Fulham 2-2 Crystal Palace: Youngsters provide Whites glimpse of hope for Championship
Dwight Gayle picked up a brace for Crystal Palace but relegated Fulham received a glimmer of hope as a worldly goal from young Chris David in stoppage time earned the Cottagers a point before heading down.
A 13-year Premier League run comes to an end at Craven Cottage, but the Championship will see plenty of David and fellow goalscorer Cauley Woodrow as they look to work their way back up.
The visitors, on the other hand, get a point to complete a remarkable turnaround under Tony Pulis, finishing in 11th position after being in the relegation zone for much of the season’s first half.
Crystal Palace began quickly, but the first chance of the match fell to Fulham against the run of play in the sixth minute when Alex Kacaniklic lashed at goal powerfully off a corner but Wayne Hennessey saved well.
They had another on 15 minutes when young Cauley Woodrow had a go, another powerful effort looking to clean up a mess, but it was expertly blocked by David Delaney.
The chances got Fulham stuck in, and they began to steal more of the possession and pegged Palace back.
Unfortunately, the home side were forced into an early change, as an earlier yellow-card challenge from Marouane Chamakh forced Kacaniklic off with an injury in just the 23rd minute, replaced by youngster Chris David.
They continued to press, and Hugo Rodallega had a close effort saved just before the half-hour mark as Fulham saw up to 70% of possession.
Palace had a chance on a break, as Gayle slotted in Yannick Bolaise but David Stockdale made an expert one-on-one save.
But Gayle would make good moments later off the corner, as a shot from Joel Ward powered in and found the foot of an onsides Gayle who tapped past Stockdale for the lead.
Fulham continued to come close on the other end, when Fernando Amorebieta’s header came in just before the break but they couldn’t equalize with Hennessey in fine form and walling off the chance.
After the halftime break, Fulham continued to search for a goal. Felix Magath brought on super-sub Ashkan Dejagah, and they came desperately close to scoring soon after as Hugo Rodallega clipped the post and out in the 54th minute. More pressure a minute later ended with Chris David skying over.
The pressure eventually got to Palace, as Fulham found their equalizer. With Hugo Rodallega on the ball in the box but with his back to the goal and no immediate options, he found Woodrow in space at a tight angle, and he finished into the far corner.
It’s a nice bit of promise for Fulham going forward into the Championship, as they will likely get a heavy dose of the 19-year-old up front next year.
As the home side pressed for a winner, they shouted for a penalty on twenty minutes to go but referee Kevin Friend waved off Chris David and replays showed he should have been booked for a shockingly embarrassing dive.
In the 83rd minute, with both sides poking and prodding at the other for a winner, Scott Parker committed a silly foul with Palace flooding towards the box. Dwight Gayle took the free kick, and he produced a howitzer through the wall and past Stockdale for the winner.
Gayle nearly had himself an accidental hat-trick as time ticked town, as a shot from Murray clattered the bar, and the powerful ricochet smacked Gayle at close range, but the unintended attempt went just wide with Stockdale on the ground.
Fulham – Stockdale; Zverotic (Dejagah 50'), Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta; Kacaniklic (David 23'), Parker, Sidwell, Richardson (Tunnicliffe 79'); Woodrow, Rodallega.
Goals - Woodrow 61', David 90+3'
Crystal Palace – Hennessey; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Bolasie, Jedinak (Dikgacoi 59'), Ledley, Ince (Puncheon 72'); Chamakh (Murray 74'), Gayle.
Goals - Gayle 28', 84'