IT was perhaps appropriate Alan Pardew should glean some respite from the maelstrom on his return to this corner of south London. As a player he had been cherished in these parts, a committed worker whose finest moment, a headed winner against Liverpool, had earned Crystal Palace their only appearance to date in an FA Cup final. Just as fittingly given the turbulence that has surrounded Newcastleâ€™s manager since the turn of the year, his team made life painfully hard for themselves en route to chiseling out a rare victory.
This tie should have been claimed in normal time, the visitorsâ€™ superiority against a second-string and disjointed Palace lineup clear for long periods. Yet they panicked at the death to concede an equaliser to the young substitute, Sullay Kaikai, who buried his finish beyond Rob Elliot at the second attempt on his first senior appearance for the hosts. That felt wasteful, Pardew staring in disbelief from the dug-out to sum up his mood, with the dismissal of Mehdi Abeid for a second yellow card in the extra period darkening it further.
In that sorry context it was admirable his team boasted enough energy and intent for Paul Dummett, initially a left-back but switched to the opposite flank at the break, to spring up-field unnoticed eight minutes from the end of extra-time to meet the excellent Adam Armstrongâ€™s centre with a diving header. And all that for the dubious privilege of a fourth round trip to Manchester City. Then again, with his team bottom of the Premier League and off to Stoke on Monday, Pardew must grasp any hint of positivity they can at present.
The travelling supporters did not protest here, even with the visiting manager treated like a returning hero and serenaded by the Palace fans during and after the game. â€œItâ€™s always lovely coming back here, but I thought our fans were terrific tonight and made a conscious effort to support the team,â€ said Pardew. â€œThere wasnâ€™t too much going on about me or my position, and I thank them for that.â€
He could be upbeat for once and, in truth, there was little reason for Neil Warnock to feel downhearted at his first defeat since returning to this club himself a month ago. His revamped team had led early courtesy of Dwight Gayleâ€™s penalty, the award teased by Wilfried Zaha from Darly Janmaat,only for Newcastle to impose their authority thereafter. Emmanuel RiviÃ¨re equalised with a fine spin from Brede Hangeland and curled shot into the far corner beyond Wayne Hennessey. That was his first goal for the club since his summer move from Monaco, with his second duly registered after the break from the spot once Paddy McCarthy had floored the slippery Sammy Ameobi.
Andrew Johnsonâ€™s introduction for his first appearance for Crystal Palace in eight years provided a fillip, Gayle promptly heading against the foot of the post before Kaikaiâ€™s late intervention from close range. Even once Dummett had restored the lead, Adrian Mariappa might have earned a penalty shoot-out only for Elliot to improvise a block from the defenderâ€™s point-blank header.
Instead, Palace were left to bemoan Hangelandâ€™s harshly disallowed goal and a first loss under their new manager as Pardew prevailed. City will pose different kinds of problems. â€œTheir third team is pretty strong,â€ he offered, though that is a problem for another day. – The Guardian