The magic of the FA Cup returned to Palace with a trip to the holders Wigan Athletic. But did you know Dave Whelan broke his leg in a cup final? Thought not ….
Quite an odd scenario in truth. It’s rarely the case that a Premier League team will visit a lower league team that are the holders looking to retain the trophy.
Manager Tony Pulis had already said that there is no reason not to take the FA Cup seriously. And he is right, confidence is infectious so there was no doubting that Palace would head to the DW Stadium looking for a result that would secure a spot in the fifth round.
The line up for Palace did not feature Jedinak, Gabbidon, Ward or Bolasie. But the big news was the return to the side of Paddy McCarthy, who in the absence of Jedinak, took the armband.
Speroni, Mariappa, McCarthy, Delaney, Parr (Moxey), Puncheon, O’Keefe, Guedioura, Bannan, Chamakh (Wilbraham), Jerome (Gayle)
The first half started with little real action. The first chance fell to the home side through McMananaman followed with some great football from Palace with an effort from Jerome finishing the move that Al-Habsi was equal too.
To continue the record of former players scoring against Palace, it was Ben Watson that put Wigan ahead. Obviously. A good move out on the left, which arguably should have been defended better, saw a good cross into the area being met by Watson. Soon after the goal Palace responded well with an effort from O’Keefe which was saved. The game was beginning to open up.
The first of two big decisions was to come next. An aerial challenge by Parr was greeted with an elbow from Wigan midfielder McManaman which pole axed the Norwegian to the extent of having eight minutes of treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off. Thankfully, it has since been reported that Parr has been released from hospital. You can watch the challenge time after time but it is a straight red card. The Wigan player led with his elbow and was dangerous play. They even had the audacity to complain about the foul being given against them. There was not even a yellow card.
No changes at the half for either side, Palace already using one substitution with Moxey coming on in place of the injured Parr just before the break.
The visitors started well and the game livened up enough for Palace to get themselves back into the game. Following a double substitution that saw the introduction of Gayle and Wilbraham, it was pretty immediate. From a corner it was Wilbraham that finished off an untidy piece of play in the area but a goal is a goal. The much maligned striker showing his critics that he has the ability in front of goal.
The sucker punch followed. A good run from midfielder McLean finished off by an effort that fizzed off the surface past Speroni and into the net. Perhaps against the run of play but Al-Habsi was in fine form, turning everything away other than for the equaliser.
The pattern continued until the second big decision of the game. Gayle running and Boyce and into the area was clearly pulled back but nothing given by referee Mike Dean. It wasn’t the first time in the game that a decision had gone against us but it was defining.
From a statistics perspective Palace just edged posession in this one with 51%. But it was Wigan that led the way in shots on goal with 17 with 6 on target. Palace had 11 with 8 on target. The corner count was 7-5 in Wigans favour but Palace led the foul count 17-16. Both teams had two bookings each, Jerome and Chamakh for Palace.
Far from sour grapes but two big decisions went against us in this one. There are not many times you will have or will ever hear the line ‘Shock result at the DW as the holders knock Palace out of the Cup‘. However, with four Premier League relegation candidates into the next round of the FA Cup, maybe this will work in our favour. A win at home to Hull on Tuesday evening will erase the memory of this loss. The fact is, this historic cup competition is not what it once was. Clubs want to maintain their league status which is the bread and butter. The demise of the competition continues but it’s fair to say we gave it more respect that other teams.
We wish Wigan Athletic all the best in the next round and their defence of the trophy.