West Brom vs Crystal Palace match report: Saido Berahino's late penalty earns Baggies a point

West Brom 2 Crystal Palace 2

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The Independent Football

Neil Warnock rather enjoys the role of pantomime villain and the Crystal Palace manager was on the receiving end of much abuse here.

Even his own goalkeeper Julian Speroni had a go at him after being replaced in the second half with a head injury. West Brom fans dislike Warnock with a passion. Their hatred dates back 12 years when, as Sheffield United manager, he forced a match to be abandoned when he reduced his team to six men with Albion 3-0 ahead. The Midlands club were eventually awarded all three points.

The insults flew thick and fast at the Palace manager yesterday but they fell on deaf ears and he waved cheerfully at them at the end but Warnock was less than delighted with referee Mark Clattenburg. He said: “I thought Mark had a smashing game but he made two or three bad mistakes. The challenge on Speroni was just like an assault. How any of the four officials didn’t see it I don’t know. Craig Dawson has gone at him from five yards and smashed him in the face. I’ve not see one of those since the days of Bert Trautmann.

“Julian was telling the physio ‘I’ll be alright’. But he was really dazed. I thought after the goal was given, they would have another go at him.

“The only one who was going to protect him was me. The fans were having a go at me but I like it here. They were using some naughty words but I can’t report 5-6,000 of them, can I?”

Warnock’s strategy was spot-on and so too was his decision to take off Speroni who took a heavy blow to the side of the head when Albion reduced the lead through Victor Anichebe in the second half. There was a belief and sense of purpose about Palace’s first half performance which belied their recent run of poor form. Their attacks were swift and neatly constructed and their 16th minute lead was well deserved.

Fraizer Campbell’s header was touched over by Ben Foster but the West Bromwich goalkeeper was caught up in a congested six yard box when the subsequent corner was delivered by Yannick Bolasie. Brede Hangeland’s firm header was blocked but he was alert enough to hook in the rebound.

Albion were lucky to survive a penalty shout when Craig Dawson clearly upended Wilfred Zaha in the 36th minute, but on the stroke of half-time Clattenberg had no option when Sébastien Pocognoli took the legs away from Bolasie with a reckless tackle from behind.

Mile Jedinak thumped the spot kick powerfully past Foster, and for the first time this season Palace went in for the interval with a lead under their belts. 

Anichebe replaced Stéphane Sessègnon at half-time and within five minutes the home side had reduced Palace’s advantage, albeit with an air of controversy.

Chris Brunt’s inswinging corner was headed into the net by Anichebe, just as the Palace goalkeeper was caught in the face by Dawson’s flying elbow. Speroni needed five minutes treatment to his head injury before, with the goalkeeper complaining frantically, he was replaced by Wayne Hennessey.

Palace had to endure six minutes of added time but they could not hold out. Jedinak clumsily tackled Anichebe from behind and Saido Berahino converted the penalty for his sixth goal in the last five games.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-1-1): Foster; Wisdom, Dawson, Lescott, Pocognoli; Brunt, Gardner, Dorrans (Blanco, 83), Morrison; Sessègnon (Anichebe, h-t); Berahino.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni (Hennessey, 54); Ward, Mariappa, Hangeland, Kelly; Jedinak, Ledley, Zaha (Puncheon, 64), Bolasie; Chamakh (Puncheon, 64), Campbell.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace)

Match rating: 7/10