Defender impressed with response to favourites tag
GARETH McAuley has praised his team-mates for dealing with the pressure he admits they felt going into Saturday’s 2-0 home victory over bottom club Crystal Palace.
The 33-year-old netted Albion’s second to calm the nerves of a full house at The Hawthorns – and consigned the visitors to their seventh successive league defeat in the process.
McAuley believes the Baggies, who were odds-on to overcome the Eagles with the bookmakers, responded well to being labelled favourites.
“It was an important win in front of a full house,” said McAuley.
“Palace had lost eight of their nine games going into Saturday and there is pressure that comes with that as everyone expected us to win.
“It doesn’t quite work like that.
“It was a nervy one all day and the pressure was on us to win the game.
“The conditions, with the wind, were a leveller.
“It was hard and Palace fought for everything.
“But the fans were right behind us.
“It got a bit edgy at times because we were expected to win the game.
“It didn’t matter how we got the win.
“It was just important to get the three points and move on to next week.”
McAuley again benefitted from an excellent Chris Brunt delivery to double Albion’s lead with seven minutes remaining.
Brunt has been involved in six of McAuley's seven Baggies goals – and the defender is delighted with the service he receives from set-pieces.
“The quality of the ball was fantastic, it was right on the money,” added McAuley.
“It was nice to get another goal and kill the game off.
“You know that if you follow the ball there’s every chance of getting your head on one.
“They were starting to get back into the game so it was an important goal.”
Steve Clarke’s side earned their fourth Barclays Premier League clean sheet of the season against Palace.
And McAuley believes Boaz Myhill’s performances could leave the Hawthorns chief with a selection headache when Ben Foster returns from a foot injury.
“Boaz is a great keeper and he’s a great guy to have around the place.
“He’s experienced as well which helps.
“He’s been fantastic in the games he’s played.
“He’s really settled in and he’s got a few clean sheets under his belt.
“If we can keep winning games it will make it difficult for Ben to get back in the team.
“It’s not my call but Boaz has been fantastic.
“He’s made saves when he’s needed to.
“He’s the man in possession of the jersey and he’s doing very well for us.”