Chamakh gives Palace vital win over Hammers

Sutton Guardian: Heads I win: Marouane Chamakh's header settled the London derby with West Ham United in the Eagles' favour Heads I win: Marouane Chamakh's header settled the London derby with West Ham United in the Eagles' favour

MAROUANE Chamakh’s winner late in the first half secured Crystal Palace a vital 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers West Ham.

Chamakh settled the game in the Eagles’ favour with a glancing header three minutes before the break to ensure Palace picked up only their third win of the season.

New boss Tony Pulis named an unchanged starting XI and bench from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Norwich and as expected there were plenty of long throw-ins, speculative punts forward and free-kicks conceded by both sides in the early exchanges.

Palace had the first effort on goal after quarter of an hour as Barry Bannan’s curling shot from inside the area flew harmlessly over.

Shortly afterwards Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen had to get down low to gather Jason Puncheon’s 20-yard low drive before Razvan Rat blasted off target at the other end.

Damien Delaney was yellow carded for a late challenge on Ravel Morrison as he burst forward and Stewart Downing’s free-kick over the Palace wall picked out Kevin Nolan, but his first-time volley was easily saved by Julian Speroni.

Carlton Cole beat the offside trap on 36 minutes but his low ball across the box was badly controlled by Downing and Delaney got back to clear the danger.

They went close again when Downing’s delivery picked out Mohammed Diame, whose header flew agonisingly over Speroni’s bar.

But it was the Eagles who made the vital breakthrough three minutes before the break.

Joel Ward saw an effort charged down and put behind by James Tomkins and although Bannan’s corner was poor, he redeemed himself by whipping in a cross which Chamakh glanced home with his head despite two West Ham defenders being on the line.

It was almost 1-1 on the stroke of half-time but fortunately for the hosts Delaney was able to get a vital block on Downing’s goal-bound effort.

Palace had a trio of early second half opportunities to double their advantage as Puncheon’s shot was deflected onto the post, Kagisho Dikgacoi headed just over from Bann’s delivery and Jerome fired straight at Jaaskelainen after bursting through.

Downing had the ball in the net after smashing a shot past Speroni from inside the box but the linesman had already signalled a foul on Chamakh so Palace survived the scare.

Pulis made his first change midway through the second period by replacing Puncheon with Jimmy Kebe.

Speroni got down low to gather Downing’s 20 yard free-kick on 74 minutes which beat the Eagles wall maybe a bit too easily.

Dikgacoi placed a long range effort straight at Jaaskelainen and then the impressive Bannan was substituted by Stuart O’Keefe with eight minutes remaining before Chamakh made way for Jonny Williams three minutes later.

Kebe should have made it 2-0 in stoppage time after flicking the ball past Jaaskelainen just inside the box but then firing over the bar.

There was controversy after the final whistle as Morrison appeared to push Ward in the face but most of the ground were too busy celebrating the win to notice.

So the perfect start for Pulis in his first home game.

Back-to back wins here against Cardiff on Saturday will give everyone renewed and genuine hope survival could be possible.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (O’Keefe 82), Puncheon (Kebe 66), Chamakh (Williams 85), Jerome. Subs not used: Price, Mariappa, Phillips, Gayle. Att: 23,891.

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