack, replacing Jon Macken. If anything that increased Palace's strength, but their manager, Iain Dowie, was surprised that the crowd "became edgy and it transmitted itself to the players".
Burnley added Gifton Noel-Williams to their attack, which infused some sharpness, but Akinbiyi failed with a header that had seemed unmissable. Palace punished them in the 78th minute when Morrison stabbed the ball across the goalmouth and Freedman thumped in his first goal of the season.Reuse content