Yesterday’s defeat left an increasing sense of panic hanging over Villa Park.
To say the play from the home side was negative in the first half is something of an understatement and the only mercy was that the visitors seemed to lack any real attacking threat.
After thirty-nine minutes, Kozak got his head to a floating free-kick from Albrighton, forcing the first save of the day from Speroni.
Delph then proved wasteful, slicing a left-footed effort well wide from thirty yards out.
As the half neared its end, El Ahmadi’s shot from twenty yards sailed over for a corner and hopes were high as Kozak flicked Albrighton’s shot on for Agbonlahor but the Villa veteran headed it just over before the whistle blew for half time.
Inspired by Bolasie and Jedinak, the visiting team looked more lively after the break.
Guzan was called into action, making two super saves, first from Puncheon then pushing former Villan Bannan’s shot onto the post.
Villa’s first real chance of the half came after fifty-four minutes when Delph picked out Weimann in the area, only for the Austrian to volley tamely at Speroni.
For the remainder of the second half, the home side struggled to break down the Eagles but had a chance to break the deadlock minutes from time through Bowery’s header but Speroni was not to be beaten and tipped the ball over.
As the game seemed destined to end in stalemate, substitute Gayle was sent down the left by Moxey and was able to cut inside Delph to shoot into the far corner. It seemed the Villans were given a taste of their own medicine, having been caught out by a classic counter-attack.
Gayle’s last-gasp winner led to Palace’s second away win of the season and was enough to send the Eagles soaring out of the drop-zone. Conversely, it meant Villa’s fourth successive defeat.
Lambert left the pitch to a chorus of boos and Weimann became involved in an altercation with fans as he made his exit.
There can be no doubt that the heat is rising in B6, meaning Saturday’s game against Swansea City takes on added significance for Lambert and his Lions.
Speaking post-match about how he can dig his team out of its current rut, Lambert said:
“You’ve got to – there’s no other way to approach it other than looking up and grabbing it and taking it on.
If you’re going to wilt then it will take you under, you have to meet it head on and that’s what we’ll try and do.”
While the Scot will be hoping for a friendly reception on Saturday, he had enough sense not to attack the Villa boo boys, saying, “You can’t criticise the supporters for what they’ve given ourselves since we came to the club.”