The task facing Tony Pulis as he takes over at Crystal Palace is of no less magnitude for this result but when he takes charge of training for the first time tomorrow he will have something positive from which to make capital: Palace not only have their first away point, they have three.
At a pinch, he could argue it was no less than they deserved, especially for showing the character not to go into retreat after losing their midfielder Yannick Bolasie to a red card with 13 minutes to go.
Against a Hull City side previously unbeaten at home this season, they had fashioned just as many chances as they were obliged to defend and, sensing they could create more even with 10 men, they were rewarded for pressing on as Barry Bannan hit a winning goal only four minutes later.
Hull’s performance was ordinary at best, although they did come close to scrambling a point in stoppage time, when the Palace defender Dean Moxey somehow hooked Jake Livermore’s effort off the line in a goalmouth scramble. The visiting supporters held their breath as Liam Rosenior’s follow-up shot from outside the box hit the woodwork.
Clearly, though, it was to be Palace and Pulis’s day. As the final whistle sounded, the Palace chairman, Steve Parish, offered his new manager a pat on the back, although it was caretaker Keith Millen who deserved all the credit.
The appointment of Pulis, after protracted negotiations, on a two-and-a-half-year contract may mean Millen’s time at the club is over, but after presiding over three defeats in the immediate aftermath of Ian Holloway’s departure a month ago, Millen has ended with a draw against Everton and now a win.
Afterwards, he offered words of support for Pulis, as well as making it clear he wants to stay at the club. “I have said from the start that Tony should be top of the list of candidates because he has the experience at this level,” Millen said.
“I know Tony from other clubs I have worked at. I have spoken to him a couple of times and I will speak to him again on Monday. He needs to assess this group of players quickly and if there is any way I can help I would love to stay on.
“I’ve told him that I honestly believe these lads are capable of staying up. You pick up the vibes in training and there is a belief among them that they can do it.”
Bannan’s goal, his first for the club, lifted what had been a largely dismal match. Bolasie’s dismissal, after he caught Livermore above the ankle with a careless lunge at the ball, could have caused Palace heads to drop but, having posed a growing threat since Cameron Jerome – an old Pulis favourite – replaced an injured Marouane Chamakh 10 minutes before half-time, they continued to push forward.
Their reward came when Hull lost possession from a throw-in deep in their own half. Dwight Gayle fed Jerome on the left and his cross to the far post was struck firmly past Allan McGregor by an unmarked Bannan.
The Hull manager, Steve Bruce, admitted his side were short of their best. “The performance is the big disappointment for us,” he said. “No matter what we tried to do, we didn’t have enough composure in the final third and we unfortunately ran out of ideas pretty quickly.”
Pulis kept out of Millen’s way during the game, but offered appreciation for his efforts afterwards. “Obviously I am very happy to be at the club and it is terrific to come in on the back of a win,” he said. “This is a great result for me and the first thing I would like to do is thank Keith for what he has done over the last few weeks.”
Hull (4-1-3-2): McGregor; Elmohamady, Davies, McShane (Rosenior, 58), Figueroa; Huddlestone; Koren (Gedo, 77), Livermore, Boyd; Brady (Graham, h-t), Sagbo.
Crystal Palace (4-1-4-1): Speroni; Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Jedinak; Bolasie, Dikgacoi (O’Keefe, 74), Bannan, Gayle (Puncheon, 85); Chamakh (Jerome, 35).
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Man of the match: Jerome (Crystal Palace)
Match rating: 5/10
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