At the unconventional time of 2:15 PM, on Sunday afternoon, Crystal Palace were facing Stoke City at Selhurst Park.
With Alan Pardew’s men looking to pick up their first consecutive wins of the calendar year and the visitors desperately trying to escape a dismal run of form, this fixture became extremely intriguing to the neutral eye.
Andros Townsend was unquestionably brought to the club with the intention of creating and scoring more goals from wide positions. Since his arrival at Palace, the England International generally hasn’t met these high expectations. In the ninth minute, Townsend began his quest to answer his critics after producing a sublime ball into the box from a set piece. The initial header coming from Stoke's Jon Walters before summer arrival James Tomkins crowned his home debut by getting the deciding touch, which took the ball past veteran 'keeper Shay Given.
The hosts were brimming with confidence, once again displaying their aerial prowess as in the eleventh minute Jason Puncheon whipped a well-rehearsed corner into the box, allowing Scott Dann to thump a powerful header into the back off the opposition net. The centre-back now has seven goals in 2016, two more than any other Premier League defender. Dann's performance once again sparked claims he should be involved in Sam Allardyce’s England set up and extending the hosts lead to two goals after uncompromised early dominance.
The Potters began the second half brightly, hoping to claw their way back into a game that looked seemingly lost. Unfortunately, the visitors could not conjure up a real opportunity and summer loanee signing Wilfried Bony looking incredibly uninterested. Sluggishly moving around up top and not troubling Steve Mandanda in the Palace goal at all. Pardew’s side took full advantage, in the 70th minute eventually killing the game after talisman Puncheon floated another set piece into the box, Christian Benteke nodded the ball on to James McArthur who cleverly opened up his body, allowing him to strike the ball with his right foot. Fortunately, the ball took a huge deflection off Geoff Cameron, wrong-footing Given and landing into the empty net.
The hosts topped off a brilliant performance in the 75th minute with Townsend picking the ball up on the left flank of the pitch, confidently striving forward, swiftly breezing past weak opposition defenders and finally taking a shot on the edge of the 18 yard box which left the 'keeper helpless as it nestled into the bottom right hand corner and giving the man-of-the-match his deserved rewards. Pardew described Townsend's performance as “sensational” also claiming that he “hoped Allardyce was watching because he was outstanding”.
In the last offerings of the game, a desperate attempt of a Bony pass unluckily came off make-shift left back Martin Kelly. The former Liverpool defender's touch perfectly setting up Marko Arnautovic to rifle the ball past the Palace goalkeeper after having a truly uneventful game. Although, simply a minor blip in a resurgent Palace performance that saw them rise up the Premier League table to eighth, with a respectable seven points after five games.