Crystal Palace 2 Leicester City 2 match report: Defensive frailties on show at Palace
Sunday 21 April 2013
Crystal Palace's manager Ian Holloway is struggling to defend himself. His gung-ho style has had some success after Dougie Freedman's passing game travelled 230 miles north to Bolton. But three points from a possible 21 has taken Holloway's side from automatic promotion contention to clinging on to the top six.
With attacking intent comes a few drubbings. Three goals shipped at Brighton and Ipswich, not to mention four at home to Birmingham, highlighted defensive frailties. Yesterday it showed no sign of fading.
"I am disappointed to get in front twice," said Holloway. "But you've got to take what you can. I was impressed with the courage of the lads."
Palace were ahead on 26 minutes through Danny Gabbidon's placed header from Stephen Dobbie's deep free-kick, their first goal in nearly 500 minutes.
But the home side soon grew nervous. The outstanding Anthony Knockaert allowed Lloyd Dyer to square for Andy King, who cleverly finished past Julian Speroni from six yards.
After beating Hull on 5 March, their last win, Holloway aimed high. "I don't think first place is claimed yet," he said then. That spot has now been cemented, and the mood has changed.
"If we had won ten in a row and just climbed into this position then we would all be on a high but because it is the other way round it is 'why haven't you done this'.
"The mood will transform itself [in the play-offs]. I should know all about it. Yes I am with a different team but so what," added Holloway. "I will keep calm. You've got to put an ice cube down the vest of terror."
His team showed no such calm after the break. Ritchie De Laet went close for Leicester with an unmarked header, and Jeff Schlupp blazed over from eight yards.
Things soon picked up for Palace. Aaron Wilbraham headed against the crossbar from point-blank range, before Dobbie curled home from 18 yards after a melee on the edge of Leicester's area. But they panicked again. Damien Delaney's slip allowed Chris Wood through on goal, thrashing home into the top corner to level it again.
Nigel Pearson's young side have improved lately after just two wins in 14 league games, and he was under no illusions as to who deserved three points.
"I think we were the better side," he said, showing signs of frustration. "For the most part we coped with their threat well and showed some resilience. We created most of the chances and played some good football."
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Zaha, Dikgacoi, Marrow (O'Keefe, 78), Dobbie (Bolasie, 75); Murray (Phillips, 85), Wilbraham.
Leicester (4-4-2): Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan (c), Keane, Konchesky; Knockaert (Kane, 90), King, James, Dyer (Gallagher, 89); Wood, Schlupp (Nugent, 73).
Referee Andy Madley.
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