Report: Crystal Palace 3 Albion 0Ten men Albion went down 3-0 on a forgettable day at Selhurst Park.
The result did not tell the full story as Lewis Dunk was shown a red card in the seventh minute, but it was Glenn Murray who proved to be the thorn in Albion's side, scoring a brace and winning two penalties.
Albion settled quicker in South London but it did not take long for the pendulum to swing in the home side’s favour when Dunk was dismissed for a professional foul.
Having miscontrolled the ball, Dunk then chopped down Yannick Bolasie, who had pounced on the Albion defender's slip. Referee Mick Russell had no hesitation in sending the young Albion defender off.
It could have got worse with the resulting free-kick, taken by Owen Garvan, which bounced back off Tomasz Kuszczak’s crossbar.
Albion were forced to re-shuffle but they restricted the home side to shots from distance throughout the first half, with Kuszczak comfortably saving efforts from Bolasie, and a further close-range shot from Kagisho Dikgacoi.
But in the 38th minute the Albion defence was breached by former Seagull Murray, on his return from suspension.
Bolasie delivered an in-swinging corner from the Albion right, and Murray met the ball at the front post with a glancing header past Kuszczak.
A tough task got even harder for Albion and heads could have dropped, but they galvanised and came right back at the Eagles.
Liam Bridcutt delivered a in-swinging cross from the right and Ashley Barnes got in front of his marker, but the striker’s glancing header was beaten away to safety by Palace keeper Julian Speroni.
Gus Poyet reshuffled at the break and dropped Bridcutt to left-back, and within two minutes of the re-start the Seagulls had another great chance to pull level; Barnes dispossessed Wilfried Zaha and played in Mackail-Smith down the middle of the pitch. He then raced in on goal but hit the post from an acute angle.
And that miss would prove costly as Palace doubled their lead from the spot six minutes later, with more than an element of luck involved.
The ball ricocheted off Greer and Bruno straight into the path of Murray 12 yards out; he attempted to go round the on-rushing Kuszczak before throwing himself to the ground. Russell pointed to spot and Murray stepped up to fire the ball into the bottom left corner.
Murray could have rounded off his afternoon with a hat-trick when he got in front of Inigo Calderon to meet Bolasie’s cross, but his header sailed over from six yards.
The afternoon got worse for Albion players and fans alike when Russell awarded Palace their second penalty of the afternoon and again it was Murray at the heart of the action.
A deep cross was heading out for a goal-kick when Greer and Murray clashed into the area. Neither player seemed fazed by the incident but Russell adjudged it to be a foul by the Albion skipper. Garvan stepped up this time and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
The game was all but over for the Seagulls yet there was time to create a half chance when Mackail-Smith attempted an audacious overhead kick from 18 yards, which Speroni claimed with relative ease.
The Seagulls will look to move on from this game and go again in South London when they take on Charlton Athletic next Saturday.