At just after quarter past three, Burnley fans were celebrating a 2-0 lead and what looked a likely second successive win that would have taken us to 12th place in the table. Ben Mee had scored his first ever Premier League goal, heading home a corner from fellow full back Kieran Trippier, and Danny Ings had calmly slotted home the second after some superb work from Scott Arfield, but it wasn't to be and, at the end, there could be little complaint at Palace taking the points to continue the good start they've made under new manager Alan Pardew.
Yesterday morning was turned into weather watch; it always does amongst our fans when there is any bad weather on the way. Once upon a time it was understandable; we had a poor pitch that waterlogged at the sight of a cloud, had covers that never seemed to work properly, and we've had a game called off in the past in sub zero temperatures with the under soil heating not switched on. We've even had games put in doubt when the sprinklers froze the lower tiers of the stands.
There was snow on the ground yesterday morning, and it was certainly heavier from my elevated position high above town. More snow did fall, but the reality was nowhere near as bad as the forecast and there was never any question of the game being called off.
|A first Premier League goal for Ben Mee|
The next concerns were over injuries. Jason Shackell had missed both cup games against Spurs, and Trippier had been forced off during the replay with a tight hamstring. But both were there in a line up that Sean Dyche selected for the game against QPR at Loftus Road on 6th December and hasn't changed since for a league game.
The pre-match ritual was abandoned for me again for this game. I'm still suffering from the winter illness that took hold on the day after we'd drawn at the Etihad. Somehow I got to Newcastle, but Spurs was definitely a no go in midweek, and even home games have proved to be a challenge.
Having shivered through the QPR win I thought it was time for the thermals yesterday. Whether I needed them or not I don't know, but at least I didn't feel the cold as I'd done the week before.
And I certainly wasn't feeling too cold after the start we got with Ings firing in the first effort on goal. It was heading for the corner of the net but after a block and a header back in, Scott Dann headed it out for a corner.
I'd just been recalling all those outstanding games the Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni has turned in against us over the years. It seems every time he plays against us, he pulls something special out of the hat.
Back in August he saved that late Arfield penalty but it wasn't his day yesterday when he got it all wrong as the corner came in towards the back post where an unmarked Mee gleefully headed home.
Pardew complained that the ball was no in the quadrant before the corner was taken. He was backed up by some of the pundits including Sky's appalling co-commentator Dean Sturridge. They all want to go and check the rules on corners; the ball does not need to touch but just hang over the white line.
The Palace manager was complaining again four minutes later but it was his own player Joel Ward he should have been complaining to.
A clearance from Trippier should have been easy for Ward to deal with, but he decided to let it go out for a throw with Arfield running yards and yards to try and keep it in.
He kept it in, and yes, he did push Ward away over the touchline, but wasn't Ward trying to block him? The officials got this one right and Arfield played the ball inside for Ings who took it in his stride to place the ball past Speroni.
He's in good form right now in front of goal. That's his third in the last three league games, having also scored against Newcastle and QPR, and is the first time Danny has scored in three consecutive league games.
2-0 up at home and only 16 minutes gone; another goal and surely it was all over with, but that's as good as it got for us against a Palace team who really did come back well to turn the game in their favour.
They had to take the game to us. They switched things round, and just before the half hour they got themselves back into the game. A cross from the right was fired at goal by new loan signing Yaya Sanogo. Tom Heaton did really well to block it with his leg but the ball rebounded to Gayle and Heaton had no chance as he fired home.
We cleared another effort off the line and Heaton saved well from former Burnley target James McArthur and by half time I think we had to be relieved to get into the dressing room with a lead.
But that lead didn't last too long into the second half and it was a poor, poor goal to concede. No one closed down Jason Puncheon and he was allowed to fire home into the corner from 25-yards out. We should have made it more difficult for him to get in a shot and I would think Heaton will be disappointed not to have been able to deal with it.
The goal rocked us and for a while I suspected Palace would go on to win this game. But eventually we started to come back into it and, as is so often the case, as the game wore on we got even stronger.
Sam Vokes came on for Ashley Barnes. The former Brighton striker has been outstanding recently but this wasn't his day although the change didn't make much of a difference.
With the snow, hail and sleet driving in, it was more frantic than cultured but I sensed there might be a winner coming.
The closest we came was from Michael Keane. He's had some poor luck recently in front of goal. Last week Rob Green pulled out a top save to deny him and now he saw his volley blocked on the line.
|Danny Ings has scored in each of the last three league games|
We had a scare of our own when Glenn Murray, on as a substitute, hit the post, but, overall, given the performances of the two teams, I was quite happy to settle for a point.
Then, in the 87th minute, disaster struck. A ball came in from the right. Murray cleverly blocked Trippier to allow the ball to go through to Gayle to the left of goal and he made no mistake with a low shot into the far corner.
We threw on a couple more subs and pushed for an equaliser but we didn't threaten one and when Phil Dowd blew his final whistle we really couldn't have too many complaints.
Dowd's 90 minutes was untypical of him. He's often arrogantly waving yellow cards around but in this game I thought he was very lenient with Palace in the early stages. They were breaking play up with foul after foul and more often than not he'd have taken much stronger action than he did.
This was, for me, our most disappointing home performance of the season. No matter how well Palace might have played, we shouldn't, and cannot afford to, be losing two goal leads in this league.
It's so unlike us and it's the first time we've held a two goal lead in a league game and gone onto lose since Palace did us 4-3 at Selhurst Park in October 2012.
I don't hold with this tiredness suggestion or of us being leggy, and I'm sure the manager doesn't either. I think this was, as much as anything else, us having an off day all round and allowing a decent team to come back when we really shouldn't have.
A win would have seen us sat in 12th place right now but at least Hull's defeat at West Ham this afternoon has ensured we remain out of the bottom three.
With the BBC trying to confirm a mid-season break in Scarborough for our players, obviously they didn't get the joke, our players will now have a two week break from fixtures before the next game up at the Stadium of Light. We might even have a new signing or two before we play that game.
We will always lose games in this league, home or away. I always recall Tony Pulis being asked, after our first ever Premier League game in 2009, if he had any advice for us. He said never to dwell on a defeat; just move on to the next game.
See you on Wearside for that next game and I might even be well by then.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd (Marvin Sordell 90+1), Dean Marney, David Jones (Ross Wallace 90+2), Scott Arfield, Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 73). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Duff, Michael Kightly.
Yellow Card: Jason Shackell.
Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Stephen Kelly (Adrian Marriapa 83), James McArthur, Joe Ledley, Dwight Gayle, Jason Puncheon, Yaya Sanogo (Glenn Murray 79), Wilfried Zaha (Adlene Guedioura 70). Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Brede Hangeland, Jerome Thomas, Fraizer Campbell.
Yellow Cards: Scott Dann, Yaya Sanogo, Joel Ward.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Stoke).
Attendance: 17,782 (including 1,754 from Palace).