West Brom ease relegation worries as Pulis gets one over former club
Crystal Palace 0 West Brom 2
West Brom eased any lingering relegation doubts as boss Tony Pulis enjoyed victory over his former club Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Pulis left Selhurst Park on the eve of the new season and there was no mention of the Welshman in Palace chairman Steve Parish's programme notes.
But any remaining bitterness felt by Pulis over his exit was eased as James Morrison headed home unmarked with 100 seconds on the clock and Craig Gardner thrashed home a trademark effort in the second half to seal a 2-0 win for West Brom - their first on the road since November.
In response, Yannick Bolasie almost added to the hat-trick he scored in Palace's 4-1 thrashing of Sunderland last weekend but saw an audacious overhead volley saved - whilst substitute Dwight Gayle hit the crossbar and Yaya Sanogo rightly had a goal chalked-off for offside.
Current Palace boss Alan Pardew had anticipated Pulis would have a 'huge advantage' having worked with the majority of his squad - steering them to an 11th-placed finish last season and earning the Premier League manager of the year award in the process.
And so it proved. Even though Pardew's men went into the game on the back of four straight wins they were shackled by a Baggies side who needed to react following three damaging defeats.
However, the visitors got the best possible start as Morrison evaded Jason Puncheon and was free to head home Chris Brunt's corner from six yards in the second minute.
Palace were not playing in the same free-flowing manner that saw them steamroller Sunderland and their first chance was a tame effort from James McArthur which was easily held by Boaz Myhill.
Things could have got worse for the hosts on 15 minutes as Mile Jedinak looked to trip Victor Anichebe in the box - but referee Jonathan Moss was unmoved by Albion's appeals.
Pardew's wingers started to impact on the game at the midway point of the first-half, with both Wilfried Zaha and Bolasie seeing much more of the ball as the latter saw a close-range shot pushed away by Myhill.
The Welsh goalkeeper was again on hand to deny an acrobatic overhead kick from Bolasie shortly afterwards as the Eagles began to dominate possession.
The hosts still went in behind at the interval, with Pardew making a double change at half-time as he introduced Gayle and Pape Souare in place of Jedinak and Joe Ledley.
But it was the Baggies who struck again as Brunt's corner drifted out to Gardner - who collected the ball before rifling an arrowed shot past Julian Speroni's desperate dive to double his side's advantage.
Gayle should have reduced the arrears almost immediately but could only head against the crossbar from inside the six-yard box after Bolasie's driven cross.
Saido Berahino had been quiet for West Brom but almost added a third as he wriggled free from Damien Delaney and Scott Dann before seeing his effort turned behind by Speroni.
Delaney then came close to giving Palace a lifeline but Myhill claimed his downward header, with substitute Sanogo seeing a tap-in ruled out for offside - with Pardew tasting league defeat for just the fourth time as Palace boss.
For Pulis, his return was a triumphant one but he will be more comforted by the fact his side now sit eight points above the relegation zone.