By Alex Stedman – http://theendofthedayfootball.blogspot.co.uk/
Crystal Palace came away from Friday night’s South London Derby with all three points after Kagisho Dikgacoi’s volley was enough to give them their second win of the season. Charlton can feel hard done by however, after having a first half goal wrongly ruled out for offside, and coming close on numerous occasions in the second half.
The first chance of note fell to the away side. The impressive Wilfred Zaha caused problems down the right, and his cross was met by match-winner Dikgacoi, but he fired over.
The home side then responded with a well worked move of their own. Dale Stephens – returning to the side after being left out at Nottingham Forest two weeks ago, threaded a neat ball down the left to Rhoys Wiggins, whose cross found Bradley Wright-Phillips in the middle with the striker unable to turn the ball home.
In an end to end start, Ben Hamer was almost left red faced, as he fumbled a cross from Zaha. The ball fell to midfielder Owen Garvan, who couldn’t make clean contact with the ball, and towering defender Leon Cort was on-hand to clear off the line.
The familiar face of Zaha caused Charlton problems down the right again, and Wiggins was finding the tricky youngster too much to handle. The Welsh full back tangled legs with the winger, and came off worse. Lawrie Wilson took to the field to replace Wiggins, who was unable to continue. Chris Solly moved to left back,with Wilson filling in at right-back.
Then just after the half hour mark the hosts took the lead – only for the goal to be disallowed wrongly for offside. Cort met the a free kick with his usual prowess, and flicked the ball into the path of Wright-Phillips who expertly headed home past Julian Speroni. But as the front-man wheeled away in delight he was met with the linesman’s flag and the goal didn’t stand – subsequent replays showed the striker was in fact being played onside by Damien Delaney.
Both sides had further chances to take the lead before half time. Dale Stephens fizzed a powerful drive over after neat play from Danny Hollands, and there was still time for Zaha to threaten again – but his mazy run ended in him firing wide from a tight angle.
It was the visitors who took the lead shortly after the interval. Garvan delivered a corner into a dangerous area, and Delaney nodded the ball down to allow Dikgacoi to rifle a sublime volley into the top corner of the net.
It could have got even worse for the hosts soon after, as Yannick Bolasie stung the palms of Hamer, and Zaha again caused problems with his trickery, but Charlton held firm.
Ricardo Fuller then entered the fray, and will feel he should have done better after heading Wilson’s good delivery wide from a free header. More frustration was to follow for the League One champions though, as Cort met a free kick powerfully once more, but this time he headed the ball down into the path of Hollands, who could only fire wide.
The newest summer signing then went close again as the clock counted down. Wilson provided another inviting ball into the feet of Fuller, but he couldn’t direct his shot on the turn goalwards – frustration and anxiety began to grow amongst the Valley faithful as the clock reached 90 minutes.
here was still time for arguably the most dramatic moments of the match right at the death. Fuller again found himself with time and space in the Palace penalty area, and he seemed to take too long before firing straight into a a Palace defender. The ball ricocheted up into the air and as the experienced Speroni parried the ball back up in the air, it looped back down and Wright-Phillips looked destined to nod the ball home, but somehow Jedinak beat him to the ball to give Charlton one last chance from a corner.
The 20,000 plus crowd got to their feet for the final opportunity of the game. The ball was swung in from the left as Ben Hamer came up from the back. He met the ball with his head but managed to knock it down onto his shoulder in the process – allowing Garvan to clear off the line to save the visitors and seal their win.
A dramatic derby was over, and Charlton can feel hard done by. The battling qualities the side showed as they tried to find a way back into the game will have encouraged manager Chris Powell. Ultimately their efforts were in vain – for now Charlton and their supporters will have to wait until February to claim the bragging rights back off their fierce rivals.