Palace architects of their own downfall, despite mini second-half revival

Crystal Palace's appalling defensive display in the first-half cost the side as they fell to another Premier League defeat - this time at the hands of West Brom

Palace architects of their own downfall, despite mini second-half revival
(Photo: Getty)
West Brom
3
2
Crystal Palace
West Brom: Foster; Dawson, Olsson, McAuley, Brunt (Chester, min. 43); Fletcher, Yacob; Sessegnon (McClean, min. 74), Berahino, Gardner; Rondon.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Kelly, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Mutch, Cabaye (Gayle, min 78), Ledley (Jedinak, min. 80), Zaha; Wickham, Adebayor (Bolasie, min. 46).
SCORE: 1-0, min. 11, Gardner, 2-0, min. 19, Dawson, 3-0, min. 30, Berahino, 3-1, min. 48, Wickham, 3-2, min. 80, Wickham
REFEREE: Jonathan Moss. Booked: Dawson (min. 16), Adebayor (min. 24), Cabaye (min. 63), Chester (min. 77)
INCIDENTS: Premier League match between West Brom and Crystal Palace. The match was played at the Hawthorns stadium. Attendance: 24, 806

Crystal Palace travelled to West Brom - managed by former boss Tony Pulis - hoping to put a halt to a terrible run of results which has seen them winless in nine Premier League games.

However, first-half goals from Craig Gardner, Craig Dawson and Saido Berahino settled the game before half-time, despite a Connor Wickham-inspired Palace revival in the second-half contributing to a 3-2 West Brom win.

Palace were unchanged from their fantastic FA Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur week, with White Hart Lane goalscorer Martin Kelly keeping his place due to Pape Souare's suspension and Joe Ledley keeping out club captain, Mile Jedinak. Yannick Bolasie made the bench for the first time in the Premier League since December. 

Pulis made four changes to his Baggies side that lost to Championship side, Reading, last weekend, with Gareth McAuleyClaudio Yacob, Dawson and Gardner replacing James Chester, Jonny Evans, Sandro and James McClean. Chris Brunt started after the controversial coin throwing incident at the Madejski stadium, and he was tasked with marking Wilfried Zaha - which was singled out as a key battle before the game. 

Abhorrent Palace defending costs Palace the game within first 30 minutes

After a slow start to the game with lots of patient passing from Palace, West Brom took control of the game and seemed to score with every chance that was presented to them, however, it was all down to some awful Palace defending as the Eagles were the architect of their own abysmal downfall. 

West Brom opened the scoring when Damien Delaney was caught ball watching, completely losing sight of Salomon Rondon, who burst through on goal and struck his shot across goal, which was initially saved well by Wayne Hennessey, but Gardner poked the ball into the net from close-range without challenge from the Eagles' back four. 

The goal gave West Brom a lift and Joel Ward particularly struggled against the dribbling ability of Stephane Sessegnon, and it was the Baggies winger who was crucial to the second goal. The wide man breezed past Ward before also getting past Jordon Mutch - who eventually fouled Sessegnon. The resulting free-kick from the right-sided byline was delivered by the first goalscorer, Gardner, and the ball was met the head of Dawson who, unmarked, headed into the net from 15 yards. Yet more horrific defending from Palace left them 2-0 down within the first 20 minutes. 

Berahino all but settled the tie just ten minutes later when a seemingly innocuous diagonal pass found the West Brom striker, who - once again - was completely unmarked, and he brilliantly cushioned the ball into the corner of Hennessey's goal. Everyone in the stadium watched on in dismay at what was panning out in front of them, but the lead was more than deserved.

Berahino wonderfully finishes West Brom's third goal as Palace found themsevles 3-0 down at half-time (photo: Getty)
Berahino wonderfully finishes West Brom's third goal as Palace found themsevles 3-0 down at half-time | photo: Getty

Palace's first half-chance of the game was met by ironic cheers from all four corners of the ground; good work down the right between Zaha and Kelly ultimately ended with the right-back crossing, but the ball was met by Mutch's header which failed to trouble Ben Foster - who had previously been a spectator. 

An embarrassing first-half performance from Palace was almost culminated by the Baggies finding a fourth goal when Gardner's long-range free-kick was deflected onto the post by Ward, before Kelly cleared the ball behind for a corner - which was ultimately caught by Hennessey, finally relieving the defence from the West Brom onslaught.

Bolasie introduction sees Palace revitalised in the second-half

Alan Pardew replaced the annonymous Emmanuel Adebayor at half-time and Bolasie was introduced to give Palace small hope of a revival, which seemed slightly likelier just three minutes into the second-half when Connor Wickham capitalised on an error by Jonas Olsson to lift the ball over Foster and tap into an empty net from a tight angle. 

Wickham salutes the Palace support following his first goal of the evening | Photo: Talksport
Wickham salutes the Palace support following his first goal of the evening | Photo: Talksport

The goal seemed to give Pardew's side a lift with Bolasie and Wickham at the centre of a revived Palace team in the second-half. The Eagles could have even had a penalty moments later when Scott Dann was bundled over in the penalty area, but referee Jon Moss allowed play to continue when pointing to the spot would have been the correct decision.  

Berahino smashed the crossbar with a superbly executed curling effort as a nervous West Brom endeavoured to seal the victory.

However, Palace edged even closer towards a previously unimaginable draw when a free-kick was headed away, but the ball dropped kindly for Wickham around 15 yards out, and his wonderful half-volley nestled into the top corner - giving Palace hope of a comeback that seemed unthinkable at half-time. 

Despite a couple of chances to snatch a draw - particularly through a hat-trick opportunity for the excellent Wickham - Palace's terrible first-half performance cost them yet another negative result. The defeat sees Palace extend their winless run to ten games, while West Brom form a three-point lead over the Eagles in the Premier League table.