Alan Pardew has had better weeks, but after spending the past two days dealing with an unsettled Wilfried Zaha, the Crystal Palace manager could take satisfaction from Scott Dann’s added time header that ensured his side have now registered a first point and first league goal of the season.
On the face of it, that is the very least Pardew might have expected from this fixture. But Palace’s start to the season has proved testing, and not helped by Tottenham Hotspur’s £12 million approach for Zaha.
The bid was dismissed by Palace but Pardew insisted the player’s focus had been affected, forcing him to start Zaha on the bench, leaving the winger a spectator during a first half when Bournemouth might well have added to Josh King’s tenth minute opener.
Zaha was eventually introduced midway through the second half when Palace were in the ascendancy and contributed to the build-up of pressure that finally delivered Dann’s late goal after a succession of missed chances.
“Wilf is a young man - trust me I didn't want to leave him out but you have to understand the pressures on him,” said the Palace manager.
“He had a really disrupted week and I thought it only fair to see if we could get through the game maybe even without him but we needed him and he responded and was terrific when he came on. He showed why the chairman made the statement he did about keeping him.
“He didn't take being sub badly at all. I think he understood and realised it wasn't a punishment. It shows what a good character he is.”
Whether Zaha would have made much difference to the first half display is debatable. Palace were simply dreadful while Bournemouth’s vibrant display was capped by King’s fine finish after Christian Benteke, making his Palace league debut following his £27 million move from Liverpool, produced a poor clearing header from Andrew Surman’s free-kick.
The home side had the chance to level quickly when referee Mike Dean spotted Charlie Daniels’ discreet tug on Benteke’s shirt and awarded a penalty, a decision similar to the two penalties awarded by dean at Stoke last week.
The potential damage was limited by keeper Artur Boruc who saved well from Yohan Cabaye and it was Palace’s good fortune they were not trailing by more at half-time. “We had something to protect and were desperate to get our first win,” said Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager.
“The only disappointment for us was that it should have been more than one at half-time. In the second half it was all hands to the pump.”
Palace rallied after the break and the breakthrough finally came in the final moments when Dann met Jason Puncheon’s cross. Palace are still without a league win this season, but Pardew was pleased.
"We are going through some changes and have had a disrupted week, particularly with Wilf, and didn't really do enough team play this week and that was evident,” said Pardew, whose side have won just two league games since the turn of the year.
“For me the equaliser was more than justified. We should have been in front way before then - we had so many chances. It was an awful first half, but the second half was as good a second half as I have seen here under my management.”
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Mandanda 8; Ward 7, Dann 8, Delaney 7, Souare 7; Puncheon 7, McArthur 7 (Lee 67, 7), Cabaye 5, Townsend 7; Wickham 5 (Zaha 67, 6), Benteke 6.
Subs: Speroni, Tomkins, Ledley, Kelly, Boateng
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Boruc 8; A Smith 7, Francis 7, S Cook 7, Daniels 6; Arter 8, Surman 7; Ibe 6 (Gosling 61, 6), King 9, Fraser 6; Wilson 7 (Grabban 72, 6).
Subs: Federici, Ake, Afobe, Gradel, B Smith
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