West Ham United 2-2 Crystal Palace: Plenty of positives for Pardew, but relegation fears remain

The Eagles were much-improved in their spirited draw at the Boleyn Ground, but still remain in the battle to stay in the division.

West Ham United 2-2 Crystal Palace: Plenty of positives for Pardew, but relegation fears remain
Gayle's goal gave Palace a share of the points | Photo: Getty images
West Ham United
2 2
Crystal Palace
West Ham United: Adrian; Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Kouyate (sent-off, min. 67), Noble (Obiang, min. 80), Emenike (Carroll, min. 60), Lanzini, Payet, Sakho (Valencia, min. 69)
Crystal Palace : Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Jedinak, Ledley (Campbell, min. 71), Zaha (Gayle, min. 45), Puncheon, Sako; Bolasie
SCORE: 0-1, min. 14, Delaney. 1-1, min. 17 Lanzini. 2-1 min. 41, Payet. 2-2, min. 75, Gayle
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg. Booked: Reid, Noble, Sako, Ward. Sent-off: Kouyate.
INCIDENTS: Attendance: 34,857

Alan Pardew’s side’s winless run continues to 14 games, but the Crystal Palace boss will see a vast amount of positives in his team’s come back against ten-man West Ham.

Palace had gone ahead through Damien Delaney’s third goal of the season, but the Hammers fought back before half-time and scored twice through Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet’s stunning free-kick.

Cheikhou Kouyate was harshly sent-off midway through the second-half and the Eagles capitalised thanks to substitute Dwight Gayle’s first Premier League goal of the season.

Frantic first-half sees Palace take shock lead, stunning Payet goal turns game around

The match had a fast tempo from the very first minute and lived up to the typical London derby expectation; Joe Ledley tested Adrian in the West Ham goal within the first two minutes, while Michail Antonio fired a dangerous effort into the grateful hands of Wayne Hennessey.

The Eagles took the lead in the fourteenth minute when Bakary Sako’s free-kick evaded everyone and forced a save from Adrian, but the Spanish goalkeeper’s parry was poor and the ball fell straight to Delaney who headed home from close-range.

The home side responded well, however, and were level just two minutes later when makeshift full-back Antonio’s cross was cleared by Palace, but only as far as Lanzini who fired beyond Hennessey and into the net.

Slaven Bilic’s side have only lost once at home all season and there was clear evidence of why throughout the first-half as the Hammers dominated much of the game and tested the Palace defence on regular occasions, especially through the lively Emmanuel Emenike.

Pardew had reportedly told his players to not concede free-kicks within shooting-range due to Payet’s superb form from set-pieces, so the Palace manager would have been furious when his side fell behind just before half-time thanks to a special free-kick from the Frenchman.

Joel Ward tripped the Hammers’ talisman 25-yards from goal, and Payet beautifully curled the resulting free-kick past the wall and into the far corner beyond Hennessey - who seemingly just watched in awe. The goalkeeper would have been disappointed that he had not made a better effort to keep the ball out, but Payet’s strike hit the angle of the post and crossbar before going in.

Palace responded by replacing the ineffective Wilfried Zaha with Gayle at half-time in a bid to end their horrific run that has stripped large amounts of confidence from the team – particularly in front of goal.

Following a fairly slow start to the second-half, the game finally re-ignited back into life when Sako picked up a loose ball from an Adrian clearance, but the Mali international's goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by the excellent Aaron Cresswell.

Gayle scored his first goal since January 2015 | Photo: Getty images
Gayle scored his first Premier League goal since January 2015 | Photo: Getty images

Gayle equaliser boosts morale

The Hammers were then reduced to ten-men when Kouyate’s challenge on Gayle was deemed out of control by referee Mark Clattenburg, and the official produced a straight red card for the midfielder.

The incident was almost a repeat of the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park in October when Clattenburg produced a red card for Gayle for a foul on Kouyate, and the sending-off swung the game in favour of West Ham who went on to claim an easy victory. However, Kouyate's sending-off swung the game in favour of Palace, who eventually took advantage of the extra man.

Pape Souare – who scored a superb free-kick for Senegal in midweek – delivered a trademark cross which West Ham failed to deal with, leaving Gayle with the simple task of rolling the ball past Adrian to send the travelling fans into raptures.

The goal was Gayle’s first in the league for a staggering 442 days and should he start regularly finding the net, he could finally get an extended run as Palace’s first choice striker having previously been frustrated at the lack of opportunities he had been getting since Pardew took charge just over a year ago. 

The equaliser gave Palace a confidence boost and the home side ended up retreating towards their own goal as both Sako and Yannick Bolasie went close with late efforts.

However, the draw leaves Pardew with several positives going into the final seven league games as he plans Palace’s revival. The Eagles remain seven points above the relegation zone, although they have a game in hand over Swansea City – who remain three points above.