KEITH Downing admitted he was left frustrated by Albion’s FA Cup third-round exit against Crystal Palace as he suffered the first defeat of his reign as caretaker head coach.
The Baggies went into the Hawthorns encounter on the back of a four-game unbeaten Barclays Premier League run.
And Downing was left scratching his head as his team dominated the game despite a below-par display – but gifted Dwight Gayle a 22nd-minute opener before being undone by substitute Marouane Chamakh’s counter-attack strike in the dying seconds to lose 2-0.
“It is a little bit hard to take,” said Downing.
“We gave them a goal, which is disappointing.
“When you play against Tony Pulis’ sides you know they’ll be organised and resolute.
“Once we gave the goal away it made it doubly difficult for the afternoon.
“We had a lot of possession and it was frustrating.
“In the last third of the field we didn’t do enough or have enough quality on the end of things.
“We had enough ball to cause them problems but overall we were frustrating throughout the afternoon.
“Goals change games and momentum.
“At half-time we talked about a lack of intensity to our game.
“We were a bit disappointing without the ball, we didn’t get after people.
“We’ve been positive in the last four games and I felt there was too much caution today.
“We kind of waited for things to happen and I wanted individuals to grab the game a little bit in the second half.
“We did that to a certain extent but didn’t show enough quality in the final third to get that elusive goal.”
Confidence was high before the cup tie following the New Year’s Day league win over in-form Newcastle.
And Downing must now rally his troops ahead of next Saturday’s top-flight trip to Southampton.
“The last four games have been really positive,” he added.
“I’ve sat here obviously happy about it.
“But today there was a disappointment about it.
“It was difficult to put your finger on why there was a lack of energy to our performance.
“There was enough fresh players out there.
“You have to take that on the chin and it is part and parcel of being a head coach.
“It’s down to myself.”