Just when the vibes has started to appear good so the footballing Gods decide to smack Norwich back down with a triple whammy. An injury to our star player, a stone-wall penalty denied and the concession of a killer goal with 20 minutes to go.
Before that Norwich were holding the aces. A draw away to Palace would be considered a decent enough result. A point and the hope that Newcastle and Sunderland would lose again was enough to give us a modicum more confidence but despite Southampton doing their bit we fell foul to those football deities. Or maybe just some more God-awful refereeing…Michael Oliver will take a huge chunk of the blame if Norwich do end up playing Championship football next season.
The claims of a penalty when Matt Jarvis was rugby tackled in the area by Damien Delaney was clear for absolutely everyone on the pitch, in the stands and for everyone watching…including those who had paid to watch the beam back at Carrow Road.
A point would have also been enough to see Aston Villa relegated. Norwich fans still bearing a grudge from the way Paul Lambert left to join the Villians were hoping their inevitable demise would be confirmed today but mathematically they can still catch us. They need to score 20 odd goals more than us in the process but mathematically…
Anyway – to the game.
Both teams were clearly playing not to lose. Palace, three points clear would have been happy with a point and although NCFC were probably keener on the idea of collecting three points and dragging their opponents into the mire as previously stated they were always likely to have taken a point at the start of the day.
It meant that for 45 minutes the two teams managed only a couple of shots and even less on target.
However, it could be argued that the outcome of the game was decided on 37 minutes when Klose came off worse from a challenge with Dwight Gayle and was stretched off. Klose has proved to be the difference in the Canaries recent resurgence and there must have been a palpable sense of dread as he was carried off to be replaced by Bassong.
Prior to that the few chances that had come our way had been squandered by our profligacy in front of goal. Brady hitting a speculative drive after 15 minutes and Naismith with a blocked chance just before Klose’s injury.
After the restart Palace showed more intent as Norwich started to play deeper and hoping that Palace’s dismal run of 14 games without a win would be enough of a demotivater to keep them at bay. It was a mistake. A big one. Losing runs ALWAYS come to an end. It was bloody obvious it was going to be against us and sure enough Palace kept prodding and poking until Jason Puncheon found space on the edge of the box and drilled in the only goal of the game.
Palace 1:0 Norwich
Puncheon literally cried with joy as the realisation that a win would put Palace six points clear of us.
The introduction of Patrick Bamford just before the goal was clearly designed to rile the home crowd and had he scored it might have started a mini riot – but just like his time at the London club he has proved ineffectual since his arrival. A Brady shot blocked fell to Bamford and with an almost empty goal he tried to chip his shot and totally scuffed it leaving the Palace fans goading him.
Further chances fell to the home side and only some smart work from Ruddy kept the score down and Palace ended their terrible run and pushed us deeper into the mire.
Our next home game against Sunderland now takes on monumental proportions. A win and we can all take those vibes and dance a merry dance. A defeat and we know we’re in the crapper again – facing the very daunting task of trying to pick up crucial points against Man U, Everton and Arsenal. A draw would hardly stem the tide of jitters around Norfolk.