Palace boss left frustrated by FA Cup exit, but admits league is always the priority
Roy Hodgson couldn’t hide his frustration at seeing his side suffer a knock-out blow in the FA Cup third round against Derby County.
The Eagles, who were poor throughout the Selhurst Park clash, were undone by a single goal by the well-drilled Rams, a 32nd minute effort on the counter attack by Chris Martin sufficient to separate the teams.
Captain Luka Milivojevic was sent off in the second half for violent conduct via VAR after a clash with Tom Huddlestone, with the game drifting away from the hosts. The incident only added to Hodgson’s gloom.
Palace – who made a number of changes to their usual starting side – paid the price for a lack of direction and cohesion. It was a half hearted performance, and the occasion overall distinctly lacked the verve and audibility which has come to be associated with this corner of south London.
The hosts were expected to progress to the fourth round against Phillip Cocu’s outfit, currently languishing 17th the Championship. However, the Rams were boosted by the presence of Wayne Rooney in what was only the former England stars’ second appearance.
Hodgson lamented: “We got closer to them, especially in the second half and had more possession, but losing a man makes it difficult to breach them and at least our pressure hinted at an equaliser.
On Milivojevic’s red card he said: “It was a harsh decision in the latter of the law but Tom Huddlestone didn’t make more of it. But the referee’s decision is the one that counts.”
Overall, the Eagles chief freely admitted the club’s ongoing injury crisis is a huge concern, with another casualty, Max Meyer, hobbling off.
“It’s very difficult to even field a team and it’s an understatement to say we have injury problems,” added Hodgson, who wouldn’t, in addition, be drawn on January transfer targets.
“But our aim is to stay in the Premier League and not to win the FA Cup. I’ve never known a situation with so many long term injuries such as (Mamadou) Sakho for example and now Meyer.”
Cocu, meanwhile, was unsurprisingly delighted with the outcome – and with the role of Rooney, who has featured in two successive victories for Derby.
He said: “I’m pleased in the way we played the game today. We came here to try and get a result, it was important to be brave and have courage to play from the back. We did very well.
“I think he (Rooney) was very good in a position in midfield alongside Tom Huddlestone. It was a great combination and his ability to pass beyond the defence was there. The other players know that he will always deliver the pass. The influence of Wayne is important. It was a pleasure to him enjoy the game.”