Crystal Palace 3:2 Leicester City
Paulo Sousa’s reign got off to a losing start at Selhurst Park on Saturday despite a spirited second half comeback…
This didn’t feel like a new era, Sousa’s first line-up seeing most of the Third Division Champions side with a starting place, with Gallagher injured and Wellens on the bench.
Selhurst Park was in a bouyant mood before kick off with Palace celegrating their financial survival and a large and noisy contingent of visiting fans.
The opening 20 minutes were promising enough for City, before the weather, and the game, turned.
In the 20th minute Eagles’ keeper Speroni’s huge clearance was nodded on into the path of Zaha who outstripped a cumbersome looking City defence before firing the ball past Weale into the roof of the net.
Six minutes later a horrified away support looked on as a speculative 25 yarder from Ambrose beat Weale on its second bounce.
It got worse four minutes before the break with City defenders chasing shadows in the penalty area. Zaha’s shot was saved by Weale but Lee had a simple tap in to make it Palace 3:0 City at the break. Rarely has an eagerly awaited Big Kick Off turned into a damp squib so swiftly.
Fryatt missed an opportunity to reduce the deficit just before half time screwing the ball wide from three yards when it looked easier to score from a decent N’Guessan cross.
The second half saw an improvement from City, roared on by some fantastic support.
Dyer cut in from the right to send a shot ricochetting off the bar, but the City fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate.
In the 57th minute Neilson delivered an inch perfect cross from the right and King nodded it in at the far post.
Although they were controlling the game City didn’t manage a second goal until the 84th minute. Neilson pumped a ball up the flank, Davies allowed it to bounce over his head and Howard took advantage, sending a slide rule pass for Campbell to convert at the far post.
The City fans sensed a comeback of Lazarus proportions, and roared the boys in yellow on with every corner and half chance, but the Palace defence saw out four minutes of time added on and it was victory for George Burley and defeat for Paulo Sousa in their first game.
We were told to expect low scoring games with Sousa in charge… perhaps things will change when he has some of his new signings in the line-up.
The new boss observed: “I think we started well but conceded two silly goals. What I saw in the second half was a team with more anger to turn the situation around. I think we became a better team and created more chances.”
Palace: Speroni, McCarthy, Davis, Bennett, Clyne, Ambrose, Garvan, Dorman, Cadogan (Andrew 63), Lee (N’Diaye 63), Zaha (Djilali 77). Subs Not Used: Price, Barrett, Holland, Holness.
Leicester: Weale, Berner, Hobbs, Neilson, Morrison, King, Dyer, Oakley, Fryatt (Howard 61), Campbell, N’Guessan (Wellens 60). Subs Not Used: Kennedy, Logan, Parkes, John, Moore.
Referee: A Woolmer (Northamptonshire). Attendance: 17,486.