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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

Tuesday 3rd April.

The important thing when you are playing one of the teams also involved in the relegation dogfight is not to lose. This is especially so when you are playing away from home, and Town needed all of their battling qualities to rob the home side of two precious points. Macari’s team selection today sprang no real surprises as Delroy Facey earned a start at the expense of Ben Thornley who surprisingly didn’t feature in the 16 at all. This meant an all Huddersfield striking partnership of Booth and Facey, with the lively Lee Morris continuing his role on the left wing.

Heavy rain in the south east made for a greasy pitch more suitable for Rugby League than football, and both teams began the game cagily as they were more intent on not letting the advantage go to the other side. Chances were at a premium in the early stages, but it was the home side that were more adventurous as they tried long-range efforts from Tommy Black whose effort was wide of the target and David Hopkin had a shot easily saved by Nico Vaesen. Town created little in front of goal, and as the half progressed it was clear that Crystal Palace had the more attacking ambitions as both Morrison and Zhiyi tried their luck but failed to trouble the Town keeper.

Town’s defence battled resolutely as further chances fell to Mikael Forsell and Matthew Upson, but once again their accuracy was lacking and failed to seriously trouble Nico Vaesen. Late in the first half Forsell was again well positioned with a header, but in keeping with the rest of the half headed the ball wide from just 6 yards out. As the half drew to a close Delroy Facey created Town’s best chance with a rasping 20 yard shot that the Palace keeper did well to turn around his post, but with the scores level I would gladly have accepted the full time whistle at this stage.

Knowing that Town are a second half team I anticipated an improved performance in the second half, but unfortunately it was the home side who were in the ascendancy. Their half time lecture must have told them to up the tempo of the game and find their shooting boots, and unfortunately for Town they heeded the words. Palace soon got into their stride and began to control the midfield, providing their forward players with far more support than they had enjoyed in the first 45 minutes.

Centre backs Chris Lucketti and Jon Dyson had to be at their best to repel the constant threat of Forsell and Morrison, whilst Steve Jenkins seemed to revel in the atrocious conditions as he set about the onerous task of containing Tommy Black. Shots that would have been wayward in the first half were starting to find the target, and Nico Vaesen had to be alert to deny the dangerous duo of Morrison and Forsell. After about 55 minutes Chinese international defender Fan Zhiyi had to be focused to deny Delroy Facey, but after that it was more or less all one-way traffic from Palace.

Soon after the hour mark Clinton Morrison let rip with a volley that thankfully whistled just wide of the mark with Vaesen well beaten, then within a few minutes had to react smartly to save a Matthew Upson header. Moments later David Hopkin tried his luck with a volley only to see it pass narrowly wide of goal, and this was to mark the end of Town’s attacking ambitions. Macari brought on Kenny Irons for the ineffective Simon Baldry in an effort to shore things up in midfield but it was all hands to the pump, as the entire side seemed to be on defensive duty.

Town were possibly guilty of defending to deeply at times and when they were able to make a partial clearance there were insufficient numbers available to hold possession and give the back four some respite. It was nail biting stuff as Crystal Palace continued to launch wave after wave of attacks with the recently returned David Hopkin pulling the strings from midfield. It was gritty stuff from Town, and had they shown this kind of determination in the first 3 months of the season would probably be in a nice comfortable mid table position, if not pushing towards the play-offs.

Lee Morris was sacrificed for Jim Brennan in the 79th minute as Town looked to consolidate at the back and hang on to the point they had worked so hard to earn. Brennan did in fact have a very good surging run towards the Palace goal, but lacked support and his eventual pass was wayward. It was the other end of the pitch that saw the majority of action in the last 10 minutes or so as the home side looked for the goal which would have put some daylight between the teams both on the night and in the league table. All looked lost when in the 86th minute Clinton Morrison sprang the offside trap, and as he looked to despatch David Hopkins pinpoint pass Nico Vaesen pulled off a wonderful reaction stop to deny him. The seconds ticked slowly by as David Hopkin continued to taunt the defence, but Town stood firm as they resisted the last flurry of attacks and corners that ensued.

It was a huge relief when the referee finally called time on proceedings and allowed Town to escape with a point. One point was not enough to lift us out of the bottom three as Stockport picked up a surprise point away at Bolton. More importantly, however, was a display that showed that the team still have some fight for the remaining 8 games of the season. They are now within a win of the three teams immediately above them and have at least one game in hand so our destiny is back in our own hands. It’s a simple equation, win 7 of the last 8 games and our first division status is guaranteed, the only problem with this is that we have to get these wins against some of the high-flying teams like Fulham, Blackburn and Birmingham.

Crystal Palace 0


Position in table – 22nd

Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Lucketti; Dyson; Heary; Morris (Brennan 79); Armstrong; Gorré; Booth; Facey (Gallen 86); Baldry (Irons 62). Subs not used – Margetson; Moses.

Crystal Palace – Kolinko; Upson; Austin; Zhiyi; Rodger; Morrison; Black (Rubins 80); Forsell; Harrison; Hopkin; Riihilahti. Subs not used – Carlisle; Berhalter; Fuller; Verhoenen.

Referee – Rob Harris (Oxford). Attendance 15,324



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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