Palace win at Ricoh Arena for fourth successive time


Westwood, Osbourne, Ward, Dann, Fox, Mifsud, Gunnarsson, Beuzelin (Doyle 83), Tabb (Simpson 69), Best (Eastwood 61), Morrison. SNU Hall, Marshall

Speroni, Lawrence, Fonte, Hill, McCarthy, Derry, Watson, Oster (Ertl 92), Ifill, Scannell (Carle 78) , Beattie. SNU Kuqi, Hills, Moses

ATT 16,883
GOALS Clint Hill (7), Ben Watson (52)
REF C.Oliver
BOOKED Gunnarsson,
MAN OF THE MATCH Andy Marshall and Marcus Hall warmed up well. Ben Watson for Palace.

Yet again, it was a case of 'after the Lord Mayors show' as Coventry City gave Crystal Palace an easy victory at the Ricoh Arena.

After the win at Birmingham City on Monday night, the mood was good and there was plenty of hope that City had turned a corner.

But when we got into the ground after laughing at a Palace fan outside trying to start trouble with any one not giggling at his drunken swagger reminisicent of The Verve' s Richard Ashcroft, the mood went sombre.

We remembered those who served in two World Wars and subsequent conflicts before the mood of mine and visiting City supporters from both sides of the Irish border and Wales, turned to depressed when Neil (Colin) Warnock's side took the lead in the seventh minute.

City were unchanged for the game but the same players who battled so well at St Andrews were completely unable to replicate that form.

Palace had a free kick about 25 yards out. The ball was delivered to the far post for Pat McCarthy to head the ball down and along the goal line, where Clint Hill was waiting to thumping into the empty net.

After a delayed reaction, the 731 visiting supporters were jumping up and down, demanding Chris Coleman gave them a wave and accusing Clinton Morrison of an interest in narcotics.

One of the problems at the Ricoh Arena has been the booing at home games and there were clearly audible boos from the Tesco's Stand and sections of the CT Stand more populated due to the number of school tickets issued and a cheap offer via the Coventry Telegraph as the City players struggled to find any players with their passing and frequently put themself under threat by not being able to keep the ball.

Paul Ifill had Isaac Osbourne in his back pocket, leaving Danny Fox as the only City player to try and support Mifsud who was forced to drift inside far too often.

Fox took three corners in succession all with any real threat to Speroni's goal and Palace were quick to get the ball back up the CT Stand end. One mistake from the former Young Player Of The Year, saw the ball go to Ifill. Thankfully, his 24th minute shot was blocked and City escaped. Ifill was denied by Fox clearing his lines two minutes later as Palace's short balls continued to bypass the midfield.

Ben Watson, the best player on the pitch, might have had a 31st minute penalty when he went down in the area but there was nothing doing.

Both sides won a corner before City did get the ball in the net, six minutes before half-time. Aron Gunnarsson, who was trying without any evident success, had a shot deflected, it fell for Michael Mifsud whose header went into the net. The scoreboard flashed up 'Goal' but the assistant referee on the Main Stand side had his flag up and the goal was ruled out for offside.

Keiren Westwood started to show some urgency but it was no suprise that there were loud boos after the half-time whistle echoed round the half full arena.

Gunnarsson won a corner four minutes into the second half and urged the City supporters to get behind the team but in the 52nd minute, a needless free kick was given. Ben Watson took the kick and his low shot squirmed its way through the City defence nd past the wrong footed Keiren Westwood and into the net.

As a Palace fan in the Jewson End objected to being ejected, Chris Coleman decided to make changes. Jay Tabb was the first player to be switched in the 59th minute and two minutes later, Leon Best, who had City's only shot on target in the first half, was booed off before a loud cheer went up for the arrival of Freddie Eastwood.

Clinton Morrison, who did look like he was trying to score against his former team, won a corner but Simpson's powerpuff shot from seven yards was easily dealt with by Speroni, who fell down to waste a bit more time.

A run by Morrison to tackle Hill briefly lifted the City support, who cheered the persistance of Eastwood to win a 67th minute corner and then groaned ten minutes later as Michael Mifsud raced through on the left and dragged his shot across the face of the goal.

Michael Doyle came on for Guilly Beuzelin, but it like the other two changes, today it was changing players rather than bringing on players to change the game.

Robbie Simpson did put over one excellent cross in the 83rd minute but Mifsud at the far post, could not get the angle he wanted on his header and the ball went out for a goal kick and in stoppage time, the former Student curled over as Crystal Palace made sure of their fourth consecutive victory at the Ricoh Arena.