Baggies claim first away triumph since November
ALBION ended a three-match losing sequence with a superb 2-0 victory at in-form Crystal Palace in front of a bumper away following at Selhurst Park.
James Morrison and Craig Gardner did the damage early in each half to ensure Tony Pulis tasted victory against his former employers on a sunny afternoon in south-east London.
Morrison found acres of space to hand the Throstles a dream start after just two minutes, heading home Chris Brunt’s corner to register his second Barclays Premier League goal of the season.
Gardner then made sure of the spoils eight minutes into the second half with a cracking 25-yard strike – following another Brunt corner - which sent the 2,600 travelling Baggies fans into raptures.
Dwight Gayle’s header clipped the crossbar for the Eagles but it was Albion who tasted success and duly moved on to 36 points – extending their advantage over the bottom three to eight points.
Victory, thanks to a 13th league clean sheet of the campaign, was only Albion’s second in seven attempts in all competitions and first on the road in the league since the 1-0 success at Leicester in early November.
And it was just reward for the Albion faithful who travelled to the capital, with the club providing free coach travel for 33 buses for a 13th consecutive season.
Victor Anichebe was recalled in place of Brown Ideye, who dropped to the bench in the only change from last weekend’s defeat against Leicester.
But thoughts of that reverse were banished after just two minutes as an unmarked Morrison headed home Brunt’s inswinging corner from six yards – reminiscent of his goal against Tottenham at White Hart Lane earlier this season.
Referee Jon Moss waved away Albion claims for a penalty after 16 minutes as Mile Jedinak appeared to have his arms around Anichebe, who duly went to ground in the area.
Boaz Myhill saved from Yannick Bolasie as Palace applied pressure at the other end.
Myhill was at it again in the 31st minute as he produced a great parried save to keep out an acrobatic overhead kick from the lively Bolasie.
But the Baggies held out over the remaining period of the first half to maintain their advantage heading into the interval.
And it was doubled in true style just eight minutes into the second half.
Brunt’s corner evaded everyone in the area but was picked up Gardner, who took a touch and unleashed a 25-yard effort across Julian Speroni and into the far corner.
The Eagles came within inches of reducing the arrears soon after as half-time substitute Dwight Gayle saw his close-range header clip the top of the crossbar.
Berahino came close to a third for Albion in the 76th minute but was denied by Speroni.
Myhill kept out Damien Delaney’s header before Palace sub Yaya Sanogo was denied by the offside flag when he poked home from two yards out.
And despite six minutes of injury time, Albion stood firm to record their first victory at Selhurst Park for nine years.
Palace: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Dann, Ledley (Souare 45’), Bolasie, Jedinak (Gayle 45’), McArthur (Sanogo 80’), Zaha, Puncheon, Murray.
Subs: Hennessey, Hangeland, Kelly, Ameobi.
BOOKED: Dann (foul 54’), Puncheon (foul 61’), Bolasie (simulation 69’)
Albion: Myhill, Dawson (Wisdom 70’), McAuley, Lescott, Brunt, Gardner (Olsson 81’), Fletcher, Yacob, Morrison, Berahino (Baird 87’), Anichebe.
Subs: Rose, McManaman, Sessegnon, Ideye.
GOALS: Morrison 2’, Gardner 53’
BOOKED: McAuley (foul 14’), Gardner (foul 79’), Brunt (foul 79’)
Referee: Jon Moss (West Riding)
Albion star man: Claudio Yacob