Danny Butterfield scored a six-minute hat-trick to inspire Crystal Palace to a 3-1 FA Cup victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday night.
A header on 62 minutes, a right-foot shot on 65 minutes and an excellent left-foot volley on 68 minutes completed the ‘perfect hat-trick’ for Butterfield, who last scored in December 2008. It was also the club’s fastest ever hat-trick.
“Well you won’t believe this but I told Danny he would score tonight” said Neil Warnock, the Palace manager. “I didn’t think he would score three!” Butterfield is a left-back by trade but has been employed in advanced positions due to the departure of a number of players from the club, most notably Victor Moses.
The Selhurst Park faithful were in good voice during this fourth-round replay, supporting their team fervently in a time of need. The Eagles, who recently entered administration, comfortably outplayed their opponents.
The first half came to life just before the interval when Palace right-back, Nathaniel Clyne, burst down the wing, slipped the ball to Darren Ambrose who then crossed to Nick Carle. However, the midfielder, unmarked at the back post, dragged his shot wide of the target.
Sensing they could cause an upset, Palace began the second half well. On 50 minutes a close-range free kick by Ambrose stretched Wayne Hennessey, the Wolves goalkeeper. Moments later Ambrose sent another free kick whistling past the goal.
The home side began to grow in confidence. Neil Danns, the smallest player on the pitch, jumped highest in a crowded six-yard box to head inches wide. Mick McCarthy selected a strong team for the tie but the Premier League strugglers looked devoid of ideas.
Clearly disappointed with his team’s strike force, McCarthy hauled off new signing Geoffrey Mujangi Bia and Sam Vokes. The pair were replaced by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Chris Iwelumo, but the substitution failed to change Wolves’ fortunes.
Enter Danny Butterfield.
The ever-influential Ambrose swung in a corner which found an unmarked Matt Lawrence. His header was parried by Hennessey but Butterfield was alert to the rebound to head home.
Wolves were visibly stunned and their deficit was doubled minutes later when Butterfield pounced on a ball from Ambrose to beat the offside trap and squeeze the ball under Hennessey for his second.
Butterfield’s classic hat-trick was complete when he ghosted between the Wolves defence and keeper to fire a volley into the near corner.
Wolves were finally able to muster a shot on goal in the 90th minute with Karl Henry smashing a strike into the top corner past Julian Speroni.
“I thought the first 15-20 minutes were very boring by both teams but then I thought we dominated going into the interval and carried on after. We have a date against Villa and it is a great opportunity for us” said Warnock.
Palace will now play a home tie against Aston Villa in the fifth round on Sunday 14 February, Valentines Day, when the romance and magic of the FA Cup will continue.