Alan Pardew has praised his young hitman Dwight Gayle after he scored the goal that grabbed the Eagles a precious point as they look to steer clear from the bottom three.
Crystal Palace have been on a woeful run of form which has seen them not win a Premier League game in 2016, but yesterday’s battling point may spark a revival in coming weeks as they look forward to a FA Cup semi-final tie against Watford at the end of April.
Palace had to do it the hard way yesterday despite Damien Delaney gaving them the early lead with a header after Adrian’s mistake. Manuel Lanzini and another top-notch free-kick from ‘man of the moment’ Dimitri Payet put the Hammers in front heading into half-time.
But Pardew threw on Gayle at the interval in the hope of salvaging something and - after a red card to Cheikhou Kouyate - Gayle’s composed finish following Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid's mix-up was most welcome for the travelling fans.
Pardew says ‘Gayle’s probably our most natural finisher’
Throughout their time in the Premier League, Palace have never been able to find a consistent goal scorer; in the summer Pardew brought in Connor Wickham but it has been a stop-start season for the former Sunderland man.
And then in January Pardew opted to sign Emmanuel Adebayor to try and rectify their goalscoring problems but he has failed to hit the ground running as of yet.
Gayle has also had his injury problems this year, though his goal on Saturday shows just how important he could be in the run in.
Speaking after the game, Pardew said: "Gayle's probably our most natural finisher and we're going to need him.”
With his time on the sidelines, it looks as though Gayle has been putting the work in, with Pardew saying, “He looks bigger, stronger, more muscular.”