Aston Villa 0 Crystal Palace 1
Dwight Gayle sent a message to Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis with a stunning goal to secure a last-gasp victory over Aston Villa.
Palace, then under Ian Holloway, broke their transfer record to sign the former Bishop’s Stortford striker from Peterborough in the summer but he has started only seven Premier League games.
Pulis has not selected Gayle in any of his starting line-ups since taking over the hotseat a month ago and kept the striker on the bench at Villa Park despite leading scorer Marouane Chamakh’s suspension.
Pulis said this week he was not sure Gayle was ready for Premier League football but he gave the 23-year-old the final 18 minutes at Villa Park to stake his claim.
And with three minutes of injury time ticking down, Gayle picked up the ball on the left, beat Fabian Delph and curled a superb shot into the top corner to earn Palace a 1-0 victory.
Pulis said: “It’s a fantastic strike. He can do that and there was no one more pleased than myself to see it go in.
“It’s the same with Johnny Parr at left-back, I haven’t seen a lot of certain players. I’m a manager that picks a team and, if you’re in that team, it’s more difficult to get out of the team, that’s the way I’ve always managed.
“Sometimes for the people who haven’t started, it’s difficult to get that run of games, especially if the team does all right. Apart from the Newcastle game, the team has done exceptionally well.”
The victory lifted Palace out of the relegation zone and Pulis felt it was deserved.
He said: “It was a significant result in respect of the Newcastle result (a 3-0 defeat). We got back to basics and made it very difficult for people to get in certain areas.”
“The keeper made a wonderful save off Bannan and I thought Puncheon had two great opportunities as well so we created the chances.
Villa have now lost four games in a row and no team in the Premier League has a worse home record.
Boss Paul Lambert said: “It’s tough to take.
“There was a lot of endeavour, a lot of hard work, but not much creativity and we were hit with a classic counter-attack.”
ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Baker, Luna (Bacuna 67), Albrighton, El Ahmadi, Delph, Weimann (Tonev 87), Kozak (Bowery 77), Agbonlahor.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Ward, Jedinak, Bolasie, Bannan (Moxey 86), Puncheon (Jonathan Williams 65), Jerome (Gayle 72).
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).
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