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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
14:41 28th February 2014


Palace enjoyed a fine afternoon in east London as they ran out 3-1 winners against West Ham United at Upton Park to chalk up their fifth successive win on the road.

The visitors bossed the majority of the game and were well worth the scoreline. A combination of Glenn Murray's header and a sliced clearance by Aaron Cresswell gave Alan Pardew's side a half-time lead, before headers from Scott Dann and Murray put the game to bed.

Even a red card for Murray and a consolation from Enner Valencia couldn't spoil Palace's day, as the Eagles extended their unbeaten run on their travels to five successive Premier League games for the first time in their history.

A tepid start saw neither side trouble the scorers early on, although Cresswell nearly found the net in fortuitous circumstances on 11 minutes when his cross drifted goalwards and narrowly missed Julian Speroni's top corner, rippling the top of the net.

The Hammers came close two minutes later after Jason Puncheon conceded a foul just outside the Palace area, and Mark Noble whipped a fizzing free-kick over the wall and struck the crossbar, and Speroni was pleased to see the ball sail into the stand after cracking off the woodwork.

A scrappy start meant that the visitors struggled to find any sort of rhythm but in the 25th minute they began to take a stranglehold on the game. Firstly the returning Mile Jedinak slid a ball into Puncheon's path and he in turn allowed Murray to get into the area, but after being forced wide the off-balance striker could only blaze wide from a tight angle.

Five minutes later and Murray once again got in behind the West Ham backline after another Puncheon pass and drilled a shot straight at Adrian, and he had a third bite of the cherry on 38 minutes when he got a yard of space away from James Tomkins and forced the hosts' Spanish stopper to save with his feet.

But on 40 minutes he contributed to Palace's opening goal. A Puncheon corner was tamely headed goalwards by Murray and Cresswell went to clear it in front of his own goalkeeper but could only slice it past Adrian and into his own net. Initially credited to the Palace attacker, it will certainly keep the Dubious Goals Panel busy next week.

Despite the uncertainty over the scorer, the visitors deserved the lead and just six minutes into the second half they extended it. A brilliant corner by Puncheon was swept towards the back post and  Dann dominated Winston Reid in the air to power a header into the top corner, which Adrian got a hand to but couldn't keep out.

It was looking like a memorable away day for the hoards of Palace fans in the away end, and they were nearly celebrating again when Jedinak saw a free-kick from 25 yards flash past Adrian's far post, but they were full of cheers just after the hour mark when their side netted a third.

Once again a brilliant delivery by Puncheon from a free-kick on the left was met by Murray and this time the striker buried a brilliant diving header into the net that won't need any verification from the authorities.

Luck was on Palace's side too as Nene was the next Hammer to strike the upright when he bent a shot around Dann but clattered the post, but Murray's day turned sour when he was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a challenge on Reid inside the West Ham box and will now miss the midweek trip to Southampton.

With a man advantage, Sam Allardyce's side did pull back a consolation on 76 minutes when Downing teed up Valencia on the edge of the box who blasted toward goal, and although Speroni got a hand to it he couldn't stop it finding its way into the net.

That brought about a barrage of chances for the home side, with Diafra Sakho heading over from close range, Carl Jenkinson forcing Speroni to block at his near post and Downing striking the side-netting in quick succession as the hosts cranked up the pressure.

The Palace custodian was forced into a spectacular full-stretch save with four minutes to go when Valencia tried his luck from 35 yards which was heading for the top corner but for the Argentinian's fine stop that pushed the ball wide of the post and ensured there was no nervy end for Pardew's men.

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell, Song (Nene 61), Kouyate, Noble, Downing, Valencia, Sakho. Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Collins, Demel, Jarvis, Nolan.

Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Delaney, Dann, Ward, Jedinak, Mutch (McArthur 33), Bolasie (Ledley 82), Puncheon, Zaha (Ameobi 71), Murray. Subs not used: Hennessey, Souare, Hangeland, Gayle.