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Strange Hodgson decision was actually 58th minute masterstroke for Palace vs Newcastle - Our View

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When Wilfried Zaha was forced off against Newcastle last night, we and, presumably, many others were crying out to see Jean-Philippe Mateta or Christian Benteke.

At that point, the Eagles were launching hopeless long balls up to the Ivorian and Michy Batshuayi, so a target man was needed.

So, when Roy Hodgson chose to bring on Andros Townsend in the 58th minute, a few eyebrows around south London might’ve been raised.

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However, it was actually a great decision. Why?

Well, just five minutes later, Steve Bruce made his own switch when bringing Allan Saint-Maximin onto the field, so Townsend’s presence ahead of Clyne suddenly became extremely necessary.

Of course, Hodgson cannot predict the future, but he was surely expecting the 23-year-old to enter the fray at some point.

Just like our very own Zaha, the Frenchman can terrorise defenders when one-on-one, so immediately, we feared for Nathaniel Clyne – as solid as he has been.

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Newcastle’s No.10 was, unsurprisingly, tricky. WhoScored shows he completed three dribbles in just 27 minutes, which was the third-most of any player on the pitch.

However, he never truly threatened Vicente Guaita’s goal, thanks to Townsend doubling up on him with Clyne down that flank.

The ex-Magpies forward won two tackles, and also won two freekicks, when up against the flamboyant trickster as WhoScored shows.

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We’ll never know how Clyne would’ve fared alone against Saint-Maximin.

However, there’s no denying that he will have been grateful for Townsend’s efforts back in that away dressing room after full-time.

It was a move that helped the south Londoners see out the victory, and Hodgson deserves credit for ensuring Clyne was not left isolated.

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