Block G Report: Crystal Palace 3 – 1 West Bromwich Albion

By - Sunday 9th February, 2014

Crystal Palace beaten only once in last eight home games, reports Tom Lickley

The weary phrase ‘football is a game of two halves’  may be overused, but it certainly is accurate. On this occasion, the encounter between the Baggies and the Eagles at a blustery Selhurst Park felt like a game of three thirds; the home side controlling the first before Albion took charge in the second, with Palace once again maintaining a stronghold towards the end.

There was a great sense of energy around the old ground before kick-off, the mood buoyant following the debuts given to three new signings – Thomas Ince, Joe Ledley and Scott Dann – but the biggest cheer was reserved for Glenn Murray, who was named on the bench for the first time since tearing his ACL in the home leg of the playoffs against Brighton last season. With the crowd fully behind them, Palace started the game with intent.

It helped that West Brom started like a side totally lacking in confidence, which considering their recent run of form is unsurprising. Indeed, in only took fifteen minutes for the Eagles to take the lead, and it was debutant Ince who brought the crowd to their feet.

A long pass from Joel Ward found Marouane Chamakh, who nodded the ball into the path of Yannick Bolasie. Some good work and persistency from the Congolese winger put the ball into the path of Ince, who swiftly dispatched the ball past Ben Foster. A clinical finish which hopefully demonstrates what Ince will bring to the team for the remainder of the season.

Palace’s dominance was beginning to show as they enjoyed much of the possession, and just over ten minutes later another debutant bagged his first goal for the Eagles. Ince turned provider this time, curling in a corner straight on to the totally unmarked head of Ledley, who powered the ball into the net with Foster otherwise occupied. A good goal, but the shambolic defending from Albion was obvious. Nevertheless, Palace were taking full advantage.

That is until around the thirty minute mark, when Palace started losing their way somewhat. As has often been the case under the stewardship of both Ian Holloway and Tony Pulis, the Eagles struggle to keep possession. Mile Jedinak for instance, despite being arguably world class at winning the ball through headers and tackles, often leaves a lot to be desired with his ball distribution. And so it was that Albion started growing in confidence, and whilst Palace rode out he rest of the half relatively comfortably, the warning signs were there.

A barnstorming shot by James Morrison was met by a flying save from Speroni

The Baggies made two changes at the break, introducing former Palace loan star Scott Sinclair and new signing Thievy Bifouma. Palace had been warned before the break, and within a minute of the restart had their lead cut in half. Bifouma became the third debutant of the match to score, with the striker switching passes with Victor Anichebe before clipping the ball past Julian Speroni at the keeper’s near post, and the Argentine will feel he should have dealt with the shot. Forty-five minutes of good work by the Eagles had been damaged within thirty six seconds.

West Brom grew ever stronger, and could, perhaps should, have added an equaliser. A barnstorming shot by James Morrison was met by a flying save from Speroni, and the keeper more than made up for not saving the first goal with a world beating save from Sinclair, the Argentine’s instincts once again coming to Palace’s rescue as they have been doing for the best part of a decade.

In between, Palace had a chance to put a third away following a goalmouth scramble from a corner. Despite the Albion pressure, it was Palace who scored the fourth goal of the game. A break by Chamakh put the Moroccan through on goal, and whilst the striker’s touch wasn’t the best, he made to round Foster. The former England goalkeeper was millimetres away from clawing the ball to safety, but he mistimed his challenge somewhat and Chamakh was sent flying. Referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot, and Chamakh coolly converted into the bottom right hand corner.

Without any real clear cut chances for either side in the remainder of the game, Palace closed out for a victory which puts them fourteenth. An enormous roar greeted Murray as he started his Premier League career with twenty minutes left, and had a swerving free kick from Jedinak not met the safe hands of Foster, Murray would maybe have had a chance to complete a dream comeback. Nevertheless, the striker, and all those associated with Palace will go home happy, with a further step towards a second Premier League season achieved.

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Ledley; Puncheon (Murray 72′), Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bolasie (Parr 76′); Ince; Chamakh (Thomas 83′).

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Jones, Ridgewell (Sinclair, 45′), Mulumbu, McAuley, Dawson, Gera (Bifouma, 45′), Yacob (Berahino 71′), Anichebe, Morrison, Brunt.

Goals: Crystal Palace 3 (Ince 15′, Ledley 27′, Chamakh 69′ (pen)) West Bromwich Albion 1 (Bifouma 46′).

Attendance: 24,501.

Referee: C. Foy.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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