English Premiership

West Brom withstand Wickham revolt

Tony Pulis (AFP)
Tony Pulis (AFP)

West Bromwich - West Bromwich Albion survived a Connor Wickham-inspired fight back to edge Crystal Palace 3-2 on Saturday and take a big step towards guaranteeing Premier League survival.

Welcoming his former club to The Hawthorns, West Brom manager Tony Pulis saw his side go 3-0 up inside 31 minutes through Craig Gardner, Craig Dawson and Saido Berahinho, who netted a fine volley.

Wickham struck twice in the second half - the second a vicious strike in the 80th minute - but the hosts held on to move above Palace to 13th place and put 11 points between themselves and the bottom three.

Palace, eight points above the drop zone, have now gone 10 league games without victory.

Visiting manager Alan Pardew named the same team that had stunned Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in the FA Cup last weekend, but his plans fell apart as West Brom took the game by the scruff of the neck.

The hosts went ahead in the 12th minute, Gardner following in to score from close range after Salomon Rondon's angled shot from the right was blocked by the feet of Wayne Hennessey.

Gardner turned provider eight minutes later, whipping a free-kick into box from the right that centre-back Dawson met with a well-directed downward header.

West Brom's third goal was a glorious team effort, Rondon spraying the ball wide for Stephane Sessegnon, whose raking 40-yard pass was brilliantly turned in on the volley by the airborne Berahino.

The only blow for West Brom was an injury to Chris Brunt, who was stretchered off shortly before half-time after catching his studs in the turf and appearing to injure his knee.

Brunt hit the headlines last weekend after being struck by a coin thrown from the visiting end following his side's 3-1 FA Cup defeat at second-tier Reading.

Supportive West Brom fans brandished a banner bearing the words 'Brunty, one of us' and chanted his name in the 11th minute, in a nod to his squad number.

Gardner and Berahino hit the woodwork either side of half-time, but in between Wickham reduced the arrears by lofting the ball over Ben Foster and volleying home after a fatal hesitation by Jonas Olsson.

After Yannick Bolasie had seen a persuasive penalty appeal waved away, Wickham claimed his second with a sweet left-foot shot into Foster's top-left corner, but Berahino's lovely goal proved decisive.