Alan Pardew admitted he was surprised by how well his Crystal Palace team stood up to Tottenham’s second-half pressure in their 1-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory.
A goal on the stroke of half-time from Martin Kelly secured progress to the quarter-finals where Palace will visit Championship side Reading.
Having taken his team to Spain for a pre-match training camp and adopted an unfamiliar 4-4-2 formation, Palace’s preparations for Sunday’s fixture were vastly different to normal.
But Pardew believes it was not their surroundings but the collective will to build on Palace’s early-season form which inspired the win at White Hart Lane.
“It was important and the timing of it was good because with the league form, we needed to sit ourselves down and go, ‘It ain’t been that bad. Let’s kick on now with these final 12, 13 games that we’ve got left’,” Pardew said.
“The guys showed (that). We were resilient. We defended well, which you have to do at Spurs. We broke well and the second half, if I’m honest, I was surprised that we handled that so well. We really did well in the second half.
“I said to the players in the changing room, ‘You won’t know the effects and the impact the FA Cup has until you reach the quarter-finals, the semi-final and the final. Then you understand this competition and the romance of it’.”
Pardew was an FA Cup finalist as a player with Palace in 1990, and as a boss he led West Ham to the 2006 final, where they lost a classic match to Liverpool on penalties.
He will be going back to another of his former clubs in the quarter-finals, having managed Reading from 1999 to 2003.
Palace have not won in the Premier League since December 19 at Stoke, since when Yannick Bolasie had been injured.
It was therefore pleasing to Pardew that the winger appeared as a substitute against Tottenham, as Palace made up for two league defeats to Spurs this season.
“(Bolasie is) massively important,” Pardew said. “The fact he was on the bench gave everyone a boost and this week we had in Spain, seeing a bit of his exuberance lifted everybody. There’s no doubt about that. He’s a big player for us.
“We learned some lessons from the two Tottenham games before. We changed the shape so we didn’t get pushed back so far but in doing that we had to release our full-backs to get forward. To get that goal from a full-back shows the kind of intent that we had.”