Palace 2-1 Stoke
Crystal Palace completed a hat-trick against Stoke City with a third win over the Potters for the season. Having already won 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League in December and 1-0 at Selhurst Park in the FA Cup in January, the Eagles come from behind to claim the points against Mark Hughes’ men.
This was only the ninth time in the Club’s history that Palace have completed a treble over the same Club in a single season:
- 1933/34 – Aldershot
- 1964/65 – Southampton
- 1974/75 – Watford
- 1975/76 – Colchester
- 1989/90 – Charlton
- 1993/94 – Charlton
- 2005/06 – Coventry
The Eagles actually beat Swindon Town four times in the 1988/89 season, but they played a total of 6 times – 2 wins in the League Cup (two legs), 1 win in the League and 1 win in the Play-Off Semi Final. Swindon won 1 of the League games and 1 of the Play-Off Semi Final legs.
Next week Palace have the opportunity to beat Southampton for a third time this season – beating two teams three times in the same season would be a first for the Club.
Based on the first half performance, it seemed distinctly unlikely that the above paragraphs would have been written. Palace were awful and it was more likely that Stoke would add to Charlie Adam’s opener than the hosts producing a comeback. Instead, whatever Alan Pardew said at half time had the desired effect as his team came out all guns blazing.
Just 70 seconds into the second half, Yannick Bolasie went on a run that saw him upended in the penalty area. The ball fell kindly, however, for Gayle who side footed into the far bottom corner with the referee signalling play on.
Jason Puncheon then fired over and Connor Wickham hit the post with a header before Gayle grabbed his second of the game with a free kick from around 25 yards out in the 68th minute.
Late on Arnautovic had a chance to level for the visitors as Wayne Hennessey went walkabouts. The Welsh stopper misjudged the weight on the Stephen Ireland through ball and the Stoke number ten rounded him, but his finish flew over the crossbar to the delight of the home fans.
Stoke would like to claim that they are a different team to the one that Tony Pulis oversaw for so many years – they didn’t look like it in this one. Phil Bardsley tried to take Bolasie’s head off with an extremely overzealous tackle and Ireland look like he wanted to break Bolasie’s legs as he lunged in two footed on the Palace winger – the referee wrongly deciding that he should be booked and not sent off. That is the second time this season that he has got away with not being red carded at Selhurst Park after a two footed lunge injured Cabaye back in January in the FA Cup fixture.
The fact that Mark Hughes had the audacity to complain about the referee after the game, in which two of his players should have been sent off, was laughable. But I have come to expect nothing else from the whinging Welshman.
Man of the Match: Dwight Gayle
Aside from the goals, Gayle put in a tremendous and effective shift. He was fouled seven times in the match, four times more than any other player on the field (and it could have been double the amount as the referee was very generous towards the Stoke defenders when Gayle had his back to goal), winning free kicks in dangerous areas for his team – including the foul for the free kick that he fired home.
He also helped to create chances, notably when he deftly flicked a Connor Wickham pass around the defender and into the path of Jason Puncheon, who fired over.
But this hasn’t shown me anything that I didn’t know about Gayle. With a strike partner he can look like a world beater, without one he is a picture of isolation. The question is, can we afford to regularly play with two up top? With James McArthur back alongside Yohan Cabaye, I think the answer is yes in a majority of fixtures.
Dwight is now in poll position to finish as the Club’s top scorer for the third season running – an incredible feat considering the amount of playing time that he has had in those three years.
Up Next: Southampton
Another hat-trick to send us to Wembley full of confidence? Fingers crossed.
Come on you Palace!