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Match Reports

REPORT: TOWN 0-1 CRYSTAL PALACE

15 September 2018

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Wilfried Zaha's sole first-half strike sent Crystal Palace back to London with all three points despite it being Town the side who dominated the majority of the proceedings.

The Ivorian curled a peach into the far corner to which David Wagner's men couldn't find a reply.

Elias Kachunga in for Adama Diakhaby to make a first Premier League start of 2018 was the only change made to a Town starting XI fresh from a valiant draw at Everton last time out; a side that was still without the services of Ramadan Sobhi (knee) and Jonathan Hogg, who sat out the final match of a three-game suspension period.

The afternoon's visitors were handed a pre-match boost themselves with the inclusion of the touted doubtful pair of James Tomkins - a scorer in the March's fixture where the Eagles won 2-0 - and talisman Wilfried Zaha, a key figure in spearheading Palace's offensive unit. Unlike Town, the visitors were keen to bounce back from home defeat to Southampton prior to the fortnight off from Premier League duty.

A highly-charged start brought about half-chances for both outfits. Kachunga ruled offside having rounded Wayne Hennessey the opening moment of intrigue from a Town persuasion, eventually concluding with Andros Townsend firing tamely towards goal via a Christopher Schindler deflection after the dangerous Zaha jinxed his way into a crossing position.

Town's rearguard was being allowed to have the lion's share of possession, as Roy Hodgson's men tucked in behind the ball to force an error.

Despite the defensive structure of the South Londoners, the Terriers managed to find a chink in the armour in the way of tantalising crosses into the box. Philip Billing's cultured left-footed delivery beckoned to be nodded home by Steve Mounié, but the striker - fresh from International duty with Benin - found a resilient Mamadou Sakho in the way to divert away before the desired connection could make hay.

In fairness, Sakho was as impressive as they come in the Eagles' victory six months ago; and the former Liverpool defender once again outlined his intentions to keep a confident Terriers attack quiet with useful positioning as the returning Kachunga probed from time to time in the right-hand channel.

Still on the right, this time Rajiv van La Parra. The Dutchman couldn't find Steve Mounié's run into the area from a clever Chris Löwe chip over the top; but the German would himself find Steve in a similar position just moments later which could well have seen Town in-front.

Mounié nodded the delivery agonisingly over despite beating a despairing Wayne Hennessey comfortably off the ground - arguably the best chance of the half up to that 18th minute point.

A bombardment of aerial assault from the Blue and Whites, this time it was to come from the other wing. Florent Hadergjonaj's superb control to nod Philip Billing's diagonal pass into a path for a suitable cross resulted in Mounié yet again finding his luck to be non-existent, as James Tomkins heroically headed away in the nick of time to avoid the eventuality of a header thundering into the net.

Tensions were certainly rising in HD1. A succession of fouls resulted in Town coming supremely close to an opener.

Chris Löwe's free-kick across the face caused havoc in the Palace penalty area but not one of the arriving cavalry could prod home into an empty net with Hennessey all but stranded.

Chances had come and gone, but David Wagner's men still chipped away at that Palace backline. The unlikely source of Christopher Schindler acrobatically fired Phil Billing's knock-down off target.

Although it could be said Town had been the better side throughout, it was to be the away side from the Capital who took the lead in spectacular fashion through Wilfried Zaha.

One of Palace's main goal threats - scoring in every away game so far this campaign - Zaha waltzed his way through a number of Town challenges before unleashing a stunning effort into the far corner.

Against the run of play maybe, but a failure to take one of the chances that occurred in the midst of a fiery first half would inevitably allow Hodgson's Eagles to head in at the interval narrowly ahead.

The commencing of the second half followed suit to themes of the first; Town pressed, hanging balls into the box aiming for Steve Mounié. Still, the duo of Tomkins and Sakho stood firm, despite Elias Kachunga forcing a smart save from Hennessey albeit from an offside position.

The home side really had a strong desire to level up early. Instigating from a loose Milivojevic pass out from the back, Philip Billing started and ended a move which saw the Dane hook over the bar on the slide after a kind ricochet in the aftermath of Rajiv van La Parra's hard work to beat Sakho in the air.

The supporters could sense an equaliser, the noise levels continued to rise, and their side patiently seeked that meaningful opening to unlock a Palace door which had shown to be shaky especially from set-piece situations.

A combination of the post and Wayne Hennessey thwarted two magnificent chances for that leveller to arrive.

Aaron Mooy's sensational technique to strike on the volley had the visiting Welsh goalkeeper rooted to the spot, with all that could be done was watch a thoroughly masterful strike cannon back off the inside of the post.

That wasn't the end of the mini-passage of pressure that Palace somehow managed to escape. Hennessey had to be alert to keep out Florent Hadergjonaj's corner-bound strike from the edge of the area and relieve the pressure on his side who well and truly had their backs to the wall now.

Having withstood the Terrier barrage, the Eagles proceeded to waste a chance on the break with both Jordan Ayew and goal-scorer Zaha failing to adequately connect with efforts towards Jonas Lössl's goal, the latter sailing his way into the travelling support.

Stretched would have been a perfectly accurate word to describe the action nearing the hour-mark. Both sides attacked with purpose, and Palace in-fact thought they'd doubled the advantage when James Tomkins poked home. Referee Lee Mason made sure the premature were short-lived as Jonas Lössl was impeded in the build-up.

The visitors followed up with another decent chance to make it two. Zaha broke down the left and laid in a surging James McArthur who once more blazed over.

It just wouldn't go in. Kouyate desperately cleared during a goalmouth ruckus which neither substitute Laurent Depoitre nor strike partner Mounié could bundle home a well deserved equaliser.

Hammering on that Palace door as the duration neared, that man Depoitre stormed into to head home a corner but yet again found the door bolted shut, all before fellow replacement Adama Diakhaby's blushes were spared by the linesman's flag after somehow placing wide from the six-yard area.

Philip Billing's heavily deflected effort trickling wide in injury-time just about summed up Town's luck in-front of goal as the hunt for that elusive first Premier League victory of the season continues away at Leicester City next Saturday (22 September 2018; 3pm KO).

TOWN STARTING XI (3-4-3)

Jonas Lössl; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler (c), Mathias Zanka (Laurent Depoitre, 77'); Chris Löwe, Philip Billing, Aaron Mooy, Florent Hadergjonaj; Rajiv van La Parra (Isaac Mbenza, 77'), Steve Mounié, Elias Kachunga (Adama Diakhaby, 68')

UNUSED SUBS

Ben Hamer, Tommy Smith, Alex Pritchard, Danny Williams

CRYSTAL PALACE STARTING XI (4-3-3)

Wayne Hennessey; Patrick Van Aanholt, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Cheikhou Kouyate, Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur; Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend (Jeffrey Schlupp, 90'), Jordan Ayew

UNUSED SUBS

Vicente Guaita, Martin Kelly, Joel Ward, Jairo Riedewald, Max Meyer, Alexander Sørloth

REFEREE

Lee Mason

ATTENDANCE

23, 396 (2,070 Crystal Palace)


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