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April 19 2019 10.05am

Vital win nicked from Toon

April 7 2019

Jubilation in the Palace ranks after Luka scores from the spot. Job done. (photo: Dan Crafter)

Jubilation in the Palace ranks after Luka scores from the spot. Job done. (photo: Dan Crafter)

It was an important match for two teams seeking safety. Palace won the match 1-0. Jamesey watched in London while Dan Crafter made the long trip to Newcastle.

The Eagles took the road for the most distant away match in the league calendar, writes Jamesey.

And the trip to Newcastle was possibly a key game in the sense that three points could lift the winner to an almost certain spot in next season’s elite group.

Apart from Mamadou Sako, still recovering from injury, manager Roy Hodgson had the Eagles’ strongest first-choice selection to choose from.

After a bright start during which the visitors actually managed to keep the ball for the season’s longest stretch of time this supporter can recall, the match reverted to the customary tactic of defend and counter-attack.

The Geordies looked a much stronger proposition than their lowly league position implied with Almiron and Rondon always dangerous.

Both sides had disallowed goals and this supporter is still confused by what constitutes “offside” nowadays.

Once it was simple, any player beyond the last defender was adjudged offside but now a player has to be interfering with play.

Thus, when James Tomkins banged the ball past the Magpies keeper towards the end of the first period it looked as though Palace had taken the lead against the run of play. However because James McArthur, who was standing almost in front of Dubravka, had moved his foot toward the ball as it whistled past him, he was offside.

The second half saw Newcastle gaining more and more momentum and it was only the fact that they were as wasteful with chances as the Eagles have been at home this season, that the scores remained 0-0.

Despite his continuing loss of form, when Christian Benteke came on for Michy Batshuayi in the 64th minute, the visitors looked more comfortable. Just like in the Huddersfield match, despite the substitute’s slip-up when a goal looked certain. Hard choices for Mr Hodgson.

The main threat on the Geordies’ goal came, of course, from Wilfried Zaha who harried, weaved, swerved and was a massive pain in the proverbial to the black-and-whites.

Thanks yet again to Wilf, 10 minutes from the end, he was fouled in the box by Yedlin and the Eagles were awarded an undeniable penalty. What would we do without Wilf?

Luka Milivojevic, by the laws of nature, must miss a penalty soon but on this day he didn’t and it was 1-0 to Palace.

A long seven minutes added on due to injury time were nail-biting but thankfully that was how the match concluded.

Despite a frankly uninspiring display from the Eagles, a large dollop of good luck and some resolute defending saw the visitors reach 39 points and the Magpies still a possible relegation candidate.

The red-and-blue supporters got their reward for a long journey there and back and it was the Selhurst team’s first victory at St James Park for 21 years.

Dan Crafter continues below

Jamesey


Pigeons and Magpies

After missing the opportunity to attend the opening fixture of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, I decided that another away trip was in order, writes Dan Crafter.

After all Palace have played very well away from home this season and an away trip to Newcastle was tempting as neither me nor my son, Ethan had been to St James' Park.

The free coach travel was appealing although a 5.30 am departure was not, so I booked us some train tickets.

We departed King's Cross at 8.30am and the journey was pleasant and went very quickly with a mixture of Palace fans, Newcastle fans, hen parties and families making up the passengers in our surrounding coaches.

We arrived in Newcastle at 11.40am and headed towards the Tyne for some sightseeing. After locating the Tyne bridge we walked under it along the river bank. "Plop", a pigeon scores a hit on my coat sleeve and a man standing on a tour boat shouts, "That's meant to be lucky!".

It certainly didn't feel that way at the time and after wiping the mess off with a tissue and walking a little further down the Tyne opposite HMS Calliope, we decided it was time for lunch. We enjoyed a couple of beverages and burger in the nearby Slug and Lettuce and it was time to make the climb back up into the City Centre for the match.

As we approached the stadium I was in awe of the size of the thing. The Milburn stand and Leazes stand are massive and if the Gallowgate and East stands were to ever be built to the scale of the other two, it would be immense!

We headed over to the Leazes stand via the road under the Milburn stand. Time for another climb - I lost count of the amount of flights of stairs we had to climb although my lungs and heart let me know it was a fair few and we quenched our thirsts at the bar.

Looking out at the actual park behind the Leazes stand, I could see two magpies bouncing around in a tree. Two for joy - another piece of good luck maybe?

Around half an hour before kick-off, Ethan and I headed to our seats and I must say the view from our seats was breathtaking! We watched the warm-ups and as the rest of the travelling Palace fans emerged and headed to their seats I could sense a collective expectant mood.

Kick-off and us Palace fans are in full voice getting behind the team. Newcastle start the stronger and it's not long before the ball is in the back of the Palace net.

Phew - Rondon is offside and the goal is chalked off.

Vicente Guaita does really well in the first half and keeps Newcastle at bay as they pepper the Palace goal. Palace then get a corner after some good play by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and James Tomkins plants the ball in the back of the net!

There is a roar from us Palace fans although this turns into a groan as James McArthur was adjudged offside and in front of Martin Dubravka, the Magpies keeper. The half time whistle is blown a few minutes after.

The second half starts and the play carries on in the same vein as the first with Newcastle having more of the possession and chances than Palace.

Palace play the ball out of defence to Andros Townsend and Lejeune makes an awkward challenge on him and he comes off worse and is down for what seems at least five minutes before being stretchered off.

Scott Dann replaces Tomkins who limps off and there is a roar from the Newcastle fans three minutes later as Jonjo Shelvey replaces Ki Sung-Yong.

Christian Benteke then has a great chance after coming on for Michy Batshuayi earlier and makes a mess of it with a mistimed attempt at goal.

Then, the breakthrough. Aaron Wan-Bissaka makes a great tackle on Almiron and Palace break through Benteke who passes to Wilfried Zaha. Zaha then does what he does best. He evades one lunging tackle and then gets tripped by DeAndre Yedlin.

Penalty to Palace! Surely Luka Milivojevic can convert yet another penalty? He does and it's bedlam in the upper Leazes stand as us Palace fans go wild with celebration! Can Palace hold on for another 9 minutes? Yes - and then 7 minutes are added on for injury time. Can they hold on for longer? This is agony! Yes they can!

Another 3 points on the road and the first time that Palace have won at St James's Park since 1998. The Crafters walk on air to the station and enjoy the train ride back to London.

Dan Crafter


Email Jamesey with your comments to jevans3704@aol.com

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