A scrappy and lacklustre affair at St James' Park went the way of Newcastle as a late headed goal from substitute Mikel Merino ensured the three points remained on Tyneside. 

By 90Min
October 21, 2017

A scrappy and lacklustre affair at St James' Park went the way of Newcastle as a late headed goal from substitute Mikel Merino ensured the three points remained on Tyneside. 

Merino's first goal for Newcastle was a moment of ecstasy for the home supporters in a game largely devoid of any potency in attack, as Roy Hodgson's side were left devastated as they  remain in search of their first goal and points away from home in the league this season.

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Newcastle shared in the majority of possession in the open stages, although both sides struggled to settle early on. The game's early entertainment centred around the return of three pantomime villains for the St James' Park faithful as Andros Townsend, Patrick van Aanholt and Yohan Cabaye all took to the field for the Eagles - with a chorus of boos accompanying their every touch.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the opening 30 minutes, as possession was traded in the middle third with little goal-mouth action for either keeper to contend with, although the Magpies' Matt Richie and the Eagles' Wilfried Zaha were the two players who looked the most likely for their respective sides.

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In a first-half largely devoid of anything to cheer about, a moment of madness from Cabaye sent the home crowd into a state of fury as the Frenchman's reckless scissor challenge on DeAndre Yedlin could have easily seen him sent off as he went straight through the defender, a lucky escape for the midfielder. 

The last ten minutes of the first period offered a slight change in pace as chances fell for both sides, first from Newcastle's Christian Atsu whose powerful run ended with his shot smashing into the side-netting after being nudged wide by Scott Dann. Whilst Zaha's header at the far post was agonisingly pulled wide. 

Crystal Palace returned in the second-half with renewed intent as they immediately asserted their dominance in possession - albeit with little penetration into the penalty box - as the Magpies clearly lacked ideas and struggled to even locate their teammates.

Despite the Eagles dominance, the lack of an out-and-out striker proved decisive as countless deliveries into the box by their wide players were met only by Newcastle defenders who were able to clear with ease. 

The Eagles; best chance of the second period came in the 66th minute when Townsend was gifted possession in the attacking half, with his cut-back onto his left foot in the penalty box resulting in a curling effort which was a few agonising yards over the crossbar. 

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The Magpies woes at St James' Park were realised when their first shot on target was only recorded in the 72nd minute after Mamadou Sakho's weak clearance fell to substitute Mohamed Diame whose strike from 20-yards out finally called Julian Speroni into action.

The effort finally brought the Magpies out of their shells, as a driving effort from Shelvey followed closely after, requiring an instinctive body save by Speroni. With the crowd up and about, Newcastle found their way into the lead in the most simplest of ways.

An out-swinging corner delivered by Ritchie was met by an unmarked Merino at the front post and headed home under the crossbar, sending the Newcastle faithful into a frenzy after the clash looked destined to end with a stalemate. 

The win sends Newcastle up to 14th in the table, with a trip to mid-table rivals Burnley coming next weekend. 

Whilst Crystal Palace - still searching for their first away win this season - must now turn their attention to their mid-week League Cup meeting with Bristol City before hosting West Ham in the league next weekend. 

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