Newcastle vs Crystal Palace match report: Wilfried Zaha rescues point for Neil Warnock in six-goal thriller

Newcastle 3 Crystal Palace 3

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The Independent Football

At five o’clock yesterday morning Neil Warnock headed to the toilet, as, he later admitted, men of 65 are prone to do. At that point, as he again admitted, he felt a first pang of regret.

Warnock has been a manager for 34 years and at 13 clubs. Still, he answered the call from Crystal Palace to drive into a storm (though not on the tractor he keeps at home in Cornwall). Answering the call of nature gave rise to a doubt that he had done the right thing, an emotion he again felt half an hour before his new side ran out at St James’ Park.

It was not quite five o’clock in the afternoon, although it was not a great deal shy of it, when those pangs of doubt floated off into the Tyneside air. Five minutes of injury-time had been played and his team were somehow trailing by the odd goal in five, when a free-kick launched from the edge of the Palace penalty area was headed into the heart of the Newcastle box by Scott Dann. Wilfried Zaha, a player, like Warnock, with something to prove, crashed a left-footed shot into the Newcastle goal. He is still a Manchester United employee, but Warnock tapped into the player’s soul by taking him home to Selhurst Park, 24 hours after he himself had taken over the reins.

In that instant, it all made sense again. Warnock waved his fists in the air in triumph at the side of the pitch. The staff he hardly knows jumped around him. Palace’s players celebrated, and they had every right to. Defeat to an often-insipid Newcastle would have been hard enough to take, but it would have been compound by the displays of Dwight Gayle, Zaha and Jason Puncheon.

“I did (regret coming back) about half an hour before the game, and at five o’clock this morning. At my age you have to do things at five in the morning. I thought then, ‘Why am I back?’  But I enjoyed it and I can’t ask much more of the players. We’ve had two good days and two cracking sessions. They played like they can play. I don’t want them to get tied down.


“I have loved football when I have a group of players who want to come in for training, who want to play, who want to put their heads in and who love to tackle. The camaraderie here is incredible. There is not a bad apple in the squad.

“Newcastle’s best attacks were our mistakes. That gave them opportunities. We were more clinical in the second half and we nearly went 3-1 up. It was cruel to be 3-2 down. All credit to the players. To come back in injury time. It was a fantastic achievement from all of them.”

Gayle struck for his side after just 31 seconds. Then Warnock barely celebrated. Newcastle stuttered into life and just past the half hour found a reply when Daryl Janmaat’s run and shot deflected past Julian Speroni off Damien Delaney.

Warnock had criticised Puncheon last season for a missed penalty. The player was unhappy at that and responded through Twitter. Peace had been made by the time he volleyed in an excellent second three minutes into the second half.

Newcastle found life only through the 18-year-old sub Rolando Aarons. The winger scored from Rémy Cabella’s corner in the 73rd minute and in the 89th he chipped a cross that struck the Palace post before Mike Williamson prodded in the rebound. Still, the visitors would not buckle. In the fifth of seven minutes of added time, Zaha struck.

“We’ve conceded a goal after 30 seconds and we conceded straight after half time,” said Alan Pardew. “That is disappointing but we’ve come back each time. We then take the lead and get ourselves in a position. Two factors, one, I thought we got carried away when we took the lead. At this level you can’t do that, you have to see the game out.

“Second, they wasted time from the first minute, and time and time again they took ages on free-kicks and everything. They are 3-2 down and then the referee gave them seven minutes of injury-time. It didn’t fit right with me.”

Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Krul; Janmaat (Anita 79), Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara; Colback; Cabella, Sissoko, De Jong (Perez 79), Gouffran (Aarons 67); Riviere.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Kelly; Puncheon, Jedinak, Ward, Bolasie (Murray 83); Chamakh (Campbell 52), Gayle (Zaha 70).

Referee: Mike Jones.

Man of the match: Gayle (Palace)

Match rating: 8/10