Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0: Brilliant Andros Townsend free-kick earns Toon vital win

“We were professional, made it hard for Newcastle and in the first half we were the better team and should have gone in at half-time one up.”

Pardew’s pursuit of improvement even saw him invite England’s rugby union coach, Eddie Jones, to give a motivational speech to the Palace players last week.

And the FA Cup finalists did made a positive start, with Jason Puncheon sending a volley across the face of the goal from a good position.

Jamaal Lascelles also produced a magnifi ent saving tackle to prevent Connor Wickham racing clear.

Newcastle’s best early effort at a tense, sold out St James’ Park was a well-struck Georginio Wijnaldum shot which Wayne Hennessey gathered as he dived to his right.

Palace, though, were the more progressive side in the opening half.

Newcastle keeper Darlow had to beat out a stinging effort from Cabaye.

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