MATCH REPORT: Crystal Palace 5 Ipswich Town 0
Crystal Palace v Ipswich: Town gave away three penalties in a crazy 11 minute second half spell – two scored and one saved – before eventually losing 5-0 at rampant Crystal Palace.
As the Eagles soared to the top of the league, under new manager Ian Holloway, the Blues remain very much rooted to the bottom of the Championship after another dismal night in this ever-worrying season.
Yannick Bolasie pounced on some statuesque defending from Luke Chambers before the action really heated up in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Murray scored two penalties within five minutes, missed a third when Stephen Henderson saved, before sliding in for his hat-trick after a great run by Joel Ward. An injury-time goal from Andre MOritz just rubbed salt into the wounds.
After the excitement generated by the 1-0 win at Birmingham City on Saturday, McCarthy’s assertion that there would still be dark times ahead proved spot on, making this weekend’s home clash with Burnley a crucial must-win.
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The new Blues boss opted for just one change following Saturday’s 1-0 win over Birmingham City – Andy Drury replacing Guirane N’Daw, who came off at St Andrew’s in the final minutes suffering from cramp in both legs.
Palace went agonisingly close to taking the lead in the opening minute.
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Bolasie raced down the left and after looking like he had overrun it, he dispossessed the back-tracking Lee Martin for Murray to swivel and shoot just wide.
Boosted by their 11-match unbeaten run, and the sight of Holloway striding towards the dug-out, the home fans needed little lift.
But as the first quarter wore on, Ipswich were matching them, sharp and sensible in possession with the only thing lacking being the final ball.
Then, out of nothing, Palace took a slightly undeserved lead in the 24th minute.
Garvan’s flick header saw Murray offside, but the striker left the ball. Luke Chambers was aware of Murray but unaware of Bolasie who got to the ball ahead of the centre-back and lobbed Henderson from the edge of the area.
It was another individual error, the kind that had blighted Paul Jewell’s 21 months at Portman Road, and it set the tone for the night.
In the 33rd minute, Palace thought they had doubled their advantage when Murray rolled the ball past Henderson but was adjudged to have been offside – just.
Two minutes later, Ipswich finally mustered a shot on target when DJ Campbell found the body of Julian Speroni from distance before the keeper was alert to turn over a deflection from his own left-back, Jonathan Parr.
The game continued to be cagey with Richie Wellens firing wide from 20 yards.
The Blues were feeding on half-chances while Palace, far from their best in the first-half, were creating golden ones in the opening 45 minutes.
The silky skills of Wilfried Zaha, a man rated by the Palace board at �20million in an attempt to warn off potential suitors, bamboozled Carlos Edwards but his toe poke at the near post was turned round by Henderson.
The second goal was always going to be crucial and both Peter Ramage and Carlos Edwards got in vital blocks before Palace doubled their advantage in contentious circumstances.
Zaha broke away from Edwards on the left-wing and raced into the area. He appeared to be going down before Chambers came in to make the tackle.
Zaha went over, the referee pointed to the spot and Murray slotted the ball home from 12 yards with Town players incensed about the decision.
While Ipswich were perhaps right to vent their anger at that one, they could have little complaints just five minutes later when a second penalty was given.
Garvan went down after Cresswell appeared to push him in the area and while referee Darren Sheldrake initially waved away the protests, his assistant referee put his flag up.
Up stepped Murray to put the ball in the same corner, to Henderson’s left, and just below the diving Blues stopper.
To their credit, Town looked to respond straight away and Andy Drury touched Martin’s corner on to Danny Higginbotham who brought a fine response from the diving Speroni.
Then in the 61st minute, Palace were incredibly awarded a third penalty – all in the space of 11 minutes.
Henderson did well to block the advancing Murray but Garvan rushed in and was upended by the luckless Chambers.
Murray stepped up for his hat-trick, once again going to the keeper’s left, but Henderson saved his poor effort.
It didn’t matter though as just 120 seconds later, Joel Ward, a man who Paul Jewell coveted in the summer, burst clear past Edwards, Daryl Murphy and Wellens to drill a low ball across the goal for the sliding Murray to score again.
Palace were understandably flying and though McCarthy brought on Jay Emmanuel-Thomas upfront and pushed Aaron Cresswell into left-midfield, with Tommy Smith at left-back, it still remained a question of how many.
It was left to sub Moritz to break clear in the final minute, swap passes with Parr, and tap the ball into the empty net.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Ramage, Delaney, Parr; Dikgacoi, Jedinak (c); Bolaise, Garvan, Zaha; Murray. Subs – Price, Blake, Easter, Moxey, O’Keefe, Appiah, Moritz
Ipswich: Henderson, Edwards, Chambers, Higginbotham, Cresswell, Martin, Reo-Coker, Drury, Wellens, Murphy, Campbell. Subs – Loach, Smith, Mohsni, N’Daw, Emmanuel-Thomas, Scotland, Chopra.