Moses lays down the law as Palace blunt Albion attack

West Brom 0 Crystal Palace 1
Click to follow
The Independent Online

West Bromwich Albion started here as the Championship's leading scorers, but on this evidence it was hard to see how they had found the net 20 times in their first eight matches. Roberto Di Matteo's men enjoyed plenty of possession against a resilient Crystal Palace team but scorned the few chances they created to suffer their first League defeat of the season. For Palace, sound in defence and threatening on the counter-attack, it was by some margin the best result of what has been a difficult start to the campaign.

Albion were on the brink of equalling their best start to a season, but Roman Bednar and Luke Moore, their twin strikers, found it hard to escape the attentions of Palace's capable centre-backs, Jose Fonte and Paddy McCarthy.

The home team had more joy down the flanks, with the overlapping Joe Mattock in particular making some inroads on the left, but all too often their crosses failed to find their target. The suspended Jerome Thomas and the injured Chris Brunt and Marek Cech were sorely missed. Di Matteo admitted that "it wasn't the usual West Bromwich Albion out there" and said: "We were missing a bit of creativity and a bit of width."

Palace were generally on the back foot but rarely looked under serious threat. In Victor Moses, moreover, they had the most dangerous forward on the pitch. With his deft movement and close ball control, Moses broke free of his markers on several occasions. Early on he twice left Gianni Zuiverloon for dead, and Albion brought Gonzalo Jara back from midfield in an attempt to combat the threat.

Darren Ambrose, miscuing from eight yards after a fine run and cross by Moses, might have put Palace in front in first-half injury time, but until the game's only goal the two best chances had both fallen to Moore. The Albion striker shot over the bar from 10 yards following Jara's cross midway through the first half and then saw his drive superbly smothered by Julian Speroni after Zuiverloon's break down the right on 57 minutes.

That miss saw Moore soon replaced by Simon Cox, but it was a Palace substitution moments later that proved decisive. Within two minutes of coming on for Ambrose, Alan Lee won an aerial challenge to set up the French midfielder Alassane N'Diaye, who bundled the ball home at the far post for his first goal for Palace. Albion huffed and puffed, but a Reuben Reid header that went wide of a post was their only clear-cut opportunity.

Two weeks ago Neil Warnock, the Palace manager, described a 4-0 home defeat to Scunthorpe United as one of the lowest points of his career, but his team have responded with 1-0 victories over Derby and Albion.

"We were superb today," Warnock said. "The team gave me everything. We didn't come to defend and we pushed up on them throughout. We deserved the win."

Comments