Marouane Chamakh breathes new life into Crystal Palace’s survival bid
Striker’s 42nd-minute header earns Palace only their third win of the season
Crystal Palace 1 (Chamakh 42), West Ham 0
Tony Pulis has had his immediate effect. Crystal Palace, a team apparently bereft of any hope just a few weeks ago, hoisted themselves off the foot of the table with victory in their new manager’s first home game in charge here and, in an instant, safety is only three points away. Life near the bottom does not feel quite so oppressive in that context.
Palace have been desperate for a glimmer of hope to offer the promise of survival and the lead plucked by Marouane Chamakh (above) just before the interval after a period of West Ham dominance had offered precisely that, even if the look of disgust on Sam Allardyce’s face as he slumped back on to the bench was a reflection of disbelief that his team were behind.
The opportunities up to then had all been West Ham’s, but their profligacy and Palace’s frantic defence had prevented them from taking advantage.
The visitors should have chiseled out a lead of their own once Palace’s initial urgency petered out. Mohamed Diaméflicked a free header over the bar from Stewart Downing’s centre, the winger’s delivery from the right increasingly menacing.
Carlton Cole, in his first Premier League start since April, had also beaten the offside trap to square across the six-yard box only for the ball to elude a team-mate, while Kevin Nolan could only scuff Mark Noble’s cleverly scooped free-kick over the wall for Julian Speroni to claim. Damien Delaney’s block on a Downing volley was just as significant though, because by then Palace led. Their first corner of the half had yielded unlikely reward, Barry Bannan’s poor delivery returned to him from the near-post by Joel Ward for the Scot to fizz over a more accurate cross.
Chamakh eased himself free of Diamé to send a downward header beyond Noble and Nolan on the goal-line. The majority in the arena spluttered in celebration. This was only Palace’s eighth league goal of the campaign, and the second by the Moroccan since moving from Arsenal.
Downing, already infuriated to see a goal disallowed for Joey O’Brien’s foul in the build-up, forced Speroni into another smart save but it was all in vain.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Puncheon (Kebe 66), Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (O’Keefe 82), Chamakh (Jonathan Williams 85), Jerome. Subs not used: Mariappa, Phillips, Gayle, Price. Booked: Delaney.
WEST HAM UTD: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Collins, Tomkins, Rat (McCartney 78), Noble, Nolan (Joe Cole 58), Downing, Morrison, Diame, Carlton Cole (Maiga 58). Subs not used: Jarvis, Collison, Adrian, Demel. Booked: Tomkins, Morrison.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
Attendance: 23, 891