Newcastle vs Crystal Palace: Andros Townsend the hero after Yohan Cabaye misses penalty on Alan Pardew return

Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0

Alan Obrien
St James' Park
Saturday 30 April 2016 18:42
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Andros Townsend celebrates scoring for Newcastle against Crystal Palace
Andros Townsend celebrates scoring for Newcastle against Crystal Palace

On the second day of April, at around five minutes to five, Martin Olsson scored a goal for Norwich and Newcastle, as a city, prepared itself for life in the Championship.

Seven days later, there was a surrender at Southampton. Rafa Benitez, fresh from Real Madrid, will have understood the white hanky that seemed to have been waved by the dressing room he had inherited.

Newcastle were six points from safety and without a victory since the start of February, which, by obvious coincidence, had been the last time they had last occupied a position of safety in the Premier League.

Benitez did not give up hope, that is undeniably true, but the people of Newcastle had.

When Andros Townsend curled a delightful 25-yard left foot free-kick on Saturday, at a full St James’ Park, into the corner of the Crystal Palace goal, Newcastle moved out of the bottom three.

Andros Townsend

In the roar of celebration, somewhere, was an element of disbelief.

Four games and eight points after the Newcastle team bus apologetically left the South coast, Benitez and his players had moved to a position of safety. With two games to go, Newcastle are fighting for their lives.

In the 69th minute, by which point Newcastle were winning and Sunderland, one of their main rivals in the battle for survival, were losing at Stoke, the referee Mike Dean stunned the stadium by pointing to the penalty spot for handball after Moussa Sissoko jumped to challenge with Scott Dann.

Benitez would later say it was not a penalty, but at that moment, a revival creaked.

Andros Townsend curls the ball into the top corner from a free-kick

Karl Darlow, Newcastle’s third choice goalkeeper, only playing because of cruciate knee injuries suffered by Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, six games ago, was excellent in the first half, saving from Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie.

But in the 70th minute, in front of the Gallowgate End, he grasped the moment to be a hero, diving to his left to parry Cabaye’s penalty. The ball was hacked clear and from there belief flooded into the stadium.

"It was not just the penalty,” said Benitez. “It was the balls in the air and punching and catching. It was giving confidence to the team, which we needed, that was important.

"Of course the keeper is a hero when he saves a penalty, but so is Andros. Let us hope Karl doesn’t have to save any more penalties.

"It is important for us and for the fans to be out of the bottom three but we still have to keep going and know we have to approach the game against Aston Villa like a cup final.

"Momentum is really important for us. We have won against Swansea and drew two really tough games against City and Liverpool. Now we have another three points and the players have confidence, that is the key. The fans understand that being behind the team is the key.

"I could not see why the penalty was given. It was not clear from the replay, but you cannot change the decision so it is good that the keeper saved the penalty - we are happy.”

It was an emotion not shared by Alan Pardew, on his first return to St James’ Park since he left 16 months ago.

Karl Darlow saves Cabaye's penalty

He rounded on Sam Allardyce for criticising his players ahead of the fixture. The Sunderland manager had said the Crystal Palace players would have been celebrating all week after reaching the FA Cup final.

"He hasn't got a case,” said Pardew. “Just send him the video. They're pre-historic comments. I don't know what era he's in. Three or four of my players don't drink. Perhaps he meant Coca-Cola. It's nonsense.”

Pardew would later pass his full media duties to Keith Millen, his assistant. For the first half his side could not be accused of doing anything but trying to win. After the break, they could not handle Newcastle’s revival.

“Sam didn’t effect us,” he added. “We know what we do. We prepare. We want to finish the season strongly. You can see that in our energy levels today against a Newcastle team that is fighting for their lives.

“The second half they started better than us. The first half we had a game plan and we executed it really well. We were on top. We should have been one nil up. The second half give hem credit they upped the tempo and the crowd got behind them.

“We strayed from our plan and that gave them the momentum.”

Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Darlow 8; Anita 8 (Shelvey 88, 3), Mbemba 7, Lascelles 8, Dummett 8; Tiote 7; Townsend 7, Sissoko 6, Colback 7, Wijnaldum 7 (Perez 81, 4); Cisse 6 (Mitrovic 72, 4).

Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Hennessy 6; Ward 6, Dann 6, Delaney 7, Souare 6; Cabaye 6, Jedanik 7; Puncheon 5 (Gayle 74, 4), McArthur 6 (Sako 61, 5), Bolasie 5; Wickham 6 (Adebayor 74, 3).

Ref: Mr Mike Dean 5

Star man: Lascelles

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