Referee changed the course of the game
This is going to sound bitter, but it is the truth.
The first goal was a turning point in the game, we were in control and cruising at the time. I’ll come onto the header from van Aanholt later, but you cannot fail to miss the blatant late challenge on James Tomkins directly before the ball fell to Patrick. Tomkins goes up for the header, before being elbowed in the back of the head by Milan Djuric, who was nowhere near the ball. Forget just a foul, that was a bookable offence.
It was the same story all night. Challenges Crystal Palace were being pulled up on were waved away when those in a red shirt committed them and it just added to the frustration of the players and the fans. There was clearly a propensity to concede underneath the decent start to the game, but Taylor’s goal opened up old wounds and robbed us of the confidence gained from a decent start to the game.
Half of the problem for that very goal lays squarely with the referee. Everything after that, was unequivocally our own doing, however.
Read more: Another set-piece goal robs Eagles
Crystal Palace once again our own worst enemy
I can, and will, point at the referee as being instrumental in a turning point in the game but that cannot detract from the ultimate cause of last night’s result: the Crystal Palace players. The team was much changed but displayed the same worrying traits the first team has embodied too many times this season, mental fragility being one example.
This was a fantastic result for Bristol City and they deserved to win, but they really weren’t very good in the grand scheme of things. For the majority of the game they didn’t outplay Palace by any stretch, but what they did do was execute their game plan and pressure a fragile Palace side – they deserve credit for that. That being said, it should not have been enough to dole out the thrashing they administered, even if it had won them the game.
The first 30 minutes of the game went the way they ought to have, we dominated the play and had chances to go ahead before we actually did. Then Patrick van Aanholt reminded us, as if we needed reminding, why Sunderland fans were so pleased to see the back of him with a mind-boggling backwards header. Our problems were compounded before the end of the first half when we failed to clear a long throw into the box. Should we be surprised anymore?
As for the third and fourth, well they were eminently preventable too. Both Joe Bryan and Callum O’Dowda’s goal were very well struck but Wayne Hennessey should have got to the third and a botched clearance landed the ball at the feet of O’Dowda for the fourth. City fans were rightfully joyous, they were both great finishes but I found myself doing nothing but shaking my head in amazement throughout the second half. We could barely string three or four passes together after we went 3-1 down. Embarrassing.
Wayne Hennessey is finished
I didn’t jump on the bandwagon when Hennessey was having a series of difficult spells last season. A 38-year-old Julian Speroni, however much we all adore him, could surely not be the answer to our goalkeeping woes.
How wrong I was.
Last night was the nail in the coffin for me. An injury to Hennessey on the international break gave Speroni his chance, which he duly took against Chelsea and Newcastle. Wayne got his chance last night to react to being ousted from the side and failed to claim even that. Is Jules the long-term solution? Of course not. However, does he inspire more confidence, both for the players and the fans? Undoubtedly.
One big problem is that Hennessey just doesn’t command his area, an ironic cheer from the Crystal Palace fans when he claimed a high ball in the second half tells you all you need to know on that front. He should have stopped Joe Bryan’s third goal too, he’s 6ft plus but couldn’t reach a shot struck from the edge of the box. These issues are far from new but now, finally, the manager has seen fit to look elsewhere and that could be the end for Hennessey if we can find an alternative in January.