Great save in crunch match de­cides it

CityPress - - Sport -

Apenalty save from Karl Dar­low en­sured An­dros Townsend’s su­perb free kick was enough for New­cas­tle to se­cure a cru­cial 1-0 win against Crys­tal Palace at St James’ Park yes­ter­day.

The crunch clash was lack­ing in any real qual­ity un­til Townsend, a re­ported £12 mil­lion (R249 mil­lion) sign­ing in Jan­uary, pro­duced a stun­ning free kick from 20 yards in the 58th minute that flew into the top-left cor­ner.

The drama con­tin­ued 12 min­utes later as New­cas­tle goal­keeper Karl Dar­low kept out for­mer Mag­pie Yo­han Cabaye’s penalty af­ter Moussa Sis­soko han­dled in­side the area.

New­cas­tle’s eighth win of the sea­son saw them climb out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone, with all eyes now turn­ing to Nor­wich’s trip to Arse­nal later.

In a must-win game for New­cas­tle, the nerves could be felt all around the ground as the hosts tried to as­sert them­selves early on the FA Cup finalists.

Those nerves were com­pounded by a reck­less chal­lenge from Pa­trick Mbe­mba, who left ref­eree Mike Dean with no op­tion but to dish out a yel­low card in the fifth minute.

Crys­tal Palace were able to at­tack with wor­ry­ing ease in the open­ing quar­ter, with only a phe­nom­e­nal last-ditch tackle from Ja­mal Lascelles pre­vent­ing Con­nor Wick­ham from a one-onone op­por­tu­nity deep in­side the area.

New­cas­tle re­mained on the back foot for much of the firsthalf, which irked the tetchy home sup­port­ers who were re­lieved to see Dar­low make a solid stop to deny Cabaye from a tight an­gle.

Palace des­per­ately tried to atone for the missed op­por­tu­nity and force a late equaliser, but New­cas­tle stood firm to col­lect a price­less three points in their pur­suit of Pre­mier League safety.

Absa Premier­ship Re­sults: Golden Ar­rows 1-0 Free State Stars, 3pm); Polok­wane City 0-0 Black Aces

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