5:01pm Sunday 11th May 2014
By Paul Green
Dwight Gayle continued his late season scoring spree with both of his side’s goals as Crystal Palace ended the campaign with a 2-2 draw at Fulham.
Gayle, who scored a brace in Monday’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool, applied a toe poke to Joel Ward’s 28th minute goal-bound shot.
Cauley Woodrow drew the hosts back on terms just after the hour but Gayle thought he had won it with a spectacular 84th minute free-kick.
However, substitute Chris David had other ideas and his long range injury time strike ensured the honours were shared in Fulham’s final game of their 13-year Premier League spell.
There were three changes from Monday’s memorable 3-3 draw with Liverpool, with substitute from that night and double goal hero Gayle getting a start.
Wayne Hennessey made his debut in goal and Tom Ince began what could well be his final game have joined on loan from Blackpool in January until the end of this season.
Julian Speroni, Jason Puncheon and Kagisho Dikgacoi were the trio to make way and had to settle instead for places on the bench.
Ince saw an angled drive fly about a foot wide of the post inside the opening two minutes, while Hennessey's first save as a Palace keeper sees him put behind Alexander Kacanilklic's well struck shot for a corner.
Yannick Biolasie fired wide after a bit of trickery from the winger inside the box and at the other end Damien Delaney came to the rescue to block Woodrow’s effort at the expense of a corner.
Fulham should have scored when Hugo Rodallega just failed to connect with substitute David's cross and then Steve Sidwell's folllow up effort blocked by Delaney.
Only the legs of David Stockdale denied Bolasie but there was nothing the Fulham stopper could do to keep out Gayle when he struck out a leg to apply the final touch to Ward’s 28th minute goal-bound shot.
Kieran Richardson blasted a free-kick harmlessly over, much to the obvious amusement of the travelling fans behind the goal where the ball landed.
Scott Dann’s header was well saved by Stockdale and Sidwell’s volley was even further from finding the target than Richardson’s earlier free-kick.
Hennessey pulled off a top class save on the stroke of half-time to tip behind Fernando Amorebieta's header at the back post but it was Palace who went at the midway point with their noses in front.
Ward saw a low shot easily saved by Stockdale and then Marouane Chamakh fired into the side-netting as the Eagles began the second period brightly.
The unmarked Rodallega somehow fails to make it 1-1 with a free header that drifted wide via the post and moments later David volleyed over as Fulham enjoyed a spell of pressure.
However, they were back on terms just after the hour when Rodallega, with his back to goal, played in Woodrow, whoses curling shot from inside the box flew past Hennessey to make it all square.
Scott Parker app;lied a vital touch to put behind Chamakh’s pass which looked to be finding an unmarked Gayle.
Wilson took a dramatic tumble in the box while trying to beat Delaney, his claims for a penalty rightly ignored as there was little or no contact from the Palace defender.
Hennessey got down low to gather David’s 81st minute attempt but Palace were awarded a free-kick just outside the box three minutes later after Scott Parker tripped up Glenn Murray.
Gayle stepped up to take the set piece and capped a memorable week by firing his effort beyond the Fulham wall and Stockdale to restore the Eagles’ advantage.
Murray was only denied by the bar in the 90th minute after being played in by Puncheon with Gayle unable to complete his hat-trick from the loose ball.
But hopes of a final day victory were denied in stoppage time as David’s curling shot from outside of the box flew over Hennesey to rescue a point for the hosts on the day they said goodbye to the top flight, even though Gayle could have won it with the last kick of the game.
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Fulham: Hennessey, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Bolasie, Jedinak (Dikgacoi 59), Ledley, Ince (Puncheon 71), Chamakh (Murray 73), Gayle. Suns not used: Speroni, O’Keefe, Gabbidon, Jerome. Att: 24,447.
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