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West Ham United
12 April 2014
• Selhurst Park, London
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 25564
J. Puncheon 76'
Thanks for being with us, I've been Greg Taylor, have a great Saturday evening.
Villa meanwhile remain in the relegation scrap and their fans were given a brief insight into life without Benteke. They looked rudderless all afternoon and Lambert has some serious work on his hands.
FULL TIME: Palace hold on for a vital three points and are now surely guaranteed their safety. Jason Puncheon's sixth goal of the season was enough to give them their 11th win of the season and moves them up to 12th in the league table.
90' + 3'
Offside for Murray and Villa have one last chance to get the ball forward.
90' + 1'
There will be three minutes of aded time. Villa really are pressing for an equaliser, Clark again goes close but Speroni saves well.
WHAT A SAVE! Lowton delivers brilliantly towards Holt who deftly flicks it on for Weimann who hits it first time but Speroni makes a great reaction save to keep his side ahead. Weimann can't believe it, he thought he'd scored.
PUN TIME: Crystal Palace are Puncheon above their weight. Any takers, no? I'm here all night, well for another 10 minutes.
POST! Brilliant by Puncheon again, he skips past Clark down the right, gets into the six yard box and turns his man and drills a low shot onto the foot of the post. Almost 2-0.
Villa are slipping to a fourth straight defeat and if they're not careful will be dragged into the relegation scrap. With Fulham and Cardiff winning, Lambert will be looking anxiously over his shoulder.
Karim El Ahmadi
WHAT A MISS! He's not the player he was is Holt, Westwood slips the former Norwich man in, but he fails to even get a touch from just six yards out and wastes another golden opportunity.
It's been all Palace since the 30th minute, Villa have looked poor when going forward and even with Delph's return from injury, they haven't looked like scoring all afternoon. Without Benteke they look toothless.
What a good signing Puncheon ha sturned out to be. Three goals in two game snow for the winger and Palace deserved that goal. The fans sing "We Are Staying Up" and if it stays like this, they'd go 12th in the table.
Assist Yannick Bolasie
Goal Jason Puncheon
GOAL! Bolasie who has been causing problems all afternoon beats Lowton down the left, chips the ball into the six yard box, and Puncheon takes a touch and drills it low and in off the post past Guzan.
Last season's topscorer Glenn Murray is about to join the action, you'd expect he'd replace Jerome who has been pretty dire today. Puncehon almost gets a shot away on the edge of the box but Baker gets in an important block.
Bertrand is booked shortly after clipping Puncheon's heels as the Palace forward looked to break forward.
Yellow Card Ryan Bertrand
Villa are penned in for the time being, it's all Palace. You'd expect one of the managers to make a change soon, Palace to add more fire power and Villa to shore up the defence.
Palace players are left fuming after they think they've won a penalty as Howard Webb points to the spot but changes his mind after he spoke to his assistant. Bolasie crossed the ball into the box but it hit Clark's chest. Another good decision by Webb.
DiID YOU KNOW: Despite Palace's poor record going forward, Pulis has done a fine job defenisvely with his side. They have the division's worst goalscoring record but the fifth best defensive record - conceding fewer goals than league leaders Liverpool.
Baker brings down Puncheon and Palace have a free kick in a good position. Puncheon takes it himself and it's a good effort but Guzan is equal to it and parries the ball to safety.
Yellow Card Nathan Baker
CLOSE! Bolasie has looked bright all afternoon and he comes very close to breaking the deadlock. He finds space on the edge of the box and drills a low effort towards goal, it beats Guzan but is inches wide of the post.
Controversy here as Guzan looks to throw the ball out early but Jedinak obstructs him, the keeper gets frustrated and kicks out at the Australian. Howard Webb was running away and didn't see it, he could easily have been sent of the Villa stopper.
Going back to the miss by Jerome. You can see why Palace have scored a mere 23 goals this season, the lowest in the league. If they could get one or two decent forwards in the summer they'd be a much better outfit.
Vila just inches away from going behind but they come on the attack again. Bertrand on the left is becoming a real threat down that flank, he gets beyond Mariappa again but his delivery is poor.
CROSSBAR! Bolasie does brilliantly he beats Vlaar with a step over in the box, he tries to chip Guzan but the American tips it away but only to Jerome who has the simplest of tasks from two yards out, but somehow he hits the crossbar and Vila survive.
Bertrand gets down the left and delivers a good ball into the box but Dann nods it away to safety. Villa have started the better of the two sides this half. There's still a pre-season friendly feel to the game but at least there's a bit more action.
SHOT! Agbonlahor shoots from the edge of the box, he gets good power behind it but Speroni is well positioned and comfortably holds the ball.
Positive start by both sides with Jerome going close for Palace and El Ahmadi almost getting round the back of the Palace back four.
Villa kick off in their white away kit, can either side up their game and break the deadlock?
The players are out on the pitch, we'll be back underway shortly.
Palace fans will feel they deserved a penalty when Bolasie was tripped by Holt in the box, but there was minimal contact and Howard Webb ignored the calls. I'm sure the fans and managers will hope for more quality in the second half.
HALF TIME: Not the greatest advert for the Premier League as both sides have looked very poor so far this afternoon. Villa were on top for much of the first half but were unable to create a goal scoring opportunity. Palace grew into the game after replacing Dikgacoi and finished the half well on top.
45' + 1'
Back underway, Lowton is back on his feet and will try and continue until half time at least. Delph tries one from distance but it's an easy save for Speroni.
Good play by Palace, they're really stepped it up in the last ten minutes and Villa really are holding on. Lowton has gone down off the ball and will receive treatment.
Puncheon fools Delph twice and delivers another ball into the box, Bolasie this time meets it with a header but it's a simple save for Guzan. The home side are really pressing for a goal now.
CLOSE! Great first time delivery from Mariappa towards Chamakh but he's put off by Bolasie, his own team mate, and heads it wide.
PENALTY APPEAL! Not a great free kick, but it falls to Bolasie in the box who is tripped by Holt but Howard Webb, the man in black today, ignores the appeals and waves play on. Good decision.
Puncheon spreads it wide to Ward on the left, he slips it inside to Ledley but Westwood chops him down from behind and Palace have a free kick in a dangerous position. Can they test Guzan or even score?
Villa continue to dominate possession but struggle to create anything meaningful. They've seen 67 per cent of the ball in the opening half hour but have had just two attempts on goal.
STAT ATTACK: Jason Puncheon's opening goal against Cardiff last weekend was Palace's first from open play in 10 hours and 34 minutes. So let's hope for a penalty or set piece. Funnily enough, Palace do have a free kick but it's 70 yards from goal.
It's been a very scrappy and low quality affair so far. Can either side get their act together and break the deadlock before half time. Throw in to Palace near the Villa box.
Nasty moment for Delph as he Mariappa go in for a 50/50 but the young Englishman is caught by the Palace man. He looks ok though and the game continues.
Puncheon looks early for Jerome who is playing on the shoulder but Vlaar reads it and nods it down to Clark. Palace have yet to really muster a goalscoring chance.
Villa are suddenly very much on top, I wonder if the forced substitution has disrupted the home side. Westwood beats his man and crosses from the right with Holt waiting, but the former Norwich man heads it wide.
GREAT SAVE! Villa have another corner, whipped in by Westwood, it falls to Clark who heads it back across goal but Speroni leaps to his right and tips it away.
CHANCE! Not a great corner, but it comes out to Delph who lays it back to Lowton, he crosses towards the back post and Clark is there to meet it but Delaney beats him to it and heads it out for another corner.
So Chamakh does replace the injured Dikgacoi and we're back under way. Delph plays it inside to Vlaar who looks long toward Holt but again it's a hopeful ball which causes some panic in the Palace defence and Villa have the games first corner.
Pulis, with his infamous baseball cap, is barking orders at his players, they haven't really got going yet. Chamakh has taken his tracksuit off, it looks like he'll be coming on for Dikgacoi who has picked up an injury.
CHANCE! The home fans to continue to sing despite the lack of action. Bolasie does really well down the left, he beats Baker and cuts the ball back for Puncheon but it falls to Clark who kicks it out to safety.
FACT: Villa have gone five away games without a win and taken only five points from their last eight trips. They had earned 12 points from their first seven away fixtures of the season.
Delph does well to go past Jedinak in the middle and switches the ball to El Ahmadi but his touch lets him down and Palace have a throw. The game is stuck in midfield at the moment, no creativity in the final third.
Neither side have created anything of note yet, you get the feel this may be a scrappy affair, won by a scruffy goal. Villa have settled well despite the noise of the Palace faithful. Jerome beats his man and feeds Puncheon on the edge of the area but the winger's touch is poor and Villa regain possession.
Puncheon, fresh from scoring two goals last weekend, almost releases Jerome down the right but Clark nicks it off the Palace forward. Villa break but Baker is brought down for a free kick.
Jedinak tries a clever through ball to Jerome but Vlaar reads the situation and intercepts the pass. The Villa captain brings the ball out of defence and spreads it wide to Clark on the left.
Fantastic atmosphere, the home fans are in good voice. Villa start well, quick passing along the back line, ends up in a throw near the Palace box.
A few idiotic fans ruin the minutes silence by shouting out, but Palace get us underway in their familiar blue and red home strip.
The players are out on the pitch, we'll be underway shortly.
STAT ATTACK: Crystal Palace have taken 19 points from their 10 home games under Tony Pulis (W6, D1, L3). Can they make it 22 from 11 and pretty much guarantee Premier League safety?
Lambert also drops a number of players including Andreas Weimann, Marc Albrighton, Joe Bennett or Leandro Bacuna. Can the players replacing them make an impact?
With Benteke out for six months, Holt will start upfront and will be aided by the return of Agbonlahor. The classic big man little man up top may be able to spring a few surprises on the Palace defence.
Tony Pulis keeps faith with the ide that defeated Cardiff last weekend but Paul Lambert reacts to his team's disappointing defeat to Fulham by making four changes.
SUBSTITUTES: Steer, Bennett, Sylla, Albrighton, Tonev, Bowery, Weimann
VILLA: Guzan, Baker, Vlaar, Clark, Lowton, Bertrand, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, Holt
SUBSTITUTES: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Parr, Ince, Gayle, Murray, Chamakh
PALACE: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bolasie, Puncheon, Ledley, Jerome
Before we go any further, let's have a look at how both sides are lining up, starting with the home side.
Paul Lambert however will be hoping for an up turn in his sides fortunes. Since beating Chelsea at Villa Park they've lost three on the bounce and with safety all but secured, you wonder if his players are mentally already on their holidays. Both teams, however, start the day seven points clear of the bottom three so we should be in for a close encounter.
So today it's 13th versus 14th and if Palace can win again they'll leapfrog today's visitors. After last weeks superb 3-0 away win at Cardiff, Eagles manager Tony Pulis has no new injuries to contend with and will hope for a similar result this afternoon.
Before we get into the action, please remember all fixtures kick off at 3.07pm today as the game pays tribute to the 96 fans who tragically lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago. There will also be a minute's silence before the match.
Hello and welcome to this afternoon's LIVE play-by-play commentary of the Premier League as Crystal Palace host Aston Villa here at Selhurst Park. My name is Greg Taylor and I'll be guiding you through all the action.
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