Lacklustre West Ham beaten by Crystal Palace as revival stalls
PUBLISHED: 22:06 03 December 2013 | UPDATED: 08:45 04 December 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
New Palace boss Tony Pulis celebrated his first game in charge at Selhurst Park by grabbing all three points against the Hammers
Crystal Palace 1 West Ham United 0
Ex-Hammer Marouane Chamakh swooped to snatch victory for the Eagles at Selhurst Park, where Tony Pulis celebrated his first home game in charge with three priceless points.
The Hammers loanee Moroccan international had failed to make any impression during his three blank claret and blue outings in the East End in January but, 11 months on, his 42nd-minute header proved to be the derby decider for Palace.
And while Chamakh celebrated his second goal for the south Londoners, Sam Allardyce’s side saw all the weekend’s hard work undone by a dismal defeat that leaves them just three points clear of the drop-zone.
Saturday’s valuable victory over Fulham had given the Hammers some much needed breathing space and following that 3-0 win Sam Allardyce made a quartet of changes as Razvan Rat, Joey O’Brien, Ravel Morrison and Carlton Cole were called up in place of rested substitutes Guy Demel, George McCartney, Matt Jarvis and Modibo Maiga.
That starting berth was due reward for Cole, who had stepped from the bench to net his first goal since re-joining the Hammers but the popular striker soon found himself starved of service as Big Sam’s side failed to carry on from where they had left off, three days earlier.
On the other hand, a narrow one-goal defeat at Norwich City on Saturday had left Palace rooted to the foot of the table with just seven points to show from their 13 outings but following that Carrow Road reverse, Tony Pulis named an unchanged side.
There was no frenetic opening to this crucial London derby, however, and apart from a lofted Mile Jedinak scuff and a wayward Barry Bannan curler, the Eagles failed to offer anything until Jason Puncheon forced Jussi Jaaskelainen to save his low 25-yarder on the quarter-hour mark.
For their part, the Hammers had to wait until the half-hour mark before finally troubling Julian Speroni with a legal effort, when the marauding Morrison was tripped in full-flow by the consequently cautioned Damien Delaney.
In a move carefully crafted at Chadwell Heath, Mark Noble lofted the ball over the Palace wall but, unfortunately for Kevin Nolan and the travelling fans, the escaping Hammers skipper could not replicate his training ground finishes and the Palace ‘keeper easily held the weak, ten-yard shot.
Shortly afterwards, Cole’s strength saw him break upfield but with just Speroni to beat, he unselfishly squared to supporting Stewart Downing who failed to control the ball and, instead of bagging the opener, West Ham were forced to settle for the booby prize of a throw-in.
Mohamed Diame nodded over, too, and with three minutes of the first-half remaining, the visitors paid the price for not taking those chances.
Joel Ward’s speculative 30-yarder was deflected for a corner and when Bannan’s flag-kick was half-cleared back to him on the right flank he returned the ball into the six-yard box, where the rising Chamakh managed to get half-an-eyebrow on the cross to direct a faint header beyond Noble and Nolan on the left-hand post.
Buoyed by that first-half breakthrough, Palace came out with all guns blazing after the break and goal-scorer almost turned provider, when he squared to Puncheon, whose 15-yarder deflected off the sliding James Collins before Jaaskelainen tipped the ball on to the post and away for a corner.
With West Ham in total disarray, Kagisho Dikgacoi nodded Bannan’s consequent cross over the top and then, just seconds later, Cameron Jerome broke clear but the advancing Jaaskelainen denied the Palace striker with a brave stop to keep his side in the contest.
That was the cue for a double-substitution as Joe Cole and Maiga replaced Nolan and Carlton Cole but they would have no impact and, although, Downing forced the ball into the net shortly afterwards, his effort was ruled by the flag of an assistant, who had harshly spotted a tussle between O’Brien and Chamakh.
A quarter-of-an-hour from time, Downing was threatening once more but this time, Speroni gratefully gathered his 25-yard free-kick and then an ambitious Morrison drilled well wide from similar range.
At the other end, Dikgacoi forced Jaaskelainen to save his rising 18-yarder but by the time Chamakh departed to rapturous applause with five minutes remaining that priceless Palace victory had long been in the bag.
And the Hammers were left to contemplate a daunting trip to Liverpool on Saturday without Morrison, who was booked after the final whistle for a scuffle with Ward after James Tomkins had kicked the ball into the back of a Palace defender on a night of frustration for wobbling West Ham.
EAGLES: Speroni, Ward, Moxey, Gabbidon, Delaney, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (O’Keefe 82), Puncheon (Kebe 65), Chamakh (Williams 85), Jerome. Unused subs: Price, Mariappa, Phillips, Gayle.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Rat (McCartney 78) Collins, Tomkins, Noble, Nolan (J Cole 58) Morrison, Downing, Diame, C.Cole (Maiga 58). Unused subs: Adrian, Jarvis, Collison, Demel.
Bookings: Delaney (31), Tomkins (67), Morrison (f/t)
Referee: Lee Mason