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Dwight Gayle strike at West Ham could galvanise Crystal Palace

Dwight Gayle might have scored the most important goal of Crystal Palace's season in Saturday's 2-2 draw at West Ham.

The underused forward came off the bench and capitalised on a defensive mix-up to slot home a late equaliser and earn the Eagles a precious point.

It was a point that no-one had expected to get at a rampant West Ham, who are going for a Champions League spot while Alan Pardew's men try desperately to inch themselves away from the relegation zone.

Gayle's goal gives the side hope that this horrible run, which now stretches to 14 games without a win, can come to an end.

There were plenty of positives from the point at Upton Park but plenty of questions too. Why does Pardew persist with Yannick Bolasie up front on his own when the Congo international is clearly more effective out wide? Once he was switched there in the second half, he gave England hopeful Aaron Cresswell a torrid time.

And why doesn't Gayle start more often? He may not offer much more than goals in his all-round game but right now Palace need goals ... and points.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Wayne Hennessey, 7 -- Perhaps harshly criticised for letting in Dimitri Payet's first half free-kick and might have had a better chance of saving it if he hadn't shifted his weight the wrong way as the kick was taken. But it was a superb set piece and aside from that, the Welshman was fairly solid.

DF Joel Ward, 6 -- Given the unenviable task of marking Payet and struggled with Frenchman at times, but looked more confident going forward than he has done in recent weeks.

DF Scott Dann, 8 -- Arguably should have done better with a clearance that led to Manuel Lanzini's equaliser but apart from that, he had a faultless performance at the back and looked as classy as ever on the ball.

DF Damien Delaney, 7 -- Opened the scoring with a cheeky header at the back post and had a solid game, keeping Diafra Sakho quiet.

DF Pape Soaure, 6 -- Still struggles to find consistency and was caught out at times but did put in one superb deep cross in the first half that Dann headed wide.

MF Mile Jedinak, 7 -- Spent more time covering space and chasing down the ball than he did using it, but shackled Mark Noble well.

MF Joe Ledley, 6 -- The game passed the Welshman by and he was often chasing shadows in the middle of the park. Was taken off midway through the second half.

MF Jason Puncheon, 8 -- Palace have missed Puncheon massively in the centre and he offered a calmness and creativity on the ball not seen for a while. Crucially, he also offered some bite and passion. Geeing his teammates up after chasing down a loose ball had the away fans roaring in support.

MF Wilfried Zaha, 6 -- Endured a frustrating opening 45 minutes and was taken off at half time for Gayle, but it's not clear whether that was tactical or due to injury.

MF Bakary Sako, 6 -- Moved from the left wing to the right and back to the left but couldn't settle on either flank. Probably should have scored when Adrian kicked straight to him but saw his effort blocked on the line by Cresswell.

MF Yannick Bolasie, 8 -- Cut a frustrated figure in the first half as a lone striker but when he was moved out wide after the break, he caused the West Ham backline all sorts of problems.

Substitutes:

FW Dwight Gayle, 7 -- A half time substitute for Zaha and scored a precious goal with 15 minutes left. Didn't really offer much else though.

Fraizer Campbell, N/R -- Plenty of effort for the last 20 minutes from the busy striker after being brought on for Ledley.