Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? No? Well here’s a short reminder:
“Once upon a time there was a hare who, boasting how he could run faster than anyone else, was forever teasing tortoise for its slowness.
"Then one day, the irate tortoise answered back: 'Who do you think you are? There’s no denying you’re swift, but even you can be beaten!' The hare squealed with laughter.
"The tortoise and the hare went head to head in a race, with the hare so confident of victory that he slept on, and then decided to eat breakfast and nap some more while the tortoise steadily made its way towards the finish line.
"By the time the hare awoke, it was just too late to earn the victory and the tortoise had beaten the cocky, arrogant hare."
That fable was enacted on Saturday afternoon in south London, as the hare was entertained by the tortoise at Selhurst Park, otherwise known as Palace v Chelsea.
All action: Stuart O'Keefe rounds the attentions of Mohamed Salah as Palace get one over Chelsea at Selhurst Park
All the focus pre-match was on how many goals Chelsea would win by, that little old Palace would have no chance, and yet, come five o’clock the tortoise had beaten the hare.
The game started with both sides remaining somewhat in the starting blocks, the hare almost taking the lead through Schurrle, but then deciding to rest on its laurels as the tortoise came back at it, almost like a boxing match, blows being traded left, right and centre.
Chelsea were quick to start before slowing, only for Palace to take on the role of the tortoise, the unfancied one.
As Palace began to get back into the game and even dominate, Chelsea woke up and countered back to replicate the middle part of the race, in the middle part of the match.
The two teams went in level at half time but the tortoise had already given the hare a scare.
The second half very much resembled the tale of the hare and the tortoise. Palace grabbed an early goal and the hare didn’t wake up until it was too late to catch up.
Slowly but surely Palace have built a football club. Chelsea have very quickly built a brand, a team, a squad, not a football club.
In the short term, it may have success, but longer term the tortoise will always outlast and out-think the hare.
Enough with the analogy.
Palace were superb, I’ve criticised Tony Pulis in the past for the football he has played, but this was true counter-attacking football with a distinct difference to the way the side has played recently.
Rather than just shut up shop and defend for their lives, Palace actually took the game to Chelsea and probably should have won by a bigger margin.
Defensively they were solid, with Joel Ward stopping almost every dinked pass into the middle of the box from the likes of Schurrle and Oscar.
Delaney and Dann repelled plenty, with Jedinak and Ledley helping out. It was a display that showed passion and desire; but above all else it showed belief.
That belief was a resplendent sight as I’m afraid to say that my own belief was fading, but this result has the potential to rejuvenate, revitalise and invigorate Palace. One more push and safety will surely be achieved.
Teetering on the edge of safety we may be, but lest we forget, Danny Higginbotham will forever remind me that we have been here before and tragically fallen down at the final hurdle.
Bouncebackability won’t soften any relegation blow this time around.
A victory at Cardiff on Saturday will surely see the fans rejoice as Palace’s survival is nigh on secured.
A note of caution though, victory at Cardiff is far from certain and a defeat could easily bring Palace back into the quagmire of relegation.
This truly is a six-pointer. My previous sojourn to Cardiff was not a happy one, although I won’t be travelling again this weekend, I’ll be there in spirit.
Three points please boys, that’ll do the trick.