A Dwight Gayle double saw Crystal Palace overturn a one goal deficit to secure a welcomed victory over Stoke City in what was their last home game of the 2015/16 Premier League season yesterday.
After an opening 45 minutes which weren’t played at rip-roaring pace, Pardew’s men found themselves behind thanks to a well-worked move that ended in Charlie Adam slotting the ball calmly into the bottom left-hand corner of the Holmesdale Road goal.
Luckily, it took the hosts just two minutes to restore parity in the second half, after a jinking run from winger Yannick Bolasie saw him brought down in the penalty area, prompting the ball to fall to the feet of Dwight Gayle who stroked a shot home from around 12 yards out.
The remainder of the half saw the home support get fully behind the players and into the head of the Potters’ defender Ryan Shawcross, whose frustration at being singled out for criticism from the stands saw him give away the free-kick that would lead to the winning goal.
Having convinced Jason Puncheon to let him hit the free-kick, Gayle powered an effort around the right-hand side of the wall, before seeing it slam into the back of the net, despite him losing his footing as he made contact. The Stoke goalkeeper should probably have done better, but we should take nothing away from the striker, who grabbed his opportunity to start a game in front of a buoyant home crowd with both hands.
The remainder of the clash was played out in fine style by the Palace players, who, after reaching 42 points and securing their mathematical safety in the Premier League for another season, can begin to turn their collective attention towards a date with Manchester United in this year’s FA Cup Final.