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Jason Puncheon's second-half strike handed Tony Pulis a valuable win against his former club as Crystal Palace beat Stoke City 1-0 at Selhurst Park.
Having missed from the penalty spot in Palace's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, Ouncheon made the most of a mistake from Stoke winger Oussama Assaidi in the 51st minute to fire low into the net and hand the home side their first win in four Barclays Premier League matches.
Pulis’s side were bottom of the table on Saturday morning and climb out of the relegation zone and up to 16th with this victory. The ex-Stoke manager, who spent 10 years at the Britannia Stadium over two spells before leaving at the end of last season, was given a fine reception from both sets of fans as he emerged from the tunnel for the start of the match. Stoke are winless in five Barclays Premier League matches, leaving them two points above the South London side.
Both sides made one change from their previous outings. Palace brought in Adlene Guediora for Cameron Jerome, who is on loan from Stoke and was ineligible against his parent club, while Assaidi returned at the expense of Marko Arnautovic for Stoke.
In the first half, clear opportunities were few. Joel Ward headed Yannick Bolasie's cross wide in the fifth minute, before Marc Wilson's downward header was brilliantly tipped round the post by Julian Speroni 10 minutes later.
Charlie Adam went close for the away side in the opening minute of the second half, collecting Jon Walters' cushioned header and beating Damien Delaney before firing a right-footed shot a yard wide of the post from the edge of the area.
Five minutes later the Eagles moved in front as Puncheon capitalised on Assaidi's error. The Moroccan did well to track the run of Adrian Mariappa and regain possession, only to gift the ball straight to Puncheon, who made space for himself before firing low across Jack Butland and inside the left-hand upright.
The Potters midfielder Adam fizzed an effort narrowly wide from 30 yards in the 63rd minute, while substitute Stephen Ireland fired a first-time volley over the crossbar from a tight angle.
Pulis’ side appeared content to sit back and hold on to their lead as Stoke struggled to create any clear goalscoring opportunites, with Peter Crouch curling a shot well wide of Speroni's goal from 20 yards.
Palace were only denied a second by some heroic goalkeeping from Butland six minutes from time, first denying Ward, before jumping to his feet to block Puncheon's follow-up and somehow smothering substitute Stuart O'Keefe's rebound.
There was still time for Butland to deny Puncheon in stoppage time, but in the end it mattered little as the home side held on to seal a crucial three points in their fight to avoid the drop.
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis: "The run-in now, with 16 games to go, we've given ourselves a chance from not having a chance but we can't get carried away.
"Puncheon is a good player and people miss penalties. People might say 'not by that much', but Punch has to get over it and there were no problems.
"It was a wonderful reception from the Stoke supporters and I thank them very much. We had a wonderful 10 years together. My wife and daughters were Stoke supporters for 10 years so it was difficult for everybody but the main thing was the three points and I hope and pray to be able to go back to Stoke with Palace next season."
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "We huffed and puffed a bit and tried to force the issue but made it difficult for ourselves by conceding a poor goal and that's been the case of late and it's something we need to take out of our game.
"Once they got the first goal, in a game that lacked quality, that was going to be key to winning the game and Palace were able to get that through poor defending.
"We need to nip that in the bud and we gave them a helping hand and they were able to get people behind the ball and we didn't have the guile or purpose to create the chances."
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