Hodgson staying positive despite Palace stalemate against spirited Seagulls
Julian Taylor at Selhurst Park
Roy Hodgson struck a realistic note of faith after watching Crystal Palace settle for a 1-1 draw against Brighton at Selhurst Park.
The Palace chief was hoping his men could hold on to their lead, acquired in the 18th minute when Wilfried Zaha netted from the penalty spot.
However, Brighton substitute Alexis MacAllister was on hand in the last minute of normal time to fire home a terrific equaliser to earn the hard-working Seagulls a point they fully deserved.
This was an often tetchy contest - Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk was dismissed at the climax - that disintegrated in overall quality during the second half. Yet considering the Eagles’ continued paucity of threat in front of goal, the outcome was not entirely surprising.
"It was certainly keenly contested; both teams fought hard,” said the Crystal Palace manager. “We came so close to taking the prize, but we were robbed of it right at the very end. But we weren’t robbed of the result because, in the second-half in particular, Brighton asked a lot of questions about our defence. I’m very proud of our defence because they answered those questions until last three or four minutes.
"It was a really hard working defensive display," he added. "I think maybe in the second-half towards the end we were slightly guilty of protecting that lead, not looking to go forward and increase the lead, especially after [Michy] Batshuayi’s disallowed goal.
"Unfortunately these things happen - it was quite a large deflection that took the ball past [Vicente] Guaita to hand them the equalising goal, which, to be fair, they’re probably saying they deserved.”
And, accentuating the positive for Palace – who are 13th in the Premier League with seven points from five games - Hodgson reserved praise for veteran Gary Cahill, returning to action for the first time this season.
"First of all he’s a very, very good defender," he added. "His position is very good, he’s exceptionally good in the air, he’s a strong challenger for the ball and a very good blocker of the ball. These are the defensive qualities we don’t talk about every day... They’re the qualities that get you the clean sheets.
"He’s also brought us leadership qualities, he’s been very good leadership-wise. He’s the best type of leader; he’s the quiet leader people don't see from Row Z in the stand. He’s the leader we see in training week to week.
"We’re very fortunate, we have two very good leaders in that respect: club captain Luka Milivojevic and Gary Cahill, who I guess is a vice captain. And also Scott Dann."