Alan Pardew celebrated his first game in charge as Palace boss by securing his side’s passage into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a convincing win over Dover Athletic.
The television cameras had arrived at the Crabble Athletic Ground hoping to record a famous cup upset by the Conference side but that was never on the cards as the Eagles controlled the game through, and a Scott Dann brace gave the visitors a comfortable lead going into half-time.
And after the break goals from Dwight Gayle and Kevin Doyle completed a professional job by adding the third for Pardew’s new men to book their place into the next round of the competition.
The new boss handed Glenn Murray his first appearance back in a Palace shirt after his loan spell at Reading and just 30 seconds after the kick-off he connected with a fine Wilfried Zaha cross from the left but Dover keeper Andrew Rafferty made a good diving save to deny him.
The striker was proving to be the Eagles’ main outlet in attack in the early stages and after he forced Rafferty in a low stop with a snap-shot, seconds later he once again got his head onto a Barry Bannan delivery and was fractions away from opening the scoring but the keeper managed to flick the ball around the post.
But after nine minutes of constant pressure the visitors did grab the opening goal. Zaha found time and space on the left and once gain aimed for Murray, who this time flicked the ball on for Dann who was lurking behind him to tap the ball home from close range.
With the all-important first goal in their pocket, Palace relaxed a little as Dover dug in to prevent the siege on their goal but on 32 minutes the defence was breached again by Dann when he met Bannan’s corner with a bullet header to score the second.
Having seen his fellow defender find the net, that may have inspired Joel Ward who let fly a couple of minutes later and Rafferty once again made a fine save to prevent the deflected effort from creeping into the bottom corner, and Dwight Gayle saw a half-volley flash over as an extremely one-sided first-half came to a close.
Incredibly Dann nearly netted a third six minutes after the restart when once again he was found by a Bannan corner but his header was straight at Rafferty, but on the hour mark Stuart O’Keefe could have wrapped things up for Palace when a great ball over the top from Gayle found Zaha who squared for the midfielder but he blazed over.
But halfway through the second half the tie was put to bed by Gayle when he drove home Palace’s third. The striker picked the ball up on the edge of the box and after a couple of step-overs he found the yard of space he needed the hammer the ball into the bottom corner and seal the victory with a quarter of the game to go.
And the gloss was put on the result three minutes from time with a fine flowing move. A another great ball by the impressive Bannan found Jerome Thomas on the left and he centred for fellow substitute Kevin Doyle who finished from a couple of yards out to score his first for the club.
O’Keefe nearly added a fifth in injury time when Thomas and Doyle linked up again to hand the midfielder a header a few yards out from goal but Rafferty ended his afternoon with another good save from point blank range.
Dover Athletic: Rafferty, Essam, Raggett (Nanetti 56), Orlu, Sterling, Bellamy (Wynter 69), Cogan, Deverdics, Payne, Murphy (Modeste 81). Subs not used: Hook, Francis, Reid, Hook, Lock.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, Bannan, Ledley (Mariappa 75), O’Keefe, Zaha, Gayle (Thomas 72), Murray (Doyle 46). Subs not used: Kettings, Hangeland, Guedioura, Puncheon.