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April 7 2020 4.14am

Hitting home form again

February 23 2020

Cahill and Benteke out-jump Magpies defence while Wilf looks on…

Cahill and Benteke out-jump Magpies defence while Wilf looks on…

These are worrying times for the Eagles but Jamesey had no complaints at a 1-0 win over Newcastle Utd.

Selhurst is nearly always full to bursting for home league games nowadays but this one (Feb 22), so the official site announced, was “sold out”.

Indeed even the odd few restricted view seats near me in the Arthur Wait, with a superb aspect of a pillar or the dreaded gantry, were occupied by some unsuspecting punters.

I have always had a high regard for Newcastle Utd supporters since, a few seasons ago, one of them, on a crowded Victoria-bound train, seeing an elderly gentleman obviously not in the best of health, stood and ushered me into his seat - an almost unbelievable gesture in this day and age.

But that was then and now is now, when both Magpies and Eagles are fighting to claw their respective paths back up the table to avoid what all chairmen, investors, and most supporters, fear, the “R” word.

After the poor performances in the last three games, all defeats and only one goal scored, and that a gift from a big boob from Everton’s Jordan Pickford, this really was a crucial juncture in the season.

However, the Eagles didn’t show any uncertainty at all and went for it, all guns firing, from the word go.

Two close efforts from defenders Gary Cahill and Scott Dann were thwarted by the Magpies keeper, Martin Dubravka, early on.

Unlike in recent displays, the Eagles pressed hard, created chances and even the wilderness man, Christian Benteke, created some off-target chances.

Wilfried Zaha always threatened on the left and the two “Jimmies” (James McArthur and James McCarthy), hustled and bustled and controlled the middle of the park.

It was a total mystery why the score was still 0-0 as half-time approached and it was a concern that such an industrious effort had produced no return for the home side.

Then came a free kick, outside the area but central. Deputising for the absent Luka Milivojevic, it was taken by Patrick van Aanholt, whose shot sailed over the wall and dipped nicely into the visitors’ net.

The crowd went bonkers, starved of much Eagles’ scoring this season, so this was akin to a minor miracle.

Apparently Patrick had been given the OK by Roy Hodgson to take any free kicks and promised the manager he would score.

He duly did, the half-time whistle sounded and a jubilant Palace side were one to the good.

Frankly there should have been more goals in the second period and the home side dominated the game but couldn’t convert any chances. Still at least the Eagles were creating opportunities and shooting at goal, completely unlike recent lacklustre showings.

Jordan Ayew just gets better and better and he was magnificent, here, there and everywhere. How he didn’t add to the score is another mystery.

There was some drama in added time when Zaha was through, one on one, but was cynically wrestled down by Newcastle’s Valentino Lazaro who was red-carded.

It was too late for Wilf to have made it 2-0 by then but three points and a step nearer the Loadsamoulah mid-table will satisfy all but the most unrealistically demanding supporters.

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