Newcastle President Yasir Al-Rumayyan met with the Queen this week. Proof, if necessary, that the club’s new Saudi-led regime has friends in high places.
But this point in the Palace owes it all to His Majesty Callum Wilson. The genius striker has long masked his team’s shortcomings in other parts of the park, and a boss change hasn’t changed that dependency for now.
Graeme Jones, caretaker after the firing of Steve Bruce, would have taken a draw before kick-off. And he would certainly have settled for a point in the 87th minute, when Christian Benteke appeared to have led his second of the game. The VAR intervened, correctly, and Newcastle endured a result that it probably did not deserve.
Newcastle United won a point in their first game since Steve Bruce’s sacking at Palace
Callum Wilson scored an impressive aerial kick to take a Selhurst Park point on Saturday
The Newcastle forward celebrates after equaling his team’s goals against Crystal Palace
Christian Benteke thought he had won it for the Palace late with a header goal
However, the VAR intervened to disallow the goal after a foul on Ciaran Clark in preparation.
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher (Mateta), Milivojevic (Schlupp), Olise (Zaha), McArthur; Édouard, Benteke
Unused Subs: Butland, Ayew, Clyne, Hughes, Kouyate, Tomkins
Top Scorer: Benteke (56)
Admonished: Andersen, Ward, Benteke
Coach: Patrick Vieira
Newcastle (3-4-2-1): Darlow; Manquillo, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Saint-Maximin (Joelinton), Longstaff (Willock), Hayden, Fraser (Almiron); Wilson.
Unused Subs: Gillespie, Gayle, Hendrick, Lewis, Murphy, Schar
Top Scorer: Wilson (65)
Warned: Wilson, Lascelles, Joelinton, Ritchie
Coach: Graeme Jones
For that, they have Wilson and his impressive second-half EQ to thank. It was always like this. Of all those currently on the books, perhaps only he and Allan Saint-Maximin have a future beyond phase one of the Saudi reconstruction. However, it will be a work of reconstruction on this evidence.
For Newcastle to persist with the same instructions as under Bruce and expect a different outcome would have been insane, as the often-used cliche goes. But it is also true.
This was certainly different. An unsightly and always so gradual improvement, if you like. Less ball but more solid with him in the first half, it was a throwback to the early days of Rafa Benítez and his approach of suffocating an opponent.
It meant that Palace, despite seeing 80 percent possession before the break, finished with an expected fewer goals than Newcastle.
Both sides, in effect, had a chance to stand out. Newcastle came first when Wilson nodded towards Emil Krafth and his hook was blocked on the line by Marc Guehi. If it had been Krafth nodding for Wilson, then the outcome might have been different.
At the other end, Benteke headed off the post in what should have served as a warning for Newcastle, given the ease with which he took off at the far post.
It was one they ignored, and in the 56th minute, Benteke again intimidated the visiting center-backs and climbed over Ciaran Clark to catch a glimpse of the bottom corner of Tyrick Mitchell’s pitch.
The scorer then headed off the crossbar shortly after time when Newcastle threatened his usual collapse.
Benteke had put the Palace ahead in a day in which the Belgian had many neglected opportunities
The Palace forward celebrates after overtaking the hosts against their Premier League rivals
Graeme Jones barks his instructions in his first game in charge as interim manager
But this was a game plan based on the hope that Wilson would have a chance. Not that you would have called it an opportunity when the ball fell towards him back to the goal at 10 yards in the 63rd minute. XG’s boffins weren’t screaming a goal.
Wilson, however, has long been turning water into wine and it was the Toon Army’s toast when his instinctive overhead kick found the top corner.
It was a respite, but it seemed certain they would waste as Palace dominated in the final stages and Benteke opened wide as he entered the arc.
Allan Saint-Maximin falls after contesting an aerial ball against Marc Guehi
The two dugouts collide after a meeting between Wilson and Palace defender Joel Ward
Palace captain Luka Milivojevic lands a hard tackle on Isaac Hayden in the first half
The Belgian thought he had his winner, and did it all inside Selhurst Park, too, when he then headed unmarked from a corner with three minutes remaining. However, a VAR check found that Guehi had thrown Clark to the ground. No goal.
Palace, then, is left with a win this season with Patrick Vieira. Newcastle, meanwhile, have not won and are second from the bottom.
At least there were signs of a renewed spirit. But they will need much more than that if they want to survive this season.