Crystal Palace vs Norwich match report: Alan Pardew's side claim first league win of calendar year

Crystal Palace 1 Norwich City 0

Steve Tongue
Selhurst Park
Saturday 09 April 2016 17:14
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Jason Puncheon celebrates his winning goal
Jason Puncheon celebrates his winning goal

After what must have been one of the worst hours of football in the Premier League this season a dramatic match suddenly burst out. By winning it with Jason Puncheon's goal soon afterwards, Crystal Palace can look forward to sharing the broadcasting riches next season while Norwich City must continue to worry a little longer.

A first win since December 19, when they sat fifth in the table and dreaming of Europe, put Palace ten points ahead of the relegation places, but in Norwich's case it is only four. They have played two games more than Sunderland, who visit them on Saturday.

In an otherwise uneventful first half, they lost Timm Klose, outstanding in the win over Newcastle, after the centre-half injured himself in a tackle on Dwight Gayle. They also looked to have a legitimate penalty claim when Damien Delaney barged Matt Jarvis over.

“Matt was adamant it was a penalty,” said manager Alex Neil, who was honest enough to admit: “It was an average game for both teams. You could see how much it meant and I don't think either team did enough to win it.”

Timm Klose receives treatment before leaving the field injured

Palace's Alan Pardew admitted having been so nervous himself that he was not surprised his players looked the same. “When you're on a run like we've been, players will be and they played like it,” he said.

“But it could still be a good season for us. We want to look up, mid-table is about right for us and we've got an opportunity to win the FA Cup.”

He had decided to leave out Wilfried Zaha after a couple of tired-looking games and the catalyst here was the winger's emergence from the dug-out in a substitution that the crowd had been loudly demanding. Left out for Gayle, who found the going hard on his own up front, Zaha woke the home support up and set up a chance with his first touch.

The unpredictable Puncheon miskicked that one but two minutes later collected Yohan Cabaye's deft pass and curled it into the far corner for his belated first goal of the season.

Alan Pardew salutes the home support after the victory

The only negative aspect of the substitution was that it energised Norwich as well. From being equally complicit in the earlier non-aggression pact, they produced some of the vim that had seen off Newcastle in a crucial last-minute victory a week ago.

Wayne Hennessey, who had illustrated Palace's nervousness in the first half, had to save from Ryan Bennett following a free-kick, then from Robbie Brady. In retaliation, playing on the counter-attack as suits them best, the home side gave John Ruddy work to do in twice foiling Zaha.

Pressure in the final few minutes came from Norwich, with goalkeeper Ruddy twice joining the attack. Patrick Bamford, booed after his unsuccessful period at Selhurst before Christmas, wasted a chance with Hennessey caught out of his goal.

So the only team in the Football League without a win this calendar year had one at last, and a first clean sheet for 13 games as a bonus. They will be far more relaxed going into Wednesday's home game with Everton, while for Norwich, as Neil said, Sunderland's visit at the weekend “was always going to be huge”.

Crystal Palace (4-1-4-1): Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Jedinak; Bolasie, Puncheon (Ledley, 75), Cabaye, Sako (Zaha, 65); Gayle (Wickham, 79)

Norwich (4-4-1-1): Ruddy; Wisdom, Bennett, Klose (Bassong, 38), Olsson; Jarvis (Redmond, 75), O'Neil, Howson, Brady; Naismith (Bamford, 66); Mbokani

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Man of match: Dann

Match rating: 6/10

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