Football: Kenny's canny game of possession frustrates Palace

Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle United 2
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The Independent Online
The last 10 minutes of Saturday's Premiership match at Selhurst Park said much about Kenny Dalglish's Newcastle team.

Crystal Palace had brought the score back to 2-1 and were throwing men forward in search of an equaliser. Under Kevin Keegan, Newcastle might have considered attack the best form of defence and exploited the gaps that had begun to appear in Palace's rearguard.

Dalglish's side, however, taught Palace a lesson in possession football. When they did finally win the ball, Palace were panicked into getting it forward too quickly and Newcastle coped comfortably with a succession of speculative long passes.

With their Champions' League campaign all but over, Newcastle can concentrate on climbing up the table. This was their first match in a run of eight Premiership games in 30 days (the second is tonight at Bolton) and they look well equipped to pick up points from bread-and-butter fixtures like Saturday's.

The recall of Stuart Pearce after injury as a central defender, with Alessandro Pistone moving to left-back, was a canny move by Dalglish. Pearce, starting a game for the first time in three months, formed a rock- solid partnership alongside Darren Peacock.

Without Alan Shearer and Faustino Asprilla, Newcastle are having to improvise in attack. John Barnes, who went off with an ankle injury midway through the second half, looked out of place, but Temuri Ketsbaia was a constant threat and scored his first Premiership goal with a sharp 20-yard shot at the end of the first half. The Georgian's through ball then set up Jon Dahl Tomasson for only his second Premiership goal.

"It was a marvellous show of courage and commitment from every one of my players," Dalglish said. "They had a difficult game in Barcelona but they came here and did well. If we had not been as committed we would not have got what we did."

Palace, who have won five times away from home, rarely looked capable of recording their first home win after Bruce Dyer had to be substituted after only 14 minutes. The England under-21 international, who had already hit a post, was injured by a nasty challenge from Pistone which, remarkably, went totally unpunished by the referee, Michael Riley.

Steve Coppell, the Palace manager, said: "I asked the referee about it, but he said he was looking at the linesman and he didn't think it was a foul. It seemed to be a bit of a retaliation foul because Pistone thought he was fouled earlier on. When Bruce went off we had three players who wanted to play centre-forward."

With Andy Roberts and Michele Padovano also going off with foot and ankle injuries respectively, Palace regularly had to change their shape. Paul Warhurst moved from defence into attack after Dyer's injury, then went into midfield to replace Roberts and finally found himself back in attack after the substitution of Padovano, who had looked promising on his home debut.

Neil Shipperley worked tirelessly and was rewarded with his fourth goal in as many games when he reduced the arrears with a fine shot from the edge of the area. Itzik Zohar, a pounds 1.2m summer signing from Antwerp who has yet to make his full debut, added some creativity to the Palace midfield when he came on in the second half but Newcastle were worthy winners.

Goals: Ketsbaia (45) 0-1; Tomasson (63) 0-2; Shipperley (67) 1-2.

Crystal Palace (5-2-3): Miller; Edworthy, Linighan, Warhurst, Hreidarsson, Gordon; Roberts (Zohar, 48), Rodger; Dyer (Smith, 14), Shipperley, Padovano (Emblen 57). Substitutes not used: Veart, Nash (gk).

Newcastle United (4-4-2) Hislop; Watson, Peacock, Pearce, Pistone; Gillespie, Batty, Tomasson, Hamilton; Ketsbaia, Barnes (Lee, 64). Substitutes not used: Crawford, Albert, Hughes, Srnicek (gk).

Referee: M A Riley (Leeds).

Bookings: Palace: Warhurst. Newcastle: Batty, Peacock, Lee.

Man of the match: Pearce.

Attendance: 26,085.

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