Crystal Palace hitman Gayle blows the opposition away just as the Premier League comes to end

Wimbledon Guardian: Celebration time: Dwight Gayle and his team-mates enjoy the new-found camaraderie after his goal against Fulham Celebration time: Dwight Gayle and his team-mates enjoy the new-found camaraderie after his goal against Fulham

Crystal Palace hitman Dwight Gayle has left Selhurst Park for the summer carrying the club's golden boot.

The 23-year-old, an Ian Holloway signing last summer, banged in four goals in the final week of the Premier League season to take his tally to eight in all competitions, surpassing Jason Puncheon (six) and Marouane Chamakh (five).

Gayle put the Eagles 1-0 up against Fulham with a poacher's goal, sticking his foot out to redirect Joel Ward’s goal-bound shot into the net.

He followed it with a sublime free-kick just seven minutes from time to put Palace in front again at 2-1.

However, Chris David levelled on the stroke of full time to add to Cauley Woodrow's strike earlier in the second half.

“I just gambled really and luckily it landed on my toe,” said Gayle about his first strike.

“For the second I just claimed the free-kick - normally it is [Jason] Puncheon and Mile [Jedinak] but I was confident after the last few goals and I just wanted to take it.

“I haven’t been practising free-kicks in training to be honest, not recently. At the start of the season, I was, but lately I haven’t so it was just one of those lucky ones."

Wimbledon Guardian:

Sublime: Dwight Gayle's free-kick puts Palace ahead once again at Fulham

Click here for the full picture gallery from Fulham v Crystal Palace - are you among the Eagles fans enjoying the end of season party?

He added: “Fulham scored a great equaliser but it is very frustrating conceding in the last minute.

"The most important thing though this season was to stay up and we have done that so it’s been successful.”

The end of the season has been a whirlwind for Gayle as the striker - who was playing non-League football less than two years ago - made his first start at Fulham since the January FA Cup win at West Brom.

And the season has come to an end just when Gayle has found his form, but the timing has not upset him.

“I wouldn’t say gutted, it is important to get the goals and hopefully I can crack on next season," he said.

“I wasn’t starting this season but the gaffer [Tony Pulis] has done fantastic and given me my chance at the end of the season and I am just happy with that.

“The past two years have been surreal, progressing so quickly through the leagues. It’s fantastic.”

Gayle hit the headlines last week when his double strike in the final 10 minutes effectively ended Liverpool’s title dreams in front of a global TV audience, while highlighting the squad ethic of the Eagles.

He said: “You cannot be overly confident of coming back when you come on at 3-0 down. But the team done fantastic and it’s a nice way to finish the season.

“It’s been fantastic to be part of the squad and the second half of the season has been unbelievable.

"It feels nice to be part of a squad rather than before, as we were more individuals at the start of the season, which was probably why we were not getting the results."

He added: “When the gaffer first came in he looked at the squad, saw what we had, what we needed and then, the most important thing, brought everyone together - we’ve all joined and pushed together at the end of the season.”

 

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