Review by Will Eldridge (Twitter: @willgeorgejourn)
Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace finally registered a league win – their first since Allardyce took charge six games ago – against AFC Bournemouth. The fact that the victory was achieved on the back of Palace’s first clean sheet in the league for two months, only added to Allardyce’s satisfaction.
Goals by Scott Dann and Christian Benteke might have gone some way to make the manager reconsider his anger towards the scheduling of fixtures on deadline day. After Dann put the visitors ahead immediately after the break, Allardyce’s side held on, before Benteke’s second in added time fired hope they can escape the bottom three.
Allardyce admitted Palace were desperately short of confidence, but insisted he had seen enough in the last two games – home defeats by Everton and Manchester City – to convince him they could turn things around.
Wilfred Zaha was back after his tournament with the Ivory Coast, and quickly offered a glimpse of what Palace had been missing in recent weeks. He created a chance out of nothing, turning twice 20 yards out before sending a low shot against a post.
Eddie Howe’s Cherries had been struggling and they were again exposed at a Palace free-kick, after Jack Wilshere fouled Zaha, only for Benteke to fire well wide. There were worrying signs for Allardyce too however, when first Josh King and then Junior Stanislas saw goalbound efforts deflected narrowly wide.
But Zaha remained the player most likely to break through and he should have done better when he turned Brad Smith, only to send a close-range shot straight at Artur Boruc. For once though, the Ivorian was not involved when Palace did take the lead less than a minute after the restart.
Instead it was the aerial strength of centre-backs Dann and Damien Delaney who combined, with Delaney flicking on Jason Puncheon’s cross to Dann who finished first time. Palace had to hang on though as the Cherries rallied, but Benteke sealed it by heading home substitute Andros Townsend’s cross.