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Bouncing Baggies clip Eagles' wings

BOUNCING: Salomon Rondon (left) put West Brom in front

IN HIS programme notes Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew said: “We are in unchartered territory because this is our fourth successive season in the Premier League and while I see some of our supporters on social media talking up our chances of a top-eight finish and chasing European football, my focus now is on getting to the 40-point mark and then reassessing our ambitions from there.”

Contrast that view with Palace chairman, Steve Parish, whose notes read: “The aim for this year is to try and get back into the top half of the table as we did so superbly back in 2015/16” you soon realize that Palace fans have not bought 18,000 season tickets for the first time ever with an objective of the team being just to avoid relegation.

Whatever Palace’s goal is they are going to have to cure their homesickness, which appears to have persisted from last season as they narrowly lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion. Palace dominated possession at home without creating enough clear-cut chances.

On 8 minutes Craig Gardner crossed from the left side but Saloman Rondon’s header was pushed away by keeper Wayne Hennessey who has kept his shirt for now. After so much expectation for the new season the first half turned out to be a non-event as both teams were simply sparring in the heat.

In the second half things improved slightly for the hosts as Wilfried Zaha was played through by Chung-Yong Lee and was one on one with Ben Foster, but he took too many touches and hesitated, which gave Foster the chance to smother his shot. When the ball came back to Zaha from the rebound his second shot was also blocked by the Baggies’ defence.

Palace debutant Andros Townsend twisted and turned but could only direct his shot over the bar. With a quarter of the game remaining, West Brom were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Palace area, which taken by James McClean. Saloman Rondon soared above the ball-watching Palace defence and headed the ball into the right hand corner of Hennessey’s goal to give the Baggies the lead.

Palace rung the changes but for the second consecutive season Tony Pulis has come back to his former club and stolen the points yet again.

Post-match a disappointed Pardew said: “Our record of getting goals in the second half of games is not great. We lacked a cutting edge today. If we had got the first goal we would have won. I thought our defence was strong.”

Tony Pullis said:” We thought it was going to be difficult as it is the opening game of the season. Saido (Berahino) was good today and I think the two of them (Rondo) could be a real handful. He was clever today and we have got to get him back to what he was when he first came here.

"Saido was pivotal to our staying up in my first season here. The club will not let Saido go unless someone comes in. We will try to get him back to the way he was. Obviously we lost him last season. The club has almost stagnated and need to get on the front foot. The players are fantastic but they need competition.We need a bit of an impetus. It is a big two weeks for me and this football club.”

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