Hammers Fail to Take Points at Palace
By Tom Dowsett
Wednesday 04 Dec 2013 11:22:00
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West Ham United failed to build on Saturday's result against Fulham as they went down 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night to give Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis his first win in charge of the Eagles.

Having hinted that he would make changes for the match in order to accommodate three games in the space of a week, Sam Allardyce restored Joey O'Brien and Rasvan Rat to the starting line-up in place of Guy Demel and George McCartney. Carlton Cole was preferred to Modibo Maiga upfront, making his first start since signing a three-month contract back in October. Matt Jarvis was dropped to the bench in favour of Ravel Morrison.

West Ham dominated most of the first-half but Palace were equal to everything they could throw at them and were certainly making an impression on their new manager.

The closest the hosts went to an early goal was on 14 minutes when Barry Bannan's long range effort just cleared the crossbar.

The best chance for the East Londoners came just after the half hour when a clever freekick routine was lifted over the defensive wall by Mark Noble for club captain Kevin Nolan but the skipper couldn't get a telling touch and the ball went straight into the hands of goalkeeper Julián Speroni.

Minutes later, Cole found himself goalside of his marker but, instead of shooting he crossed for Stewart Downing. The former Liverpool winger was a little surprised that the ball found his feet and took a rather loose touch. In so doing he managed to concede possession and the chance went begging.

West Ham won a free-kick when Mark Noble went down under the challenge of Jason Puncheon. Morrison's set-piece was met by Downing who crossed for Mohamed Diame, but unfortunately for the travelling support his header flew over the bar.

On 42 minutes the Hammers went behind thanks to their former loanee Marouane Chamakh when a corner was awarded when thanks to Joel Ward's shot hitting James Tomkins and going out of play. The set-piece was poor but Bannan crossed back in and the striker headed past Jussi Jaaskelainen to give the home side the advantage going into the break.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, the East Londoners had a chance for an immediate response but Downing saw his shot from Mohamed Diame's cross blocked by Damien Delaney.

Having been shocked with that goal, West Ham started the second 45 minutes with the same tempo as they did in the first. They wasted another good opening on 50 minutes, however, a great team move involving O'Brien, Noble, Downing and Morrison set up Diame who blasted his effort over the top.

Palace squandered a superb chance to make it 2-0 a minute later, when Mile Jedinak's long ball eluded both Tomkins and Jaaskelainen. Instead, the ball fell to Puncheon who's shot deflected off the defender, giving the keeper time to readjust and avert any further danger.

The home side didn't have to wait too long for their next chance to come, but once again they couldn't capitalise, as Jedinak's ball fell to Cameron Jerome, who only had the Finn to beat, Fortunately for the Hammers, however, he made a fine save.

If Unhappy with what he had seen up to this point, Allerdyce replaced Carlton Cole and the skipper with Joe Cole and Maiga.

West Ham fashioned an equaliser when Morrison was brought down by Jedinak. The ball found O'Brien and was fed to Downing, who unleashed a powerful shot past Speroni. It didn't count though, as referee Lee Mason disallowed the effort for the Irish defender's marginal shirt pull on Chamakh, which seemed very harsh on the Hammers.

On 67 minutes it was the home side's turn to feel aggrieved. Following the introduction of Jimmy Kebe, who had replaced Puncheon two minutes earlier, he managed to slot the ball past Jaaskelainen after a free kick from 35 yards, but the effort was ruled out for offside.

After both teams had fashioned further chances, Big Sam made his final change on 79 minutes as Rat was replaced by McCartney.

As five minutes of injury time were added on at the end of the game, West Ham had another offside decision given against them when McCartney was through on goal.

After the added time was up the Hammers were left to reflect on three points they had thrown away. It doesn't get any easier as next up for them is a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on Saturday afternoon. They will be without Morrison, who will serve a one-match ban after the booking he picked up when the referee had blown the final whistle, following a push on Ward.

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