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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
08:45 15th September 2010

Crystal Palace 4-1 Portsmouth

James Vaughan marked an incredible home debut by hitting his first professional hat- trick, and sending Crystal Palace well on their way to their first league win, since the opening day of the season. The club's new number nine opened his account quarter of an hour into the first period with a thunderbolt from just inside the box, and then added two more in the second period to complete his hat trick. Neil Danns then rounded off the win with a penalty of his own making for Palace's fourth ten minutes from time. Ahead of the game, George Burley had made one change from the starting XI who turned out for the game at the Madejski Stadium, with Kieron Cadogan coming in for Julian Bennett. It meant Alex Marrow took up the right back slot, Nathaniel Clyne slotted in at left full back and Cadogan started on the wide left. Minutes into the start though, the proceedings took a turn for the worse when a sudden and ferocious rain shower opened up over Selhurst Park. Driving rain and swirling winds had plenty of supporters in the opening rows scrambling back into the stands in search of cover, and instantly turned the pitch from a lush playing surface into a slippery and demanding arena. Dave Kitson tried to use the conditions to his advantage early on by aiming a low drive from 20 yards out that skidded off the surface and past Speroni's near post, while up the other end a sublime piece of skill from Kieron Cadogan almost unlocked Portsmouth's defence. Receiving the ball wide on the left he squared up his marker before cleverly nutmegging him, and then playing in a dangerous low ball that Jamie Ashdown had to be brave to gather at the feet of an onrushing Vaughan. Moments later though, Palace took the lead in emphatic style.  On 14 minutes Andy Dorman picked up the ball midway in Portsmouth's half, drove forward to the edge of the box before laying it square to Vaughan and, with his back to goal, he let the ball run across him before turning and firing the ball into the top corner. In response Portsmouth wasted two decent opportunities in as many minutes. The first fell to Kitson, who was able to turn McCarthy, receive the long ball and close in on goal, but on the edge of the box he rushed his shot and fired horribly wide. The second was thwarted by some good defending by Nathaniel Clyne. The right back  managed to get back just in time to put Joel Ward off just as he was about to pull the trigger, after being put through into the box by a clever reverse ball by Kitson. Djilali then tested Ashdown with a snap shot from the edge of the box, while Mullins struck a decent effort that required plenty of concentration from Speroni to make the save. All of Palace's good work in the opening stages was undone ten minutes later though, thanks to a moment of absolute madness in defence. A speculative long ball over the top from Ward was allowed to bounce by Gardner, who, under no pressure whatsoever, made the decision to nod it back to Speroni. But what he hadn't seen was that the Palace keeper had come to the edge of the box to collect it, so instead of playing it safely into his hands, Gardner inadvertently lobbed him and left him stranded. The predatory Kitson gambled on the mistake and collected the free ball before tapping it into the empty net. The Eagles instantly got back on the front foot in a bid to make up for giving away such a weak equaliser, and both Vaughan and Owen Garvan tried their luck with rasping drives from distance. Vaughan saw his turn and shot fly just over the bar, while Garvan's dipping effort forced Ashdown into a fine one handed save.  Late on in the half Pompey's latest signing, Liam Lawrence saw a brilliant dipping volley just drop the wrong side of the cross bar, while Djilali then went one better by hitting the post with a sublime curling effort a minute later. On 39 minutes the young winger cut inside Ward and sweetly aimed a curling right footed effort, from just inside the box, that had Ashdown stranded as it cannoned off the far post. The visitors started the second half brightly and had the ball in the back of the net within three minutes. Nugent managed to spring the offside trap to latch onto Kitson's deft through ball, and as he fired the ball past Speroni he looked up to see the linesman's flag raised. Nugent then wasted a glorious opportunity minutes later when a cross from the right by Lawrence found him unmarked at the back post, and with Kitson in support and only needing a simple squared ball for an open effort at goal, he instead went for glory and blasted over. And they were made to pay for their wastefulness ten minutes into the second half when a pin-point ball upfield by Marrow fed Vaughan through on goal. With Ashdown sprinting off his line, Vaughan showed his pace to beat him to it, and then lift it over him for his second of the night. His hat trick was completed three minutes later when a ball up field from Garvan was nodded into his path by Danns, and again he showed fantastic awareness to simply lift it over the keeper and into the back of the net. For Pompey, it was again Nugent who was looking the main threat when he peeled off Marrow at the back post, took the ball onto his left foot and fired an effort that hit Gardner and looped over. From the resulting corner Lawrence met it with a strong header but Kanu intercepted its path and only succeeded in diverting it away from goal. Up the other end Vaughan continued to show his class when he had two superb opportunities to make it four and five for the night. His first came when he received the ball on the right side of the box and, in space, the ball seemed to skid away from him as he went to shoot, which took the sting out of the effort and Ashdown saved to his left. His second, though, was even better. Djilali, who was superb all night, played a low cross that found him at the back post, but as he skidded to meet the pacey ball he couldn't control his first time effort and it flew high into the Whitehorse Lane Stand. Vaughan then had the chance to show the other side of his game, and it almost proved just as deadly when he broke clear on 75 minutes. Instead of looking for his fourth, he looked up and played a great ball to an unmarked Neil Danns, whose effort from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by Ashdown. Portsmouth's fans desperately tried to lift their team's spirit as the game entered its final stages with their famous "Play Up Pompey" chant, and Kitson almost gave them something to cheer about when he fired just over from the edge of the box. But the momentary resistance was broken almost instantly when Neil Danns carried the ball into the box and went down under a challenge from Michael Brown. Referee Russell Hall, on as a replacement to the injured Peter Walton, pointed to the spot instantly and Danns stepped up to smash it down the middle to make it four. Three minutes from time, Portsmouth thought they had scored a consolation goal when Djilali cleared John Utaka's header right on the line.   But in the end, the night belonged to James Vaughan, who left the field with the match ball as well as a rapturous standing ovation from the crowd for a job well done. Attendance: 14, 219 (Away: 1,489) Palace Player subscribers will be able to watch the full press conference on Wednesday morning. To find out more about our Player service and how you can sign up for as little as £3.99 a month then click here.   George Burley made one change from the side that lost to Reading at the weekend, with Kieron Cadogan brought in to replace Julian Bennett. Crystal Palace: 1. Julian Speroni; 2. Nathaniel Clyne; 5. Paddy McCarthy; 8. Neil Danns (32. Pablo Counago, 88); 9. James Vaughan (12. Calvin Andrew, 80); 10. Owen Garvan; 11. Andy Dorman; 15. Kieron Cadogan; 21. Kieran Djilali; 30. Alex Marrow; 31. Anthony Gardner Subs: 4. Claude Davis; 6. Adam Barrett; 13. Lewis Price; 19. Julian Bennett; 24. Charlie Holness Portsmouth: 1. Jamie Ashdown; 3. Carl Dickinson; 7. Liam Lawrence; 8. Hayden Mullins; 10. David Nugent; 11. Michael Brown; 18. Dave Kitson; 20. Joel Ward; 25. Ibrahima Sonko; 27. Kanu (17. John Utaka, 74); 33. Ricardo Rocha Subs: 37. Darryl Flahavan; 5. Matt Ritchie; 22. Richard Hughes; 24. Nadir Ciftci  
    Data provided by Press Association