Hard-working Palace bring to an end Albion's unbeaten run

West Bromwich Albion 0 Crystal Palace 1
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The Independent Football

Two weeks ago Crystal Palace's mediocre start to the Championship season hit its lowest point with a 4-0 defeat at home to Scunthorpe United, everyone's favourites for relegation.

A week later West Bromwich Albion won 5-0 away to Middlesbrough, their fellow promotion hopefuls, to move within one result of equalling their best ever start to a season.

No wonder Neil Warnock, the Palace manager, said Saturday's result at the Hawthorns was the sort to drive gamblers to despair.

In truth the Championship has been like this for years, with almost every team capable of winning or losing every match. If nearly all the country's best talent is to be found in the Premiership, the next level down is full of well-organised and hard-working sides making the best of what they have.

Palace's victory was a triumph for such qualities. Man-for-man Albion have much the better squad, but Palace denied Roberto di Matteo's team time and space in which to play and rarely looked in danger of conceding against the division's top scorers.

On the two occasions when Luke Moore broke free of Paddy McCarthy and Jose Fonte, the rocks at the centre of Palace's defence, he wasted the chances with a shot over the bar and another that was smothered by Julian Speroni, the goalkeeper. The second miss was quickly punished when Alassane N'Diaye pounced on Alan Lee's flick-on to score his first goal since joining Palace in the summer.

As Warnock stressed, however, Palace did not come simply to defend. They pushed forward when the opportunity arose, Neil Danns supporting a three-man attack in which Victor Moses was outstanding. Moses gave Gianni Zuiverloon such a run-around Di Matteo was forced to bring back Gonzalo Jara into a defensive role, the Chilean international having begun the match as an attacking threat down Albion's right wing.

"We had read this was going to be Albion's ninth game without defeat and I think things like that help you," Warnock said afterwards.

Di Matteo was disappointed his team had shown little creativity, but Warnock expects them to bounce back.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon (Reid, 60), Martis, Olsson, Mattock; Jara, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Koren (Wood, 78); Moore (Cox, 60), Bednar. Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Barnett, Teixeira, Meite.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Speroni; Butterfield, Fonte, McCarthy, Hill; Danns, Derry, N'Diaye; Ambrose (Lee, 61), Scannell (Carle, 72), Moses. Substitutes not used: Flahavan (gk), Hills, Ertl, Davis, Cadogan.

Referee: R Booth (Nottinghamshire).

Booked: West Bromwich Albion: Bednar, Mulumbu, Cox. Crystal Palace: Derry, Carle.

Man of the match: Moses.

Attendance: 21,007.