Crystal Palace’s winless start to 2016 in the Premier League continued as they were beaten 3-2 at West Brom.
Tony Pulis got one over on his former side at the Hawthorns as they led 3-0 at the break, following a poor showing from the visitors, who were resurgent in the second period.
Craig Gardner put the home side ahead before Craig Dawson and Saido Berahino added to the tally – and it could have been more.
Alan Pardew must have got stuck into his men at the interval as they came out fighting and Connor Wickham’s double gave them hope of salvaging a point, but the Baggies held on.
It took Albion just 12 minutes to open the scoring as Salomon Rondon’s low shot was parried by Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, fortuitously into the path of Gardner who finished low into the open goal.
Gardner soon turned provider as Dawson made it two just eight minutes later when he powerfully headed home the former Villa midfielder’s free-kick from the right-hand side.
With 31 minutes on the clock, the Baggies grabbed a third as Berahino – who said this week that he regretted his strike threats earlier in the season – got on the end of Stephane Sessegnon’s pinpoint cross and the former England Under-21 international directed the ball past Henessey with a well-controlled volley.
Chris Brunt, who was struck by a coin by his own fans last weekend, was stretchered off after 43 minutes to a standing ovation, with the home fans showing their support for the Northern Irishman, partly in relation to last week’s events.
The first half was all one-way traffic and West Brom could have put the game out of sight as Gardner’s set piece was difficult to deal with and it deflected off Palace defender Joel Ward and onto the post.
Out-of-sorts Palace made a change at the interval, introducing Yannick Bolasie and they soon looked back in the game.
Wickham’s goal came on 48 minutes as he capitalised on dreadful defending by Jonas Olsson, lobbing Ben Foster and finishing into an empty net. That was only Palace’s second goal from a striker in open play all season and it gave them a fighting chance of a comeback.
The home side could have folded but they did well to overcome a dominant spell for the visitors, before coming close to extending their lead, first Berahino and then Sessegnon missing chances.
The pressure on the Baggies was cranked up as Wickham bagged another with ten minutes left on the clock, the former Sunderland striker driving a stunning half-volley across goal and into the top corner. But it was too little too late for Palace, who drop below West Brom to 14th.