Roy Hodgson enjoys back-to-back wins as Crystal Palace ease clear of drop zone

Damian Spellman, PA
·3-min read

Roy Hodgson will head for Leeds next Monday evening bolstered by the back-to-back victories which have eased Crystal Palace clear of the Premier League drop zone.

The Palace boss saw his side come from behind to win 2-1 at Newcastle on Tuesday night three days after emerging from their home clash with Wolves with all three points to ease themselves 15 clear of the bottom three.

Asked if the pressure had receded, Hodgson said: “There’s less pressure until Monday I’m afraid, that’s the truthful answer to it.

Newcastle United v Crystal Palace – Premier League – St. James’s Park
Jairo Riedewald, right, scored Palace’s equaliser (Jon Super/PA)

“But it is nice to go into the game against Leeds six points better off than we were last Friday because then facing Wolves and facing a trip to Newcastle and then a trip to Leeds, you’re thinking, ‘This could be a very, very difficult spell for us’.

“But to get six points from the first two of those games is obviously a relief, I suppose – although to use the word ‘relief’ suggests I was feeling undue pressure about the results of those games or not believing that we had the capacity or ability to get results, but that wouldn’t be true.”

Newcastle could hardly have got off to a better start when Jonjo Shelvey fired them ahead with just 71 seconds on the clock, but although they had the better of the game, particularly after the break, they were made to pay for defensive frailty twice within four first-half minutes.

Jairo Riedewald blasted the visitors level from 25 yards after being allowed to run onto a half-clearance, and Gary Cahill headed them to victory after losing marker Fabian Schar to meet Eberechi Eze’s free-kick, the 35-year-old defender’s first league goal since April 2017.

Newcastle United v Crystal Palace – Premier League – St. James’s Park
Gary Cahill’s headed goal sealed the win for the visitors (Lee Smith/PA)

Hodgson said with a smile: “I’m really pleased for him and pleased for the team, of course. It doesn’t make a lot of difference whether he’s 35, 25 or 15, the important thing is that he did the job.”

Andros Townsend should have sealed victory in the 90th minute, but somehow fired over an open goal and fellow substitute Andy Carroll perhaps might have made him pay, but directed an injury-time header straight at keeper Vicente Guaita.

Magpies head coach Steve Bruce was a disappointed man as his hopes of successive league wins after Saturday’s impressive display at Everton were dashed by a failure to make the most of their first-half chances.

He said: “That’s the most disappointing thing because you know you’re not going to get a hatful in the second half, especially with Crystal Palace having a lead to defend.

Newcastle United v Crystal Palace – Premier League – St. James’s Park
Steve Bruce called on his players to be more clinical following the defeat to Palace (Stu Foster/PA)

“You know they’re going to defend that little bit deeper and we found it a struggle to create in the second half.

“But the first half chances we had, really we’ve got to be a bit more clinical like they were.”

Newcastle, who have now lost six times at home in the league this season and remain eight points above 18th-placed Fulham, were also punished for their defensive lapses.

Bruce said: “At this level, those little mistakes cost you.”

Hodgson’s evening was marred by an injury to star man Wilfried Zaha which will be assessed on his return to London.