Watford 0 Crystal Palace 2: Warnock boys become men for play-off charge

Enchanting yet enigmatic, an authentic sui generis, Neil Warnock has inspired another revolution – this time at Crystal Palace. Soon after he arrived as manager last October, Palace were 21 points behind Watford and in a state of transition. After the match on Saturday at Vicarage Road, where the allure of the characters eclipsed that of the football, Palace found themselves a point behind and gaining momentum.

"I haven't been this relaxed for years," Warnock said, relishing the absence of pressure. The 2-0 victory against Watford, more appropriate in actuality than it could ever have been in prospect, has consolidated Palace's position in the Championship play-off positions, which seems to have taken Warnock by surprise.

When Watford defeated Palace 2-0 at Selhurst Park in Warnock's third match in charge, it was, he recalled, "men against boys". This time, with men playing men, the result owed as much to Watford's profligacy in front of goal and uncertainty in defence as to Palace's slick finishing. "We had to play as much as we could on the break," Warnock said. "I said at half-time that we needed 10 minutes of quality to break them down. That's what happened."

The "10 minutes" was actually only four but enough time for Paul Ifill to score with a splendid half-volley in the 72nd minute, and for Victor Moses to score with a low shot in the 75th minute. "It's been a crappy season for me so it's nice to score," Ifill said. "It's good for Victor, too; it's frightening some of the things he can do."

For Aidy Boothroyd, the Watford manager, the sight of the Championship table is becoming frightening. At one point, automatic promotion seemed likely but now, having scored only 10 goals in 13 matches and won only once in 12, they cannot even take a play-off place for granted. "We're creating chances," Boothroyd said. "But if it [the drought] continues, I will have a problem."

Tamas Priskin came closest to scoring for Watford when he struck the crossbar early in the second half. But at the end, despite Watford's dominance, one was left with images of their defence suspended in the act of collapse and of their strikers holding their heads in frustration.

Goals: Ifill (72) 0-1; Moses (75) 0-2.

Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Doyley, Bromby, Shittu, Stewart (Ellington, 88); Smith, Eustace, O'Toole, McAnuff (Sadler, 73); Henderson, Priskin. Substitutes not used: DeMerit, Williamson, Kabba.

Crystal Palace (4-5-1): Speroni; Lawrence (Butterfield, 20), Hudson, Hill, Fonte; Soares, Derry, Watson, Sinclair (Ifill, 66), Moses; Morrison (Fletcher, 84). Substitutes not used: Hills, Scannell.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Booked: Watford O'Toole, Shittu; Crystal Palace Morrison, Soares, Speroni, Butterfield.

Man of the match: Moses.

Attendance: 17,694.

League ups and downs


West Bromwich Albion and Stoke are guaranteed at least a play-off spot.


Swansea win title. Forest, Southend, Doncaster and Carlisle in play-offs.


MK Dons and Peterborough promoted. Hereford, Rochdale, Stockport, Darlington and Wycombe in play-offs at least.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine