Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 Wednesday 11 February 8pm
A fair score and glad to get this one out of the way without defeat to our old manager, which the press would have absolutely loved.
The only thing missing to round off the whole circus surrounding our Pardew reunion, would have been Shola Ameobi popping up to bundle in the winner. The stuff of nightmares.
Looking for positives in the game, I suppose you can definitely say that both teams were giving it their all, whether that is for the respective managers/head coaches, or just personal integrity.
As for entertainment though, it was very thin on the ground.
The play ended up being mainly played in the congested central area of the pitch, with Cisse isolated up front and everybody else involved in the scrum of preventing the other team scoring.
With Palace adopting very similar tactics until late in the second half, it is little wonder that there were only a combined four strikes on target for the two teams. A bot of a miracle really that we ended up with two goals based on those stats.
Daryl Janmaat weaved his way down the right before putting in a brilliant right footed cross just as he was going to run out of pitch. Cabella was arriving late in the box but Cisse was the only realistic target waiting. The Dutchman’s cross was inch perfect amongst three or four watching defenders, his bullet header from around eight or nine yards zeroing into the top corner.
A goal of such quality was so out of keeping with the previous 41 minutes.
Half-time was safely reached and the travelling fans had a welcome smile on their faces as they discussed the goal, ignoring what had gone before.
These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;
Possession was 46% Newcastle and 54% Palace
Total shots was 5 for Newcastle and Palace 7
Shots on target was Newcastle 1 and Palace 3
While corners was Newcastle 2 and Palace 5
Pardew had been forced to bring on Fraizer Campbell for Sanogo but resisted the urge to start the second period with a more attacking set-up.
So for another twenty minutes we returned to what had gone before, apart from Cisse’s sweet goal of course.
As 65 minutes came around, Pardew became more animated and made changes, much as he did whilst at Newcastle. Gayle and Bolasie replacing Kelly and Chamakh.
Within a few minutes the move had paid dividends, Bolasie’s cross ending up with Campbell who guided it past Krul. There were echoes of Sunday with Mike Williamson oblivious to where the danger was, allowing the former Sunderland striker to equalise.
Twenty minutes to go and both home crowd and players well up for it.
As Palace pressed, Carver and his players became more an more defensive, with both their play and off the field decisions.
Papiss Cisse couldn’t believe it when he was replaced by defensive midfielder Mehdi Abeid, whilst Dummett for Cabella was equally strange.
John Carver explained afterwards that he made the subs because he didn’t want to get beat. A dangerous tactic though and one that almost backfired, two minutes from the end Hangeland forced Tim Krul into a brilliant save that rescued a point and his manager/head coach.
Maybe Carver will feel justified as he banked a point, but the chants of ‘Are you Pardew in disguise’, suggested that the Newcastle fans who had made the trip were less than impressed.
A bit of a strange night all round and it was never going to be an easy one for Pardew’s former assistant. However, John Carver’s positive post-match patter can only go so far to disguise the statistic of only one threat to the opposition goal all night.
Team: Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Williamson, Haidara, Colback, Sissoko, Cabella (Dummett 86), Gouffran, Cisse (Abeid 78), Perez (Riviere 90+1)
Unused Subs: Woodman, Ryan Taylor, Anita, Obertan
Ref: Andre Marriner