A Crystal Palace side lacking in quality toiled throughout a match that neither they nor their opponents West Brom truly deserved to win. True to the approach of Tony Pulis, West Brom held firm throughout a second half in which Palace pushed for the opening goal and then scored in the 74th minute to win 1-0. It wasn't a classic.
Chung-yong Lee played in a central attacking role and created Crystal Palace's best chance with a through-ball to Wilfried Zaha that the winger missed. If it can be considered a positive, the game showed just how badly Palace need reinforcements in attack. Saturday's defeat might just give the board and manager the impetus they need to complete the rumoured transfer deals for Christian Benteke and Saido Berahino next week.
The lack of a cutting edge in this squad is alarming. Palace were limited to few opportunities, and those that they were presented with weren't taken. Much like the second half of last season, a failure to take advantage of dominant play cost Palace; and just like last season, that failure was punished by the opposition scoring in the latter stages. More needs to be done in the transfer market if the club are to avoid getting dragged into another mid-to-lower table drop.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- We know that the squad is weak but the line-up for West Brom seemed to be an attempt by Alan Pardew to make a point to the board. An inability to break West Brom down was only exacerbated by substitutions that made little impact.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Wayne Hennessey, 7 -- Made an excellent save late in the first half to prevent what looked like a certain goal. There was nothing he could do for the goal, an impressive header from Salomon Rondon.
DF Joel Ward, 5 -- Up against Matt Phillips and Saido Berahino, Ward struggled to gain control of the wing pair. In the first half, especially, Palace seemed susceptible to crosses. and Ward was at fault for a number of those. He needed more support from Zaha and Andros Townsend, but better communication might have helped.
DF Damien Delaney, 5 -- Whether it's a tactical instruction or a personal inclination, the number of aimless long passes to a closely marked Connor Wickham did little to aid Palace in their attempts to break West Brom down. Defensively, he did what was necessary; it's just his distribution that lets him down.
DF Scott Dann, 6 -- Played the role of captain with consummate professionalism. A player who makes defensive work look easy, he did everything that was required against Rondon's physical presence.
DF Pape Souare, 5 -- Like Ward, Souare toiled against West Brom's wingers and allowed a few too many crosses into the box unchallenged. There were also a few occasions where he was nearly caught in possession when a simple pass would have sufficed.
MF Jason Puncheon, 6 -- Playing a deeper role, Puncheon's ability to open up opposition defences seemed to be negated by an instruction to sit farther back. Took set pieces with a bit more pace but seemed to be absent whenever there was an opportunity to take a direct free-kick. All in all, it was disappointing for a player who has had a decent scoring record with them in the past.
MF Mile Jedinak, 7 -- For a player linked with a move away from the club, Jedinak showed the temperament and dependability that would be a credit to whichever club he's destined to join. While his passing is perhaps his greatest weakness, his defensive work made the jobs of Puncheon and Lee easier.
MF Chung-yong Lee, 8 -- This was Lee's first opportunity to play in a central role, having previously only featured on the wing for the club, and he took it in his stride. Flitting across the midfield, Lee provided options where others weren't available. He also created the only major opening for Palace in the second half with a deft tackle and pass into the feet of Zaha, who failed to take advantage.
FW Wilfried Zaha, 6 -- West Brom play with four centre-backs across their back line and the way they work together makes them incredibly difficult to break down. Zaha had the beating of his marker Jonny Evans on a number of occasions but failed to make better use of the openings with deliveries that just didn't hit their mark. Palace's only genuine opportunity fell to Zaha, who ran at goal only to hit a shot right at Ben Foster. The rebound fell to him again, and when he perhaps should have looked for a pass instead, his second shot was blocked by defenders on the line.
FW Connor Wickham, 5 -- Desperately tried to lead the line but struggled against that West Brom defensive unit. Had an opportunity to score in the first half from a Jedinak cross, but his snap-shot went wide. If Palace are to persist with Wickham up front, he must get better quality service.
FW Andros Townsend, 7 -- Quick, direct and skillful, Townsend's performance was just a sample of what a fully integrated, fit player will provide to the side. While he didn't find the openings he sought, he did take shots at goal that other players didn't have the confidence to take.
FW Yannick Bolasie, 6 -- Brought on by Alan Pardew in an attempt to take the game to West Brom, his directness certainly gave the squad a bit more attacking edge, which should have resulted in a free-kick just on the edge of the area. That was the highlight of his brief time on the pitch.
MF Yohan Cabaye, N/R -- Brought a calming influence to the midfield and helped the hosts retain the ball better, but like the rest of the squad, he couldn't unlock West Brom's side.
DF Martin Kelly, N/R -- Brought on shortly before the final whistle.