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Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle plunders five in reserves rout

Selhurst Park - Crystal Palace - 23/02/2014

Dwight Gayle has been much maligned during his maiden campaign at Selhurst Park but looked to prove his credentials in a 6-0 win over Brentford.

Crystal Palace flop Dwight Gayle gave the perfect response to his critics on Tuesday afternoon, as he netted a stunning five goals in the south-east London under-21 side's 6-0 thrashing of Brentford.

Gayle, who has endured an injury-hit debut season in the top flight and manager Tony Pulis questioned former chief Ian Holloway's decision to fork out a club-record fee for the ex-Peterborough man. 

The 23-year-old was playing non-league football as recently as 2012 and has only managed three Premier League goals all season, with an FA Cup goal at West Bromwich Albion to boot.

Palace's lack of firepower has been one of the most pertinent reasons behind their struggles this campaign, having struck just 23 times this season.

But Gayle, who was stepping up his rehabilitation from an ankle injury, may be about to boost Pulis and his side's survival prospects after scoring a brilliant quintet in the club's second-string side.

Gayle played alongside Glenn Murray, who himself has only just returned from an injury layoff, up front against the Bees and opened the scoring after just six minutes with a well-placed free-kick.

His second was all about composure as he clinically dispatched a ball into his path before fellow first-teamer Paddy McCarthy got in on the act with the third.

Palace made it four just before the interval as Gayle completed his hat-trick by racing onto Murray's intelligent flick and lobbing the besieged Brentford goalkeeper with aplomb.

Gayle would only play a further 10 minutes in the second half, with Palace staff seeking to prevent a recurrence of his injury but he still managed to notch two more.

Murray's cross led to a simple tap-in and his fifth came immediately from kick off as he robbed a defender, sprinted clear and saw his shot deflect into the corner.

After Pulis' thinly-veiled criticism of the striker, he responded by scoring a marvellous winner at Aston Villa to ease the Eagles' relegation worries. 

Pulis will now be hoping he can make a return to stave the lingering fears off for good in the final throes of the season. Today's evidence certainly suggests he is capable.

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