since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 0 - 2 (1) Crystal Palace

Coca-Cola Championship 2005-06

Monday, December 26, 2005

Referee: A Woolmer

Manager: Joe Royle

Portman Road 15:00

Attendance: 27,392

Manager: Iain Dowie

Match Number: 3136


 Jon Macken (14)
 M Hughes (62)


M HughesM Hudson (80)
A JohnsonC Morrison (90)


 Jimmy Juan (71)
 Richard Naylor (80)
 Owen Garvan (83)
 T Popovic (16)
 Jon Macken (25)
 M Leigertwood (41)
 M Hughes (45)
 A Johnson (72)
 Jon Macken (77)
 Ben Watson (79)
 Ben Watson (89)



G Kiraly

F Hall

D Ward

T Popovic

M Leigertwood

J McAnuff

Ben Watson

M Hughes

T Soares

Jon Macken

A Johnson



J Speroni

M Hudson

D Freedman

C Morrison

W Andrews

Match Report

Palace cut by Woolmer the card sharp

It was around this time two years ago that Crystal Palace began the extraordinary run of form which took them from a place in the bottom three to promotion through the play-offs. Judging by this performance you could not rule out a similar resurgence, though Iain Dowie's team will need rather more favourable treatment from referees than the players received from Andy Woolmer yesterday.

In a game almost entirely without malice Woolmer booked six Palace players and sent off two, Jon Macken receiving a straight red for elbowing Owen Garven - which the player later insisted was no more than a "hand-off" - and Ben Watson for a second yellow. Throw in the three Ipswich players who were also booked and the impression is one of violent mayhem, which is surely too far from the truth for Woolmer to be comfortable with his performance.

Dowie, his ire tempered by goals from Macken and Michael Hughes, promised to have a close look at the video though he will do so on the basis that if this was a 10booking match then he is "a Dutchman". More to the point is that he will be deprived of Macken and, in particular, the outstanding Watson. A midfielder who came through the Palace youth system, the 20-year-old has vision and the ability to make the most of it with passes from any range. His set-piece delivery is outstanding.

With the help of the veteran Hughes, whose left-footed drive beyond the Ipswich goalkeeper Lewis Price from 25 yards after an hour must have been as clean a strike as he has ever hit, Watson was the dominant figure in a midfield in which the home side, playing with one up front, enjoyed numerical advantage. With Andrew Johnson beginning to approach his considerable best ahead of them, Palace always looked far more dangerous than an Ipswich team which played some neat football but rarely threatened Gabor Kiraly in the Palace goal.

That the Ipswich manager Joe Royle claimed to have little choice other than the system he deployed cut no ice with the Portman Road faithful, who reminded him they were supposed to be at home. Towards the end, when Palace's remaining nine were fending off Ipswich's 11 with ridiculous ease, there was even a subdued chant of "Royle out".

"Any team is only as good or bad as its front players and at the moment we're bereft. It's simple mathematics," said Royle. Injuries are a problem but they cannot excuse the poor marking which gave Macken room to sweep home Johnson's cross after 14 minutes or the failure to close Hughes down after an hour.

"For 25 minutes of the first half they didn't get close to us," said Dowie. "They came back into it after that but in the second half we were very resolute, which has to be pleasing." And promising.

Richard Rae (The Guardian)

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2005-06 Reports