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Crystal Palace: The highs and lows of 2012

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JANUARY

Despite reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup, Palace opened 2012 with two defeats - to Leicester City and Derby County. However, they defeated Cardiff City in the first leg of the semi-final 1-0, before suffering a reverse scoreline in Wales. Having seen captain Paddy McCarthy red-carded, the tie went to penalties and the Eagles crashed out, losing 3-1. And spot-kicks were the order of the day at the end of the month when they drew 1-1 with arch-rivals Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park, thanks to Chris Martin and Ashley Barnes.

FEBRUARY

The game against the Seagulls kicked off a ten-match unbeaten run for the side. Having drawn three times, with Middlesbrough, Bristol City and West Ham United, Palace thrashed Watford 4-0 in between thanks to a Chris Martin double, Wilfried Zaha and Kagisho Dikgacoi. In the game against Bristol City, they found themselves 2-0 up after 69 minutes thanks to Zaha and Darren Ambrose, but victory was snatched away after two late goals from Brett Pitman.

MARCH

The unbeaten run continued until the end of the month when Derby secured a 3-2 win. Beforehand, Palace kicked off the month with a 1-0 win over Peterborough United thanks to Mile Jedinak, with 1-1 draws at Coventry City and Burnley following. Darren Ambrose scored from the penalty spot in those matches, while Wilfried Zaha was sent off at Turf Moor. They picked up another five points before a heavy 3-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest.

APRIL

Palace failed to record a win in their last six matches of the season. Two defeats in quick succession against Birmingham City and Southampton kicked the month off before a 1-1 draw at home to Ipswich Town. Defeat followed at relegation-threatened Portsmouth, before a hard-fought 2-2 draw at eventual champions Reading. However, goalkeeper Julian Speroni, who suffered a fractured finger at the Madejski Stadium, was ruled out for at least two months. And on the last day of the season, Wilfried Zaha got Palace off to a great start against Cardiff City, but they went on to lose 2-1 and finish the campaign in 17th position on 56 points.

MAY

First-team coach Tony Popovic left Selhurst Park to return home to Australia, while right-back Nathaniel Clyne looked set for a move to the Premier League. However, Joel Ward was recruited from relegated Portsmouth as the Eagles' first summer signing.

JUNE

Clyne continued to be linked with top flight clubs, while striker Aaron Wilbraham arrived on a free transfer from Norwich City and defender Aaron Martin joined on a season-long loan from Southampton. Wilfried Zaha was named in Team GB's provisional squad for the Olympic Games, but fellow academy product Sean Scannell left Selhurst for Huddersfield Town.

JULY

Clyne sealed a four-year deal at Premier League new boys Southampton, with his transfer forced to go to a tribunal after the clubs failed to agree a financial package. Darren Ambrose left for Birmingham City but defender Peter Ramage started pre-season training with the Eagles. Wilfried Zaha missed out on a place in the final Team GB squad. Former Eagles striker Neil Shipperley tells Advertiser Sport he believes the club will find it tough to sign a 20-goal-a-season forward. Keeper Julian Speroni returned to training following the broken finger picked up at Reading and immediately targeted a top-six finish.

AUGUST

The Eagles lost 3-2 to Watford at home on the opening day of the season, but they secured a 2-1 win over Exeter City in the Capital One Cup. A 4-1 defeat at Bristol City followed, leading to the signing of Darcy Blake from Cardiff City. He made his debut away to Middlesbrough in a 2-1 defeat, while another new signing, Andre Moritz, also made his debut. A 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Preston North End followed in the Capital One Cup and Freedman's future was put in doubt. Damien Delaney was recruited on a free transfer while Blackburn striker David Goodwillie was brought in on loan.

SEPTEMBER

Palace picked up their first league victory with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday thanks to Glenn Murray's double. In a south London derby at Charlton Athletic, Kagisho Dikgacoi's volley secured back-to-back wins, followed by a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest. A stunning comeback against Cardiff City saw Palace secure a 3-2 win, having been two goals down in the first half. To end the month, the Eagles broke an all-time record of never winning away at Bolton Wanderers by doing just that and coming away with a 1-0 victory thanks to Glenn Murray's penalty. Meanwhile, experienced defender Danny Gabbidon was also brought in on a free transfer.

OCTOBER

A controversial month for the club. On the pitch, the team got off to a flyer with a 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers. A 4-3 victory over Burnley followed, but after an international break, Dougie Freedman was linked with the managerial vacancy at Bolton Wanderers. Seventy-two hours after a 2-2 draw with Millwall, Freedman became Bolton manager on the day Palace were set to face Barnsley. Advertiser Sport secured an exclusive interview with Freedman, who said the move was about job security for him and his family rather than money. Assistant boss Lennie Lawrence and Curtis Fleming took charge of the team in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley and a 2-1 win at Leicester City.

NOVEMBER

Lennie Lawrence and Curtis Fleming leave Palace for Bolton, while the Eagles unveiled Blackpool boss Ian Holloway as their new manager, before trouncing Ipswich Town 5-0 at Selhurst Park. A fantastic 2-1 win away at strugglers Peterborough follows courtesy of two late goals, while Wilfried Zaha is called up to the senior England squad for a friendly against Sweden and comes on as an 84th minute substitute. A 3-0 win over Derby County followed, however the 14-match unbeaten run came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at Leeds United.

DECEMBER

Palace thrashed Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 at Selhurst thanks to Glenn Murray's double. Ian Holloway faced former club Blackpool and had to settle for a 2-2 draw, after a last minute equaliser. Draws with Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest followed, before the 2-1 defeat at promotion rivals Cardiff City on Boxing Day.

Crystal Palace: The highs and lows of 2012


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