- Albion suffer first Premier League defeat in four in a feisty local derby
- Jordan Ayew wins it for Palace 20 minutes from time
- Albion made to pay after squandering several chances either side of the break
- Seagulls in action again next Saturday against Wolves at Molineux
Jordan Ayew’s goal with 20 minutes to go completed Palace’s smash-and-grab raid and their first top-flight win in the derby, but the Seagulls should have been in control by then after wasting some excellent chances.
Solly March and Neal Maupay were guilty of the worst misses and when Lewis Dunk’s header hit Maupay on the line just after the break, it summed up a frustrating afternoon in front of goal.
Graham Potter’s side had 24 shots, eight on target, but Vincent Guaita in the Palace goal produced a faultless handling display in the blustery conditions, and as Albion squandered opportunities there was always a concern that Palace, who have an excellent record against teams below them in the league, could strike to leave Albion still in search of their first win in 2020.
There had been three changes for Albion. Martin Montoya, Leandro Trossard and March all returned with Glenn Murray and Ezequiel Schelotto dropping to the bench. Shane Duffy dropped out of the squad because of a family bereavement.
Albion fans created a great atmosphere at kick-off, but Palace should have gone ahead in the fifth minute. Maty Ryan hesitated when a long ball dropped to Benteke and was relieved to see the striker volley badly off target when he had more space than he realised.
Palace started with Wilfried Zaha on the right but when Benteke’s pass sent him into space, Dan Burn made up a couple of yards to dispossess Palace’s talisman, to the home fans evident pleasure. However, the visitors had another clear sight of goal in the 11th minute, but Ryan was out quickly to block Cheikhou Kouyate’s close-range shot.
Albion stirred and threatened for the first time in the 18th minute. Montoya’s pass found Maupay, who went for the near post and Guaita pushed his shot away for a corner which Dunk met without getting decent contact. Albion recycled possession and March, who had switched to the right, drilled a low shot straight but it was straight at the keeper.
Four minutes later Dunk got on the end of another corner from Aaron Mooy, and his header had to be hooked clear on the near post by Patrick van Aanholt. Guaita was now much busier as he saved March’s drive at the near post before making a more comfortable stop when Maupay tried to guide Montoya’s pass into the corner.
Schelotto was booked after an incident involving Zaha while he was warming-up, but Albion were getting on top and should have scored in the 36th minute. Maupay’s pass down the left freed Trossard and his cross was perfectly weighted for March, arriving on the far post, but he found the side netting with a right-foot shot with Albion fans off their feet and ready to acclaim a goal.
After Gary Cahill’s header at a Palace corner bounced up and over, March had another sight of goal before the break when Davy Propper, on his 100th appearance, picked out his run, but his shot was straight at Guaita.
Albion had another wonderful chance three minutes after the break. Once again Palace struggled with Mooy’s corner which the unmarked Dunk met with a header that was going in only to unintentionally strike team-mate Maupay on the goal-line. Trossard then found space, but his shot didn’t have enough bend on it to threaten Guaita.
Albion were making all the running and Maupay squandered another opportunity in the 55th minute when Mooy’s pass looped up off a defender into his path 12 yards out, but his right-foot volley was straight at Guaita.
It was almost one-way traffic in Albion’s favour, but they had a scare when Benteke intercepted March’s back pass but Ryan stood tall to block Benteke’s shot at goal. March then did superbly to create space, only to see his wild shot sailed over the bar. Moments later he was replaced by Glenn Murray.
Guaita’s handling was secure again when Maupay wriggled into space and let fly before he dealt with Mooy’s deflected effort.
Palace then landed a sucker punch in the 70th minute. Benteke made a great run before slipping a reverse pass to Ayew, and although Ryan made a partial block, his shot had enough power to squeeze inside the far post.
Alireza Jahanbaksh replaced Montoya and Alzate came on for Yves Bissouma, but Albion had run out of steam and nearly conceded again in stoppage time, however Zaha hit the post with the goal gaping after Cenk Tosun had put him clear on goal.
In terms of effort and commitment Albion could have given no more, but they fell short where it mattered most.
ALBION: Ryan; Montoya (Jahanbakhsh 76), Webster, Dunk, Burn; Propper, Mooy; Trossard, Bissouma (Alzate 81), March (Murray 66); Maupay.
SUBS NOT USED: Button, Stephens, Gross, Schelotto.