Connor Wickham scored twice as Palace Under-23s came from behind to beat West Bromwich Albion for their first win on the road since December.
- West Brom score after five minutes to take an early lead.
- Connor Wickham equalises for Palace from James Taylor’s set piece.
- Wickham scores his second from the spot after Rob Street is brought down.
- HT: West Brom 1-2 Palace
- Street strikes the woodwork from a difficult angle.
- Wickham hits the post from a free-kick, inches away from completing his hattrick.
- FT: West Brom 1-2 Palace
The hosts’ started on the front foot, putting the ball under instant pressure and winning free-kicks inside the Palace half. Their positivity was rewarded with an early goal, when a low shot evaded Ollie Webber and gave West Brom the lead.
It looked as if West Brom might build on their lead, with Jamie Soule forcing the goalkeeper into a smart save.
But Palace fought back to parity just ten minutes later, Wickham making the most of his experience to convert from close range, after James Taylor’s set-piece delivery.
Much like against Sunderland last week, Wickham’s quality was evident and he was a constant danger for the Baggies back-line, seeing efforts from the edge of the area blocked or forced behind.
Palace’s sustained pressure began to tell, as they won a flurry of corners to keep the hosts pinned inside their own half. Soon, it paid off.
After Rob Street was brought down in the penalty area, up stepped Wickham to score his second, and double Palace’s lead. It completed an impressive turnaround after their early set-back, and meant Shaun Derry’s side went in at half-time with a lead to protect.
West Brom emerged determinedly, and forced the first save of the second-half after Cheik Diaby’s effort from the angle. The Eagles were quick to respond however, and created the better chances once again. Street came closest, striking the wordwork from a difficult angle on the right-hand side.
Moments later, Wickham was inches from completing his hattrick in spectacular fashion. Striking a free-kick from the edge of the area, he saw his shot smack the post and stay out by the barest of margins. It was the last significant action in another impressive showing, as he was withdrawn with 20 minutes remaining to be replaced by prolific Under-18s striker David Omilabu.
The two sides exchanged forays into each other’s final thirds, as Street and Kyle Edwards went close at either end.
In the end it was Palace who came closest, with Jay Rich-Baghuelou’s effort from inside the six-yard box flashing wide, after the hosts’ had failed to clear another dangerous set-piece. Edwards and Owen Windsor registered efforts at goal as the Baggies threw everything at an equaliser, but it proved too little, too late.
It marked an important victory for Shaun Derry’s side and an important win on the road, as they look to finish the season as strongly as possible.
West Brom: Cann (GK), Joshua, Shotton, White, Gardner-Hickman, King, Trialist (Solanke, 55), Brown, Edwards, Diaby (Windsor, 61), Soule (Thorndike, 75).
Subs: Boruc (GK), Sharpe.
Palace: Webber (GK), D. Boateng, Hannam, Taylor, O’Brien, Rich-Baghuelou, Wells-Morrison (M. Boateng, 62), Dreher (Matthews, 87), Street, Spence, Wickham (Omilabu, 72).
Subs: Whitworth (GK), Russell.