WHILE all of the attention might have been on Kevin Phillips after the Charlton victory, EAGLES columnist SAM ROSS was far more impressed by the impact of fellow deadline day signing Stephen Dobbie.
SATURDAY’S derby win over rivals Charlton couldn’t have ended any better after that dreadful opening 45 minutes.
The Eagles were booed off at half-time by the majority of what had been a very edgy and nervous crowd at Selhurst and while I disagree with booing your own players, it was hardly surprising.
Palace had no control of the game and were unable to provide any real threat going forward, something extremely rare this season.
But thankfully the second half was an entirely different matter as Charlton, who should have been at least two goals ahead by the midway stage, came out to defend their still narrow lead. It was obvious Ian Holloway, after presumably berating his players at half-time, sent his team to go all out attack.
The inclusion of Kevin Phillips for the disappointing Jacob Butterfield was spot on and had an instant impact, with Palace’s tempo rising instantly.
Sometimes being 1-0 down makes things easier for a manager, whereas being 1-0 up away at your rivals presents the dilemma of whether to go in search of a second or sit back and hold on.
Chris Powell went for the latter and while it is easy in hindsight to say he got it wrong, it was quite obvious from the opening five minutes of the second half his side were going to be up against it.
Defending flat out for a full 45 minutes means the whole team has to be fully focused, especially your centre halves, but Leon Cort and Michael Morrison were not.
Glenn Murray was allowed far too much space in the area for his equaliser, while Cort’s marking and misjudgement for the Palace striker’s second was poor and proved extremely costly.
From then on Charlton suddenly tried to change to attack mode.
Addicks stopper Ben Hamer, who after time wasting from the 46th minute onwards, was ironically and amusingly desperate to get the ball off a not so keen Holmesdale crowd.
After defending for so long, Charlton were unable to recreate anything going forward except from an optimistic driven effort from Scott Wagstaff, Charlton’s main threat, who was then bizarrely replaced.
Kevin Phillips drew huge plaudits after his performance, but for me the most exciting bit of business of the January transfer window is Stephen Dobbie.
Phillips is already linking up well with Murray but Dobbie’s presence on the pitch sparked life into Palace with every move.
With Jonny Williams back to full fitness, it is pleasing the Eagles have two midfielders with real flair who are seriously challenging Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie for a starting place. Saturday’s win was also crucial for Holloway, who was getting a fair bit of stick from fans in the first half.
The Palace manager has done some great late work in January and certainly provided the Eagles with the ability to challenge for automatic promotion.
Follow us on Twitter @NewsShopperSprt