Post by Football News on Feb 11, 2017 17:15:21 GMT
Stoke 1 - 0 C Palace
Joe Allen’s cool finish adds to Crystal Palace problems as Stoke City win
Home team scorers Joe Allen 67
Crystal Palace remain a problem that Sam Allardyce cannot solve. A goal by Joe Allen gave victory to Stoke and left the former England manager with a sixth defeat from eight Premier League matches in charge of the south London club. That sorry record further endangers the manager’s one of never having been relegated from the top-flight.
Allardyce had delved deep into his managerial repertoire in search of a way of stimulating a response to last week’s mortifying 4-0 home defeat by Sunderland. He summoned the players for a 7am training session the morning after that, hired a sports psychologist and watched the Palace chairman, Steve Parish, lecture the players in the dressing room and cancel next week’s planned team excursion to Dubai. It all amounted to more of a boot up the backside than an arm around the shoulders but would any of it achieve the desired effect?
The Palace mentality would certainly have to be transformed because the team personnel was not: Allardyce made only two alterations to the lineup that began last weekend’s fiasco and one of those was enforced, as Scott Dann’s injury led to Luka Milivojevic’s first start since his January arrival from Olympiakos. Mamadou Sakho, the loanee from Liverpool, watched from the bench as the Serb patrolled just in front of the Palace defence on a mission seemed to subdue Joe Allen. Yohan Cabaye was the only Palace player dropped from last week, with Andros Townsend replacing the Frenchman.
Stoke, meanwhile, welcomed back Ramadan Sobhi, the winger freshly returned from helping Egypt to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations. He turned 20 during that tournament and was presented here with only his second Premier League start. Allardyce hoped that there would be no more presents for Stoke players after that. “We have to stop gifting games,” was the key note of the former England manager’s pre-match address to broadcasters.
That message had no doubt been stressed to Wayne Hennessey, the goalkeeper who had looked less than reliable in recent games. He suggested he had taken it on board by making a strong save in the ninth minute to turn away a 16-yard shot by Mark Arnautovic after a flick-on by Peter Crouch, who was proving a menace.
Palace bared their teeth for the first time in the 17th minute, James McArthur heading wide from a cross by Townsend. Patrick van Aanholt then brought a comfortable save from Lee Grant with a long-range shot.
Mostly, however, mediocrity prevailed in the first half. So a flourish from Sobhi on the half-hour was most welcome, although not for Joel Ward, who was left spinning like a man caught in a revolving door as the Egyptian tricked his way past him and clipped a cross to the back post. Allen proved a less than trusty assistant to the young magician, heading over from six yards. Bruno Martins Indi produced a much better header from Charlie Adam’s corner just before the break but Townsend cleared it off the line. Such stinginess from the visitors must have left Allardyce relatively pleased at half-time.
His satisfaction would have deepened in the 55th minute if Christian Benteke had been able to get off a shot after a low drive from the edge of area by Jason Puncheon ricocheted to the feet off the Belgian seven yards from goal. But the ever-vigilant Martins Indi reacted faster than Benteke and nicked the ball away for a corner.
Palace had looked marginally the more threatening side in the second half but in the 67th minute Allardyce was assailed by a familiar sense of dismay. Sobhi helped inflict the anguish. After making a smart run into the box from deep and collecting a delightful pass from Arnautovic, the winger held off a defender and teed up Allen. This time the Welshman was unerring, firing low into the net from 15 yards.
Allardyce introduced Jeffrey Schlupp for Zaha immediately. Later he made two more substitutions. None made any difference. Palace seemed beaten as soon as they fell behind.