Writer: Steve Guscott
Date:Thursday February 18 2010
17th February 2010
Simon Church struck twice to help the Royals to a convincing win at Crystal Palace which took us out of the relegation zone. Jimmy Kebe also capped a fine performance with a goal and Brian McDermott`s side recorded a fourth league win in a row.
Shane Long was suspended following his red card against West Brom, so Simon Church took his place as the loan striker whilst Ivar Ingimarsson was left out in favour of Zurab Kishinishvili. Matt Mills took the captain`s armband and he was called into action in the early stages of the game as Palace dominated the first ten minutes. Darren Ambrose tested Adam Federici, who made a great save from a long range effort whilst Neil Danns also forced the Aussie stopper into a fine save.
The Royals gained the momentum though as the half went on and a burst forward from Jem Karacan earned a free kick on the edge of the area, but Brian Howard`s kick was blocked by the wall. It wasn`t long until we took the lead though and it was all started with an excellent run from Kebe. He beat a number of players before stabbing the ball wide to Jobi McAnuff and the former Eagles player put the ball towards the far post. Church had peeled away from his marker at the back stick and his wonderful volley found the top corner to the delight of the Royals travelling support.
Church could have had a second before the break but when he was put through one on one with keeper Julian Speroni his first touch was far too heavy and he was beaten to the ball.
Ambrose tested Federici early in the second period with another long range drive but it wasn`t long before we had extended our lead and it was from a wonderful move. McAnuff and Ryan Bertrand were involved before Brynjar Gunnarsson crossed the ball into the middle, where a Palace defender could only clear towards Kebe. The Mali winger finished well from 12 yards out and celebrated his second goal in two games.
It looked as though we would cruise to victory but just five minutes later Federici was blocked off from a Palace corner and Sean Scanell headed home at the far post, with the ref ignoring the foul on the Royals keeper.
Danny Butterfield went within inches of grabbing the equaliser with a long range effort but at the other end the Royals were always a threat and Church was denied by the post, before McAnuff volleyed just over.
As we approached the final ten minutes the points were made safe, McAnuff`s free kick was picked up by Mills in the area. The defender`s silky skills in the box set up Church, who calmly slotted home from close range.
The returning Gylfi Sigurdsson came off the bench after an injury lay off and he almost grabbed another whilst Kebe also tested Speroni once more in stoppage time. There were to be no further goals but that didn`t matter, this was a fantastic performance and a well deserved three points. The win takes us out of the relegation zone and into the dizzy heights of 18th position!
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Date:Thursday February 18 2010
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