Premier League: Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis emerges victorious over Stoke
Tony Pulis masterminded a 1-0 victory over his former club Stoke as Crystal Palace moved out of the bottom three.
By Pete Hall: @Pistolpeteh86
Last Updated: 18/01/14 6:36pm
Tony Pulis masterminded a 1-0 victory over his former club Stoke as Crystal Palace moved out of the bottom three of the Premier League.
All the attention was on Pulis as he tries to guide his new side to safety, and with Stoke also languishing in the bottom half of the table, it was a very tense afternoon.
However, Jason Puncheon's strike early in the second half settled the home side down, and opened the game up somewhat.
But Palace held on, and the result sees the Eagles not only move off the foot of the table, but out of the relegation zone. Stoke slip to 13th.
In what was in truth a very poor first half, Julian Speroni was the busier of the goalkeepers, with a fine scrambling save from a Marc Wilson header the only time either side really went close to an opening goal.
Yannick Bolasie's accurate cross brought the game's first chance. Marouane Chamakh could not contort to connect and that was enough of a distraction to unsettle the better-placed Joel Ward.
Ward's header drifted wide then, and despite the slight impediment from his team-mate, he will still feel he should have tested Jack Butland.
Danny Gabbidon's miscued clearance had Speroni catching breath for half a second, but the ball drifted safely behind.
Jonathan Parr's incisive ball set Bolasie free down the left again, but this time there was no final ball.
Marc Wilson nodded Stoke's first chance from a well-worked Charlie Adam free-kick, only for Speroni to parry round the post.
Adam threatened with a pinpoint lofted ball into the area for Jonathan Walters, but the Stoke midfielder was so shocked he lost his footing and failed to power into the header, gifting Speroni an easy save.
Puncheon's excellently taken goal after poor defending from Stoke's Oussama Assaidi livened the game up just after the interval.
After his woeful penalty in last week's defeat at Tottenham, Puncheon's confidence needed a boost, and the 27-year-old, on-loan from Southampton, did really well to make room for the shot, before firing low into the bottom corner, through the legs of Ryan Shawcross.
The visitors were shocked into life, and several long-range attempts from Adam came mightily close to getting them back on level terms.
A curling Peter Crouch effort also whistled past the upright, but Speroni remained relatively untroubled in the Palace goal.
The home side really should have made the three points much more comfortable, and but for a string of excellent saves from Butland they would have done.
A stunning triple save in the dying moments thwarted the Eagles. Ward's deflected first attempt was brilliantly kept out by the young keeper, before he get up to block twice more to keep his side in the game.
Another fine stop late on from a close-range Puncheon effort denied the Eagles once again, but Pulis' new side held on for a vital win, on what would have been an emotional day for the former Potters boss.