West Brom 2-2 Palace
Crystal Palace were denied victory at the Hawthorns by a 93rd minute Berahino penalty on an afternoon steeped in controversy. With the Eagles set to claim their second Premier League away win of the season a horror decision from referee Mark Clattenburg gifted West Brom a chance from the spot.
Jason Puncheon was clearly fouled a mere 3 seconds before the penalty award. Instead Clattenburg allowed play to go on and one pass later he is awarding a penalty when Mile Jedinak clearly took the ball.
It gets worse for the man in the middle. Julian Speroni stayed down in a heap after the first West Brom goal and replays show that he was punched in the face by West Brom centre back Dawson. The Eagles stopper was substituted as a result.
Neil Warnock is in hot water with the FA for his comments about referee Craig Pawson after the Chelsea game last weekend. I see no way that he will not find himself in more trouble this week, for merely stating the obvious about yet another performance of sheer ineptitude from supposedly one of the countries best officials.
Brede Hangeland gave the away side the lead, volleying home after his own header from a corner had been blocked. Skipper Mile Jedinak then converted from the spot in first half injury time after Yannick Bolasie was taken out in the box.
There is simply nowhere else to start. It is easy to get on the referee's back yet often by the time you get home it's all but forgotten. In my head only a handful of awful refereeing displays actually stand out. Rob Shoebridge and the phantom Freddy Sears goal at Ashton Gate being number one on that list. Today's performance from Clattenburg will certainly join the list.
It started early. Wilfried Zaha was blocked off and then hacked down by the same player in the space of 10 seconds, the second taking place on the edge of the penalty area, denying Zaha the chance of cutting the ball back, yet he did not produce a yellow card.
Then Zaha was tripped in the penalty area, a stonewall penalty, a thought that was shared with me by several Baggies after the game, yet Mark told him to get up. Why Palace players aren't appealing, however, is beyond me!
Then came the West Brom opener. In not one scenario does Clattenburg come off well here. It is clear that Dawson has nearly taken Speroni's head off as he attempts to come for the ball. The goal should be disallowed and Dawson should be sent off. If Clattenburg has decided that Speroni wouldn't have been able to get the ball if he hadn't been fouled, as weird as that may be as a justification, he should still send Dawson off. It is extremely dangerous play and the rules are quite clear here.
After a series home team favouring decisions, he then ends with his blockbuster of a decision not to award a foul for a bodycheck on Puncheon that wouldn't have looked out of place on an ice hockey rink. Sure the ball was won but the challenge was dangerous and should have been punished.
I have had West Brom fans telling me that they were disappointed with his display as well. Seems weird that they would be putting a downer on their man of the match.
First Half vs Second Half
In the first half of this match we were amazing. We had West Brom fully under control when they had the ball and we looked dangerous on the break, whilst having a fair amount of the ball as well. The 2-0 half time lead was fully deserved. So what happened in the second half?
You can only blame the referee so much. Sure, without his appalling decisions we would have claimed all 3 points, but we have ourselves to blame to an extent... or more Warnock to blame.
Plan A is usually pretty sound from Warnock. Today we sat a little deeper than usual to nulify the pace of Berahino and played Mariappa at centre back to keep up with the nippy striker incase he did get away. It worked a treat and we limited them to shots from range for the entire first half.
Then at half time it became tactical and yet again Warnock appeared to have no idea what to do. Victor Anichebe came on at half time and he changed the game. He gave them a physical presence up top and held the ball well which bought the rest of the West Brom team further up the field. By the end of the game they were swarming all over us, working off Anichebe's hold up play.
I could see from the stands and tweeted when he came on: "Good change. They need someone to battle with the deep line that we are holding." I have no coaching badges or managerial experience and thus find it extremely hard to believe that someone sitting in our dugout did not see the same thing and think; 'hmmm, maybe we should do something about the fact that he is bullying our back line.' Yet nothing happened.
Meanwhile, Berahnio decided to pull left to use his pace against Martin Kelly and started to expose him when support from Yannick Bolasie disappeared as he faded from the match.
Mariappa was in the middle to handle Berahnio, Berahino moves out left. Kelly is a very physical defender, Anichebe is a very physical centre forward. Is the tactical tweak not obvious. Am I taking crazy pills?
The absolutely superb performance from Chamakh also furthers my belief that Warnock hasn't got a clue. I have had conversations with Palace fans who have only missed a hadful of Palace games between them in the last 25 years and we are all talking about Chamakh being the best player at Palace since Attilio Lombardo, yet Warnock leave him on the bench and doesn't even give him a sniff from the bench.
If Warnock continues to ignore him after that performance...
Man of the Match: Brede Hangeland
Shock horror! He has had a hard time since his arrival at Palace. He has previously looked finished as a footballer but today that was not the case. Got a goal and looked very solid at the back. Read play well, intercepted balls at will and was a rock. Well played, sir.
Not bad at all. Some periods of silence but we had Baggies raving about us all over social media so I guess that we were good enough in their eyes.
Up Next: Sunderland
Massive game. 4 points from today and that that game would have been taken before a ball was kicked...
Come on you Palace.