Crystal Palace 1:2 Leicester City
Nigel Pearson shuffled his pack for the trip to Selhurst Park and produced a winning start to 2012…
No one could have predicted Pearson’s line-up to face Palace with full-backs Peltier and Konchesky out in favour of Liam Moore and Tom Kennedy who had just returned from loans spells with Bradford and Peterborough. They performed the wing-back roles with Tunchev brought back alongside Mills and Bamba in a 3-5-2.
In midfield former-Eagle Danns replaced Wellens and he was to have a big influence on the afternoon’s proceedings.
After a slightly shaky start for the new look City defence, which saw Garvan uncomfortably close to Schmeichel’s goal, City began to gain some ground. Bamba went close with a header from a Danns corner and then the ex-Palace man put City ahead in the 18th minute thanks to a gift from Palace keeper Price.
Price’s quickly taken kick struck the back of Murray and fell for Danns on the left who cut inside Clyne before curling a fine shot into the net. He followed this with the fashionable ‘muted-celebration’ against a former-club. You play for us now… CELEBRATE!
1,255 visiting fans were celebrating again in the 37th minute when City extended their lead after resisiting a spell of home pressure. Keinan fouled the pacy Schlupp and Danns delivered a good free-kick which was nodded on by Nugent for Bamba to bundle home at the far post.
City fans were allowing themselves to contemplate the possibility of being only the second side to take 3 points from Selhurst Park this season, when Palace struck back four minutes before the break.
Good work from Garvan set up a chance for Parr who beat Schmeichel with a fine finish.
It could have been worse for City with Schmeichel saving from Murray just before the half-time whistle.
The second half saw another change-round for City, with Dyer on for Tunchev and a reversion to 4-4-2.
Palace did most of the attacking in search of an equaliser, but City stood firm. Murray, Garvan and Zaha all went close but couldn’t find a way through a determined City rearguard.
Beckford and Howard were introduced for the last 15 minutes but Howard’s contribution consisted of telling the linesman something that earned him an straight red card.
Ten man City held out for a very welcome three points, ensuring a Happy New Year, and perhaps showing that Nigel Pearson does have a Plan B after all.
Palace: Price, Clyne, Keinan, Ramage, Parr, O’Keefe (Ambrose 55), Jedinak, Garvan, Zaha, Murray (Easter 73), Scannell (Martin 72). Unused Subs: Fitzsimons, Dikgacoi.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Mills, Bamba, Tunchev (Dyer 46), Moore, King, Abe, Danns, Kennedy, Schlupp (Beckford 76), Nugent (Howard 75). Unused subs: Gallagher, Weale.
Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight). Attendance: 14,460.
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