We started with Elliott in goal, Murty, Hudson, Fortune and Youga. Soares was a surprise starter on the left wing and Lloyd Sam was on the right. Matthew Spring and Nicky Bailey were paired in the middle which meant a rare two upfront although it was the ineffective Gray and Burton.
Kicking towards the Covered End, we started well (as usual) and spent the first ten minutes passing the ball and probing the Palace defence in their half. Soares got the first shooting opportunity but his weakly hit shot was easily collected by Speroni after ten minutes. Several minutes later and Charlton opened the scoring in emphatic fashion. A break down the left flank had half-a-dozen players scrmabled for position in the box, all moving with their markers. The cross, from Sam I think, was deflected and ballooned up into the box and dropped around the penalty spot. All of the players continued to move with their markers which meant no-one was attacking the dropping ball except Matt Spring and he smashed it home with no hesitation.
The response from Palace was weak and they didn't fashion their first chance until twenty-odd minutes into the game and then Paul Ifill failed to connect with a driven cross. Charlton looked comfortable but nothing was sticking with Burton upfront and Gray appeared to be trying to play the withdrawn striker role. One-nil at half-time and we looked good value.
In the second half Palace began to try to up the ante but they weren't finding any easy way through. Nick Carle was second best to the impressive Bailey throughout and the Addick back-line looked solid. Jon Fortune limped off on the hour and Matty Holland was again pressed into service as emergency centre-half. At this point the message from Parky seemed to be a very definate "defend the lead," because our midfield dropped back to within 30 yards from our line and rarely come out for the remainder of the game. Murty was carrying a knock by now and he struggled through the rest of the match. Holland wins balls at centre-half in the air that he couldn't win playing in midfield. Hudson was strong but a number of his last ditch clearances were skewed to Palace players and we were fortunate they weren't able to make more of them.
The petty referree, Stuart Attwell, booked Kelly Youga for time-wasting at a throw-in and began to make an arse of himself for the last twenty minutes, managing to book Dickson minutes after coming on for complaining to the linesman about a particularly poor off-side call.Mr Atwell will go far, he's the sort of bloke who would have made a good Waffen SS officer. He will do exactly what his bosses tell him, without any regard for common-sense or the good of the game. The stuffed shirts love a man who blindly follows orders.
Palace did finally create two decent chances, both close-range headers, but Moses and the Fonte both directed them straight at Rob Elliott. Gray was screaming to be taking off after contributing nothing, but Dickson had to wait until the 74th minute to get on. Lloyd Sam later made way for Grant Basey as we counted the clock down. Rob Elliot was called on to make a good save with his feet from Moses before Chris Dickson very nearly set Burton up with a tap-in after some good work down the right flank when he was really playing for time.
That was it really and the Valley faithful had to suffer 5 minutes of extra time from somewhere but Palace didn't look like scoring having left it that late. The theme from the Great Escape greeted the final whistle and the team were rightly applauded off. Palace were sent packing again with their tails between their legs although their supporters made the most of the circumstances, with an especially loud chourus of "Sa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la, la, who's fucking laughing now?" earlier in the match. Er, us actually.
It won't be anywhere near enough to spark the kind of revival we now need to avoid the drop, but it was our first win in 19 (nineteen) league games and we have been given the one victory we wanted this year over all others. The three points moves us to 22 and we are now 8 points (9 with goal difference) behind fourth-bottom Doncaster, Watford and Norwich, none of whom lost this evening! Doncaster won at Sheffield United, Watford beat Burnley and Norwich were pegged back to 2-2 by Southampton.