Scannell’s strike helps prolong the madness

GOLDIE swoops in with the latest news ahead of Saturday’s relegation showdown at Selhurst Park

Vital strike: Palace players celebrate the goal at Leicester by Sean Scannell

They say in life there is a thin line between genius and insanity.

In football, a manager can be as mad as a ball bag of frogs, but by 5pm each Saturday, the only thing that matters is whether they have the genius to deliver results. It’s about where you are in the league table that counts. Going in to the match away at Leicester this week, Palace were fourth from bottom and five points clear of third bottom Scunthorpe.

But the Eagles rarely collect any points when away from the home nest, and with Scunthorpe our visitors on Saturday, it made the game a fiendishly difficult situation even for the most experienced of managers, let alone young Dougie Freedman.

When the team was announced, those that made the midweek journey to the Midlands responded angrily that their travel efforts deserved better. “He’s treated it like a cup game, he’s rested our best players.”

A minority of others, myself included, applauded Dougie for having the bravery to leave out individuals who many feel are undroppable. Hungry players with something to prove come into the frame: Counago perhaps playing for his future, Garvan itching to prove the doubters wrong and Scannell, the academy lad everyone wants to be successful, but desperately needs to grab a goal.

Strongest XI or not, we were trying to compete with a side that boasts the likes of Yakubu, King, Kamara and Wellens; with Vassell, Howard and Dyer on the bench. It was going to need big hearts, strong minds and a light dusting of good fortune to see us travel back with a priceless point, let alone all three.

Half an hour had elapsed when Scannell’s long range effort embarrassed Chris Weale and suddenly we had something very substantial to defend. Despite making it to halftime a goal to the good, the second half saw Matt Oakley (a recent Palace transfer target if you believe the rumours in the red tops) score a well-executed volley.

Despite a 96th minute red card for young forward Zaha, another player recalled by Freedman for the fixture, we managed to hold on for our seventh away point of the season and establish a six-point gap over the drop zone.

I make that a victory for Freedman’s judgment, but it does bring with it its obvious problems, and he has very little time before the Scunthorpe six-pointer to make up his mind once again.

Ambrose, Vaughan and Iversen have all been starters recently. All are popular among the fans. But whether these guys start on Saturday depends on the true reasons they were left out against Leicester. Did Freedman believe we would lose and therefore rested them for this weekend? Or did he feel they simply did not deserve a start?

One thing is for certain, Dougie has a decision on his hands, as the boys he picked against Leicester collectively did the club proud.

Given the magnitude of the game, Scunthorpe will have to come to win, and considering they are in the bottom three, they have an impressive habit of getting out of the blocks like Usain Bolt. We need to play this game conservatively, nullifying Scunthorpe before taking the game to them later on.

The game is a must win for our visitors. For us, I’d say it is a must not lose.

We could find ourselves nine points clear with 12 to play for by 5pm Saturday. I think we all agree, whoever Freedman picks, whoever our favourite players are and however well we play, we all hope our phenomenal home form is not ended this weekend.

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