Saido Berahino came off the bench to set an average West Bromwich Albion team on the road to victory and root Crystal Palace firmly to the bottom of the Premier league table.
The England under-21 international replaced the injured Billy Jones and on the stroke of half time controlled a great pull back from Stephane Sessegnon from the left edge of the penalty area before poking the ball home with a left foot volley. The goal was the home team’s first shot on target in a poor first half which saw Palace striker Adlene Guadiora go close with a left foot volley which was saved well by Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill. Guadiora was later stretchered off after a mid air collision with Myhill left him with what looked like damage to his ribs.
The second chance demonstrated why the Eagles are currently facing a long stretch in the relegation zone. Striker Marouane Chamakh received the ball after Baggies midfielder James Morrison was dispossessed in his own half. He strode forward and instead of pulling the trigger, the former Arsenal player attempted to run through two defenders and lost the ball.
The second half started exactly the same as the first with both teams struggling to create openings. Palace grew in confidence and captain Mile Jedinak nodded a corner narrowly wide.
The game was settled in the 83rd minute when Baggies midfielder Chris Brunt whipped in a pinpoint corner from the left and defender Gareth McAuley rose above the Palace defence to power the ball home with his head.
The away team finished the stronger but couldn’t convert any of their chances, a point which caretaker manager Keith Millen highlighted after the match. He said his team were unlucky to leave the Hawthorns empty handed but the defeat leaves Palace firmly fixed to the bottom of the table with just three points to their name. When questioned about a possible successor to the recently departed manager Ian Holloway, Millen said no-one was close to being appointed but the sooner a new manager was put in place, the better it would be for all at the club.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke praised the performance of Saido Berahino but pointed out he was still a young player with much to learn and he didn’t intend to push him too far too soon. When asked about contract negotiations, Clarke said the club was keen to get the England U 21 star tied down with a new contract as soon as possible.
Berahino has scored 10 goals for club and country and being touted as a possible late entry into the full England team for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Clarke was quick to point out that in his opinion his prize asset was not yet ready to step up to Roy Hodgson’s side.