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Ipswich Town 3-0 Palace: Fading Eagles thumped by Tractor Boys

CRYSTAL Palace's automatic promotion hopes are pretty much over after they were thumped 3-0 by Ipswich Town this evening.

At this rate, even the Eagles' play-off hopes are in the balance with just three points separating them and seventh-placed Bolton Wanderers, who are on 63 points.

And Leicester City, who visit Selhurst Park on Saturday in what will be a huge clash, are now up into sixth on 64.

The Eagles started brightly at Portman Road when as Jonny Williams threaded a lovely blindside ball to the overlapping Jonathan Parr, but Ipswich goalkeeper Scott Loach came out to smother.

Parr then saw an effort from outside the box deflect off his own team-mate Wilfried Zaha and out for a goal kick, while Kagisho Dikgacoi, recalled to the starting line-up after injury, lashed a left foot shot over following a corner.

Ipswich's first chance came through a Frank Nouble effort wide of the goal, but it was Ian Holloway's men who continued to ask the questions with their positive play in the opening 20 minutes.

Parr was then on the end of a crunching challenge from Richard Stearman, and despite appearing to run off an ankle injury, he couldn't continue and was replaced by Jazz Richards.

Joel Ward then received a booking even though it was his first foul of the evening, but Guirane N'Daw levelled up the yellows when he clattered into Williams on the edge of the Palace box.

However, Ipswich took the lead completely against the run of play after 38 minutes courtersy of a very rare Speroni mistake.

The ball was played back to the custodian, who chested the ball up, and as he was about to clear, he hesitated and it allowed Nouble time to fire into an empty net.

Five minutes were added on before the break and it went from bad to worse as the hosts grabbed another two goals from nowhere to shock Palace.

The second was absolute screamer thanks to Aaron Cresswell, who hit an unstoppable shot from outside the box to the top corner, while another mistake in defence, this time from Peter Ramage, allowed Nouble to bear down on goal and slot past Speroni.

It was seven minutes to forget for Holloway and his side, and he brought on Kevin Phillips for Williams at the break.

Palace began the second half brightly but just like the first half, they were poor in front of goal, and they allowed Ipswich to get into a rhythm.

Moritz nearly grabbed a goal back with a curling free-kick that Scott Loach managed to turn away down at his post, before the Brazilian sent another set-piece way over the crossbar.

Holloway sent on another attacker in Aaron Wilbraham for Joel Ward, before Glenn Murray had a good shot saved by Loach from the edge of the box.

Zaha thought he had won a penalty just inside the box with the clock ticking down, but a free-kick was awarded instead, which Phillips curled over the bar.

There just didn't seem to be any fluidity or penetration in Palace's play as Ipswich just held out comfortably to thwart the likes of Wilbraham, Phillips and Murray.

Palace nearly got a late consolation in added-on time when Glenn Murray had a close range shot well saved by Loach, and as the ball fell to Phillips, the veteran striker saw an effort cannon back off the post.

It just summed up the Eagles' evening - and now they could be in danger of missing out on the play-offs completely.

Leicester City on Saturday is going to be one hell of a game. Only a win will do.

Palace: Speroni, Ward (Wilbraham 69), Parr (Richards 23), Ramage, Delaney (c), Williams (Phillips 46), Dikgacoi, Moritz, Zaha, Bolasie, Murray.

Subs Not Used: Price, Gabbidon, Marrow, Dobbie.

17,656 (1,398 Palace fans)

By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

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