Two goals in the second half ultimately condemned today’s opposition to relegation from the Premier League, whilst Palace move eight points clear of danger with seven matches left to play.
Hodgson spoke of his disappointment in his side’s first half performance, saying: “It was hard to recognise the team in the first half – we weren’t sharp enough, we weren’t quick enough to the ball, we made passing errors, which is not something I’ve seen a lot of during my time here. Our passing is normally very good. We were playing against a team who actually did pass the ball well, and had good shape as well.
“I didn’t think we were anything like what we needed to be to win the game. I thought there were lots of gaps in our game, a lot of unforced errors in our game that you can’t afford to make in a game of such importance that you need to win. You can’t have that luxury of making those mistakes or not reaching that level of aggression or sharpness that’s needed.”
At the risk of quoting the oldest football cliché in the book, it truly was a game of two halves. Indeed, Hodgson made two significant changes, the introduction of James McArthur for Max Meyer, and a more advanced role for Wilfried Zaha.
The manager commented: “At half time, things were looking bleak. So I must give our team an awful lot of credit for the way they came out in the second half. We made a couple of slight adjustments, and in the second half we were much more like ourselves.
“I was very pleased that the players determination shone through. We pulled ourselves together. I thought pushing Wilf up front, and bringing McArthur in made a difference to our play.
“We created some really, really good goal chances. At one stage, I was worried it was going to be one of those games, when I’d be sitting here and you would be telling me about the incredible misses you thought we’d been guilty of, and it would have cost us points!
“Luckily, I can laugh the misses off, as we got two goals to win the game. I’m hoping that if we create have as many chances against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, we won’t miss them.”
Pressed again on his side spurning of multiple chances, Hodgson joked: “You sound like my wife – why don’t you get them to shoot?! I’ve done the odd shooting practice in my last 44 years. But I can’t kick it in the back of the net for them, I never could either!”
Hodgson’s men move onto 36 points, meaning safety is within touching distance, and the 71 year old was clearly relieved at the prospect, as the month of March which has had it's fair share of joy and frustration, comes to a close: “It’s given us those three points we were desperate to get today, after we missed out on the chance to get to closer to safety against Brighton.”
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