Last week we beat Bristol City 3-2 in the FA Youth Cup which was important for us. It was a great experience for us to play at Selhurst, and one that was made much more enjoyable because of the result.
During the day of the game I must say I don’t think I have ever been so bored! We were all told to stay home, get our feet up and switch off from football completely. I just chilled all day by watching TV, listening to a bit of music and reading a couple of autobiographies I have on the go at the moment.
There’s no point in being nervous and thinking about your game at 12 in the afternoon, as it will just mentally drain you and tire you before you’ve even done anything. Gary Issott said you should only start thinking about your game on the way to the match and not before, so that your switched on when you need to be.
We were over the moon with the win but bitterly disappointed with our performance. We didn’t put on a show and looked nervy and over-cautious for large parts of the game, especially in the first half. We were high on confidence going in to the game after battering Fulham 4-0 in our last game and everyone was buzzing in the build up to the match.
FA Youth Cup Match: Crystal Palace v Bristol City
Once we got to Selhurst we went out and had a look at the pitch and stretched our legs. It’s the first time most of us have actually been on the pitch properly, so it was good to see how different it looks when you’re on it. I personally think it seems a lot smaller when you’re standing in the middle than it does from the stands. After being out to check the pitch, we were all just desperate to get back in the changing room, get changed and go out for the warm up.
The warm up flew past, and we were soon back in the changing room making our final adjustments and preparations. I envy Jerry enormously for getting to lead a team out at Selhurst, and hope that I can emulate him one day.
We actually started the game very well and looked very sharp on the attack. We got the first goal early on through Ibra Sekajja, after some good build up play. Once that goal went in I thought it would settle our nerves and we would dominate the rest of the game. This wasn’t to be the case though as we didn’t capitalise and we let Bristol City back into the game.
We had more chances to improve on our lead, but they soon equalised and we ended up going in at half time one goal apiece.
Gary wasn’t happy with us at half time and said we looked nervous and had stopped doing the things that have brought us success so far this season. Personally I think it was because everyone was so hyped up and excited that they didn’t stick to the tactics and at times ran around without any thought.
I don’t think it was that we had a bad attitude, or weren’t good enough I just really thought the occasion overcame some of the lads.
In the second half we started to use our brains a bit more and looked somewhat better. We still weren’t as good as we have been but we had a lot of the ball and looked most likely to score. This was to be the case again as a good strike from Wynts put us 2-1 up.
Again we should of taken advantage and improved on our lead, but Randall missed a sitter and some other lads had very good chances to get a goal.
We didn’t see out the game and let them back in again as they scored a dubious penalty. They equalised quite late on and it took great courage and effort for us to get back on the attack and try and get the winner. We reacted well and had more chances to win the game before the 90 minutes was up, but yet again none of the chances were taken and we had to settle for extra time.
Some of the boys were struggling badly with cramp and extra time was not really ideal, but we are a fit team and managed to see it through to the end. The match winner for us came via a great strike from Charlie Holness, who I thought was our best player and stood out like a sore thumb. He ran the midfield and utilised his strengths. I told him after that I thought it was the best I’ve ever seen him play and I genuinely meant it.
He wasn’t able to finish the game though after he suffered the most talked about football injury in recent times. He broke his fifth metatarsal. It’s great credit to Charlie though as he actually played on with a broken foot for about 10 minutes until it became too painful for him and he had to come off.
He had an x-ray the next day and they confirmed he had broken it, so at the moment he’s looking at six weeks out providing he doesn’t need an operation. If he does need an op he’s looking at about three months. It’s even more gutting for Charlie as he did the exact same injury in his other foot last season! He has a metal plate in his left foot, so we all have our fingers crossed that it won’t be matched up on his right foot. Charlie’s a big player for us and we hope he’s fit soon and back playing.
I replaced Charlie in central-midfield for the remainder of the game and I loved every second of it. It is a boyhood dream of mine to play at Selhurst, and to achieve it is fantastic. If nothing else comes of my football career at least I can take that away with me. I wasn’t on for long at all but I could not give a flying monkeys -I was buzzing! I didn’t think I’d even be on the bench so to actually come on was a bonus.
After the game we were all delighted to get through but upset at the performance. We have been drawn against Derby County at home in our fourth round tie, and I think we will perform a lot better. The lads are more familiar with Selhurst now and the nerves won’t be as intense. I think this will help us as we play very good football when we are relaxed and focussed on our game.
The only other news from the training ground this week is concerning Mr Joe Goldsmith… and his new Mini. Joe has only just got his car and on the Thursday after the game he drove it into the training ground for the first time. As the weather gets colder, most of us wear under armour or skins and as the first team weren’t in, Joe wore Danny Butterfield’s.
A few of the first team came in though and unfortunately for Joe, Butts was one of them. Danny caught him wearing his skins, and whilst we were out training, Butts being Butts, took Joe’s car keys and went home with them. Joe consequently had to get the bus home and wait for Dan to return his keys the next day!
Something tells me I don’t think he’ll be wearing them again anytime soon…