Eagles captain confident Palace can put brakes on poor run

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CRYSTAL Palace skipper Joel Ward believes his side have more than enough quality to end their poor recent run of form.

The latest setback came in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Luton Town, a disappointing result compounded by a double injury blow to Cheick Dacoure and Eberechi Eze.

VAR chalked off an Odsonne Edouard goal for handball before Teden Mengi fired Luton ahead on 72 minutes.

Their lead lasted barely two minutes as Michael Olise produced a stunning strike from inside the area after picking up possession just inside the Luton half.

Luton were back in front in the 81st minute when some slack marking allowed Jacob Brown to tap in Chiedoze Ogbene’s delivery.

The earlier injuries produced a substantial period of added time and it was in the 12th and final minute of this that Jefferson Lerma’s header hit the bar.

That means Palace have only one win from the past six games, an unwanted spell which includes four defeats.

But Ward has no doubts form is only temporary and such dips are occasionally to be expected.

He told cpfc.co.uk: “I think in the Premier League, you always come up against this sort of run.

“I don’t think anyone, other than the top, top teams, maybe City and those guys, don’t go through a period where your backs are against the rope, things aren’t going necessarily your way and results aren’t coming your way.

“But we know the quality that we possess within the changing room, and the togetherness, and we’ll be making sure that we try and put that right on the training pitch going into the next games.”

Ward also accepted he and his fellow defenders’ collective failure to deal with Luton’s two goals ensured Olise’s spectacular leveller ultimately counted for nothing.

He added: “As players, we know when you can properly eliminate chances, you do better obviously.

“That was the case with the goals today.

“Michael is a huge player for us, you can see that even today and in previous games. He’s an exceptional talent.

“I think we got ourselves back into the game through a wonder strike from Michael.

“Obviously, then that put us in a good position to go on.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t hold onto that. We created chances towards the end, but it was a little bit too late.”

This season has been overshadowed by ongoing injuries to key players, with Eze having only just returned to the first team following a spell on the sidelines.

Manager Roy Hodgson now waits an anxious wait to see how long he and Doucoure will be out for, although he questioned why no action was taken against Gabe Osho for his challenge on Eze.

He said: “They’re two of our more important players, of course, and it’s a devastating piece of news for us in a way because Cheick’s injury is very serious.

“We don’t know quite how serious Eze’s is at this moment in time, but we were particularly frustrated because it was so unnecessary.

“Basically, what seemed to me, and maybe a lot of people watching the game, to be such an obvious free-kick, and then the player to land on him and restrain him like he did.

“For that just to be waved aside, not only did we not get the free-kick in a dangerous position, we also lost one of our most important players.

“That makes it an exceptionally bitter day for me.”


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