So, tonight sees us playing yet another one of those games that will prove to be a litmus test of our promotion credentials. Win it, and an away day hoodoo stretching back nearly half a year is snapped, lose, and the knock-on effect to our confidence as a squad could be catastrophic. The stakes are certainly high.
It’s all well and good feeling as though you can rely on picking up points at home when the good times are rolling, but it would only take one defeat to shatter the illusion of invincibility, leaving us scratching around for reasons to be cheerful. I’m over the moon with how we’ve played on our own turf this season, but put quite simply, it must be supplemented with a steady stream of points from our away fixtures for me to ever feel truly comfortable.
Taking tonight’s game in isolation, it does feel as though the momentum garnered from a victory could prove to be fundamental to any dreams of success in the weeks to come. It’s a mental hurdle that the squad as a whole must overcome if they are looking to provide genuine completion to the other teams at the top of the table. With automatic promotion tantalisingly in sight and yet, so far away in the eyes of many supporters, the likelihood is, that we’ll be aiming for the play-offs, which requires two performances of Herculean effort away from home if you are to emerge victorious. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of that at the moment.
We’ll face far more difficult opponents than Derby County before the season is over, but in terms of momentum and confidence, three points this evening would be huge. With the fixture taking place a few hours before our rivals play, it would put an added level of pressure on their already heavily weighted shoulders and enable us another day of stress free rehabilitation prior to or home game on Tuesday night. There has seldom been a more timely chance to steal a march on our counterparts, if we grab it, we could be set-up for a great run over the next few weeks.
It’s worth remembering, that our hosts haven’t won a game themselves since February 2nd, when they played Huddersfield Town. Since then, they’ve picked up a mere three points from five games. so it’s not as if we’re going into a game with a team in scintillating form. To contrast that, last weekend we were going up against a side who hadn’t lost since the 1st of January, picking up 12 points from the six games in the intervening period. The differences are there for all to see.
In essence, although it sounds like a cliché, if we aren’t capable of producing the goods against Nigel Clough‘s side, serious questions as to our readiness for a play-off place will have to be asked. I’ll be looking on more in trepidation than expectation this evening, but you never know, we might just pull it off. Fingers crossed.
Here’s today’s round-up.
All the news from SE25 in the last 24 hours
It seems as though there’s a lot of noise surrounding our plans to make significant upgrades to the facilities for our youth academy ahead of a re-application for Category 1 status under the EPPP plan.
Crystal Palace are upgrading their youth academy in a bid to stop Premier League teams poaching the next Wilfried Zaha.
England Under 21 winger Zaha joined Manchester United for £15million in January before being loaned back to Palace until the end of the season.
He is the latest star to emerge from Palace’s Category Two academy, whose facilities are not of sufficient standard to prevent players moving on to bigger clubs for a nominal fee.
John said: “We thought it was a thigh injury but it’s not as serious as we first though.
“We’ll see how he is and hopefully he’ll have a good chance of making it for Saturday.”
Since signing for the Pilgrims in January, Banton has been on top form, scoring three times in five Argyle outings.
Jason’s loan agreement expires after Saturday’s game with Barnet but Sheridan is keen to retain the services of the tricky winger.
“Jason wants to stay,” said John. “He’s very happy. Palace have agreed to let him stay so we need to talk.
“I’ve spoken to Jason and hopefully everything will go to plan and we’ll get him for longer.
“I haven’t actually spoken to [Crystal Palace manager] Ian [Holloway] or any of the staff at Palace but Jason spoke to them briefly yesterday so I’ll make that phone call.
Johnson said: “With Kwesi it means we have got to make a decision at the weekend. Probably Crystal Palace won’t be that happy that one of their players has come here and not played many games.
“They will understand, of course, as we have been on an eight-game winning run and certainly weren’t losing. They will understand you wouldn’t change your team because of that.
“But we gave him an opportunity and we will have to talk to him and the club to see whether they are happy to do that again if that happens. They need him playing games, it’s just whether we can give him those games.”
Teenage Herne Bay striker Tunji Agbaje could be set for a move to Championship side Crystal Palace this week.
Agbaje, who turned 19 last month, came through the youth ranks with his home town club and enjoyed a spell at Chelsea before joining Premier League Stoke City’s set-up in 2010 after being spotted scoring five goals in a game for the Blues at a youth tournament.
He earned England under-18 recognition while at the Potters, however he returned to sign for Bay in September after becoming disillusioned with academy football at the Britannia.
The Rams have seen their hopes of a play-off place slip over recent weeks having failed to win in their last five games, however it it not all good news as the Eagles aim to rectify their struggles on the road as Derby have remained unbeaten at home in their last five matches.In fact County have only suffered two defeats on their own patch during the Championship campaign and average two goals a game from their 17 encounters at Pride Park.