sport

Gayle reveals Pulis exit woe

Crystal Palace hat-trick hero Dwight Gayle admits Tony Pulis' exit has affected the side but hailed the calming effect of caretaker boss Keith Millen.

The striker scored a treble in the Eagles' 3-0 Capital One Cup win against Walsall on Tuesday.

Gayle had wrapped the game up when he completed his hat-trick after just 41 minutes to send Palace safely through to the third round.

Caretaker manager Millen again took charge after Pulis' exit almost two weeks ago, with the club still searching for a permanent replacement.

And Gayle revealed he had been rattled by Pulis' departure but will look to focus his efforts on the pitch.

He said: "I'd be lying if I said it hadn't because the team has been a bit confused as to what was happening but Keith has sorted us out and hopefully we can repay that faith by winning on Saturday (at Newcastle).

"With all that's going on off the pitch it's nice to get on the pitch and get a win and hopefully we can push on from it on Saturday and get three points.

"They are trying to sort stuff out but we need to concentrate on what's on the pitch and get the results."

It was Millen's third game in charge after Palace lost their opening two Barclays Premier League games to Arsenal and West Ham.

Gayle opened the scoring after seven minutes before doubling the visitors' lead at the Banks's Stadium with a low free kick on 25 minutes.

Four minutes before the break he drilled in a third and Millen admits it eases any early pressure at Selhurst Park.

"It's not been easy but you don't want to make excuses," he said.

"We needed that. We didn't perform against West Ham and it will give everyone a lift. Coming in on Thursday there will be a lot more smiles on the faces.

"Dwight showed how clinical he can be and that's at any level he can be at.

"As a group of people we really needed that."

Walsall boss Dean Smith, who completed the free-transfer of striker Mathieu Manset immediately after the game, admitted his side gave themselves a mountain to climb in the first half.

"Dwight Gayle proved to be the difference, we played some good football but it was in front of them," he said.

"They counter-attacked, broke on us and scored. There are positives there, for sure, but the game was lost in the first half."