(c) Neil Everitt
[l-r] Wilfried Zaha, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Anthony Gardner, Nathaniel Clyne, Jermaine Easter, Sean Scannell, Mile Jedinak
I can’t fault the effort of any of the players you see above.
We were set out to defend our slender aggregate lead, and so the farcical own goal early on seemed to throw our plans out of the window. Save for a few counter-attacks we were under the kosh for plenty of the game. McCarthy’s red card made the task of getting a goal even harder, and so players and fans alike were delighted to settle for penalties. The less said about those, the better…
It’s a shame we didn’t get the day out at Wembley, but Cardiff had the better football over the two legs and I’m certainly happy enough with a win at Old Trafford from our run. After the recent years we’ve had I’m happy to enjoy all of this season’s exploits thus far, and will continue to do so.
Bring on the Brighton next week. The double over them would be LOVELY.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City
Something to hold on to in the 2nd leg in a fortnight’s time. I’ll struggle to think of anything else until then.
Tonight’s The Night…
Crystal Palace v Cardiff City
Carling Cup Semi-Final, 1st Leg
After the relief that followed our relegation battles at Hull last year and Hillsborough in 2010, it’s great to have Palace go into an important match with a different kind of pressure.
Rather than survival on or off the pitch, these semi-finals promise a day out at Wembley against Liverpool or Man City (and an outside shot at Europe) for the winner. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.
The loss of several key players to a virus - Speroni, Clyne, McCarthy, Gardner, Jedinak and Scannell all affected - will not make a hint of difference to the atmosphere at Selhurst Park tonight. Save for a few restricted-view seats available on the day, and the seats Cardiff fans have somehow managed not to snap up, the ground is a sell-out for an occasion not seen at a Selhurst evening game since the incredible Sunderland play-off in the 2003-04 Dowie season.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Dougie Freedman changes Palace’s defensive system for the home leg. If McCarthy and Gardner miss out as feared then it could be a tough night in store for Peter Ramage and emergency loanee Jon Egan, who didn’t enjoy a great afternoon together in the FA Cup defeat to Derby County.
Zaha and Murray will be entrusted to get the goals needed to take to the imaginatively-named Cardiff City Stadium for the 2nd leg. With Cardiff’s record at home, we cannot go there expecting to shut them out.
I don’t know about you, but I’m quite excited.