CRYSTAL Palace secured a vital three points with a hard-fought 1-0 win over West Ham United tonight. Maroaune Chamakh was the matchwinner in the first half, guiding home a header from Barry Bannan's superb cross, and they had chances in the second period to double their lead too. It was a big win heading into Saturday's game against Cardiff City in SE25, and it lifts the Eagles off the bottom of the Premier League and on ten points. Another three points against the Welsh side at the weekend will put them level on points too. The Eagles started brightly, with Cameron Jerome and Maroaune Chamakh looking to combine in attack, while Barry Bannan nearly carved out a chance when he crossed to the back post but it went out for a goal-kick. West Ham tried to respond when Razvan Rat came in from the left and tried to curl into the top corner but sent it way over Julian Speroni's goal. Joey O'Brien then sent in a dangerous ball from the right but Joel Ward did brilliantly to get a head to the ball before Carlton Cole. Damien Delaney was the first into the referee's notebook on the half-hour mark for chopping down Ravel Morrison 25-yards out. And from the free-kick, Stewart Downing fooled everyone by chipping the ball over the top to Kevin Nolan, who couldn't get a clean connection on the ball and Speroni saved. The visitors cranked up the pressure and should have perhaps taken the lead ten minutes before the break when Cole burst into the box from the left, and instead of shooting, played a pass across the face of goal which Downing failed to convert after pressure from Delaney. A minute later, they went even closer to drawing first blood. Downing delivered a superb ball in from the left and Mohammed Diame rose above everyone to head narrowly over the crossbar. But as what happens in football so much, you can score against the run of play – and it was Palace who got the first goal in this London derby through Marouane Chamakh. Barry Bannan delivered in a low corner, which came back out to him, and the Scottish international delivered a pinpoint cross for the former Arsenal (and West Ham loan man) to power home a header past Jussi Jaaskelainen. Selhurst Park erupted – and so did Chamakh, who told the Advertiser in the summer he was promised game time by Hammers boss Sam Allardyce last season but didn't get it. Into the second period and Palace had three golden opportunities to extend their lead. First, Jerome raced onto a ball over the top, and with Jaaskelainen racing out, he played the ball back to Chamakh. The Moroccan teed up Puncheon inside the box and saw an effort deflect off James Collins and onto the post. Then a ball back into the box found Kagisho Dikgacoi inside the six-yard box, but he couldn't quite keep his header down as it narrowly went over. Their third chance just 40 seconds later fell to Jerome, who raced through on goal, skipping Collins' challenge, but he was denied by Jaaskelainen. When the ball came back out, he and Chamakh got in a tangle and the ball was cleared. West Ham thought they had got back into the match on the hour when Stewart Downing fired home, but the assistant referee's flag was up for a foul by O'Brien following a cross. Jimmy Kebe replaced Puncheon for the hosts soon after, and the winger had the ball in the back of the net from 12-yards out, but Jedinak had been flagged for a marginal offside decision. Speroni at the other end had to be alert, getting down well to hold on to Downing curling free-kick, while Ravel Morrison dragged a shot wide on the volley. Dikgacoi unleased a good effort towards the top corner from range for the Eagles, while Stuart O'Keefe then came on for the influential Bannan. Jonny Williams also came on minutes later for goalscorer Chamakh, and the diminutive midfielder got a huge reception back at Selhurst since injury in September, as did the Moroccan for his goal. The Hammers went close to equalising when James Collins headed wide from a corner, while five minutes of added time was awarded to set up a nervous ending. Kebe should have wrapped things up at the death when he beat Jaaskelainen to the ball, and as he swivelled under pressure, he sent an effort just over with an empty net to aim at. But the final whistle came despite late West Ham pressure and Selhurst Park erupted. However, there will surely be action taken against Ravel Morrison, who was caught on television clearly pushing Joel Ward in the face as the players celebrated. A yellow card was given, but the midfielder looks likely to be in hot water with the Football Association. Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (O'Keefe 82), Puncheon (Kebe 66), Chamakh (Williams 85), Jerome. Subs Not Used: Price, Mariappa, Gayle, Phillips. Attendance: 23,891 By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson
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