Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman refused to blame the sweltering conditions at Selhurst Park as his team surrended a 2-1 lead in the dying stages of the match to lose 3-2 to Gianfranco Zola's Watford.

"The heat was a factor but it's the same for both teams, there's no excuse," he said.

"Both sets of players felt it. At 2-1 up we had a couple of half chances that could have killed the game but we were hanging on at the end. 


"That last ten minutes was obviously disappointing but looking back at the performance I don't think we did enough to win the game.

"I thought we probably did enough for a draw but when it went two each the momentum was with them.

"Of course it's disappointing to lose the match in the last five minutes but it was a great effort from the lads.


"We just didn't defend as a whole well enough at the end to come away with the three points.


"A couple of our players will need time to settle in but as a defensive unit we have to be better than that to win games.

"We didn't focus on our jobs as well as we should have. There are no excuses and we will move on quickly


"The challenge for us now is to bounce back very quickly."


Palace player ratings  v Watford:


Julian Speroni,  4:  Gifted Watford their initial equaliser when he spilt Sean Murray's routine shot into the path of Martin Taylor.  Should also have done better with the visitor's second, allowing Almen Abdi's long range effort to squirm in.  Not a good day at the office.


Joel Ward, 6:  Slotted in admirably enough at right back for his league debut, looking strong in defence. Will need to show more of what he can do going forward in subsequent games before we can really start forgetting about N. Clyne. 


Jonathan Parr, 7: Only lasted the 72 minutes before being replaced by David Wright as Dougie Freedman looked to secure the win, but put in a good shift on the left side of midfield offering defensive cover and guile going forward. 


Aaron Martin, 6: The on-loan from Southampton centre-back looked reasonably assured on his league debut.  At 6ft 3in he gives away a couple of inches to the departed Anthony Gardner, but still adds much needed height to the Palace back-line.

Kagisho Dikgacoi, 6: A typically busy peformance from the South African. Started out on the right side of midfield and nearly got on the scoresheet after 32 minutes only for his header to be cleared off the line by Sean Murray.  Later saw a goal-bound shot deflected wide.

Owen Garvan, 8:  Coolly despatched the spot-kick that gave Palace the lead before waltzing through the Watford defence to poke home his second of the afternoon.  Looked at home in his attacking midfield role.

Mile Jedinak, 7:  Captain in Paddy McCarthy's absence, the Jedi picked up defensive duties in midfield.  Tackles were won and passes played, but ultimately Watford were allowed to creep back into the game under his watch.  Much is anticpated from the Australian international this season who played in his country's friendly defeat to Scotland last Wednesday.


Wilfried Zaha, 8:  Won the penalty for Palace whilst chasing a loose ball that others might have ignored before being the main attacking threat in the second half.  Carrying on where he left off last season, Zaha was a joy to watch, something Watford defender Chris Dickinson was forced to do on occassion as Wilf ran rings around him.


Aaron Wilbraham, 7:   The 32-year-old, signed on a free from Norwich, helped set up Palace's second goal when he nodded down Julian Speroni's clearance into the path of Owen Garvan.  A player in the same mould as Glen Murray on initial inspection, Dougie could field a bruising centre-forward pairing if he so chose.

Dean Moxey, 7:  Steady performance at left-back.  Wasn't really troubled by anything Watford could throw at him down the flank he was guarding.


Peter Ramage, 7:  Back at Selhurst permanently following a free transfer from QPR, Ramage could have sealed all three points for Palace in the 79th minute only for his header to just fly over the crossbar from Garvan's corner.


David Wright, 6:  A 72nd substitute for Parr, bought on to tighten up the midfield and help see out the game.  The plan worked until the last six minutes of the game.