Roy Hodgson was delighted that his Palace team managed to close the gap on a number of their relegation rivals by beating Huddersfield Town 2-0, with the three points lifting the Eagles out of the bottom three.
Goals from James Tomkins and Luka Milivojevic saw Palace complete an efficient victory against the Terriers at a snow-swept John Smith’s Stadium, helping the team climb to 16th in the table, two points above the drop-zone, but more importantly in the manager’s eyes, leaves them breathing down the necks of a number of teams nervously looking over their shoulders, including David Wagner’s side.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Hodgson talked about a number of topics, including:
Crucial win: “The most important thing for us was to come away from Huddersfield with a result, ideally a win but certainly not a defeat, to keep our hopes of staying in the division alive. Had we not done that today then the gap to teams like Huddersfield gets greater and greater.
“We had make up eight points to get ourselves out of the relegation zone last time, and we had to win a lot of games so we know how tough it is. We were determined today to take every opportunity to win this game, and I thought the longer it went on the more composed we looked and we asked a lot of questions.”
Zaha injury: “I don’t know if it is a definite injury. He took quite a few kicks towards the end of the game when we were breaking out and getting the ball up the field on quite a few occasions. Wilf carries the ball well, and on a couple of those occasions he was stopped by a foul and the referee gave the free-kicks, but he took a couple of little knocks.
“There’s also an element of fatigue as he worked very hard as it was his first full game for seven weeks and he’s been out for a long time. I haven’t been given any indication that he’s picked up any kind of injury; we’re more concerned about Jeffrey Schlupp coming off because he’s rolled his ankle and you always worry with those that he’s damaged some ligaments but we won’t know until he’s had the scan. I’m hoping that him and Wilf will recover.”
Zaha’s importance: “He got stronger as the game went on. In the first half there were a lot of other players who were important to us, but the longer the game went on it opened out because Huddersfield needed to get back into the game. That’s where Wilf comes into his own because with his ability on the ball he can go past people.”
Team defending as a unit: “Even those players in the group that aren’t natural defenders or are particularly competent in one-v-one situations, they still get back in there to bring hay to the water and that’s important.
“Townsend did it on one side and Wilf on the other, and the midfield players worked very hard because that’s a strong area of the Huddersfield team. We had to make sure that Mooy, Hogg and Pritchard didn’t have any time on the ball because we know they have the ability to use it.”
Physical game: “The referee today gave Wilf the protection he could give by giving free-kicks and yellow cards, and we ourselves weren’t totally innocent – there were a couple of challenges that we made which were pretty robust which led to yellow cards, so I’m not going to whine about that.
“One always hopes that players like Wilf will get the fouls that they merit. Mike Dean certainly did that, and there was only one instance in the game where I really questioned a decision which was the challenge on Benteke for a penalty. From my position, that looked close to being a penalty and we hoped to get that one, but he had no hesitation in the second one when Andros was fouled.”