MARK NOBLE hit the bullseye as he rescued a point for his injury-hit Hammers.
The West Ham skipper fell out of favour with frustrated Irons fans at the start of the season.
But he is back in their good books after a string of wholehearted displays in recent weeks.
And they loved him even more after he scored his 50th goal for the club with a penalty two minutes before the break.
It earned David Moyes’ depleted side a deserved draw against an in-form Palace team that had taken the lead through a Christian Benteke header.
But with nine players sidelined this was a positive result for Moyes, who has now earned 17 points from a possible last 30 to steer the Hammers away from trouble.
The Scot also saw new loan signing Joao Mario turn in a promising display in midfield, which bodes well for the future.
The Portuguese, signed from Inter Milan with a view to a £40million permanent move in the summer, looked like he will have no trouble adjusting to life in the English top flight.
Palace also look like they will still be in Prem next season as they maintained their revival under Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson, like Moyes, has managed to prove those critics who were against his appointment wrong.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
Palace have now lost just three of their last 16 League matches, with all of those defeats coming in London derbies.
In fact, Hodgson came into his match having failed to win 11 Premier League away derbies as a manager and losing each of the last five.
So under the circumstances this must have felt like a victory for the Eagles boss who has experienced his fair share of capital punishment.
He was indebted to his former West Ham defender James Tomkins for denying Javier Hernandez the opening goal with a stunning tackle in the six-yard box in the 10th minute.
We then had a delay in the match while West Ham’s Senegalese star Cheikhou Kouyate had his head bandaged following an accidental clash with Luko Milivojevic.
There was clearly nothing wrong with the Serb though, as he started the move which saw Benteke head Palace into a 24th minute lead.
West Ham keeper Adrian took a goal kick and within seconds he was picking the ball out of the net after Milivojevic collected the clearance in his own half and sprayed a pass out to the right to Townsend.
The former Tottenham winger outpaced Hammers youngster Declan Rice down the wing before delivering a perfect cross into the six-yard box for Benteke to head home his second Premier League goal of the season.
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS– CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
It’s a good job for his sake that he was not sporting his team-mate Bakary Sako’s double man-bun hairdo which made him look a ringer for Star Wars’ Princess Leia.
And the winger certainly felt the force of Pablo Zabaleta’s robust challenge, which went unpunished by ref Neil Swarbrick, moments later.
Sako got the home fans and players riled when he came on back on the field after having treatment only to manage a couple of yards before falling to the ground and eventually being replaced by Yohan Cabaye.
The stoked-up Hammers went on the attack and won a penalty when new boy Mario managed to thread the ball across the box to Hernandez, who was sent crashing to the ground by a rash challenge from Tomkins.
Did Chicharito leave his leg in to buy the spot kick? Of course he did. But does not every striker these days?
West Ham captain Noble kept his cool to fire his penalty past Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey for his milestone half-century club goal on 422nd appearance.
Hammers fans taunted old-boy Tomkins with a chant of “He’s one of our own.”
The Palace travelling support, clearly not understanding the rules of the game, hit back with: “How s**t must you be, Benteke has scored.”
Palace then almost scored twice as Townsend’s curing shot was pushed away by Adrian. And then when Patrick van Aanholt crossed the ball back into the box James McArthur nodded wide when he really should have scored.
We then saw Tomkins pick up a yellow card for going through the back of Hernandez – presumably in revenge for the penalty.
But the Mexican almost had the final laugh in a second half of fewer chances when he produced a powerful header from Sam Byram’s cross – only to see it blocked by Hennessey at point-blank range.
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