THE HONEYMOON is over for Alan Pardew as Crystal Palace lost for the first time under his reign as manager, beaten 1-0 by Everton in a drab Premier League clash at Selhurst Park in the Premier League.
Romelu Lukaku's second minute tap-in was all that separated that two sides on a frustrating afternoon for the Eagles, whose final ball time and time again was found lacking in what was in truth, a poor spectacle and Everton's first Premier League win since December 15.
Dwight Gayle replaced Wilfried Zaha in the only change from last weekend's FA Cup win over Southampton.
Palace suffered the worst possible start, going behind inside two minutes. John Stones' through ball caught out Damian Delaney, allowing Steven Naismith in behind. He got to the byline and squared for Lukaku who beat Julian Speroni to the ball to bundle home.
The home side almost responded immediately, Dwight Gayle's header was cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka, with the goal decision technology showing it was only inches from being over the line.
Soon after, Delaney failed to react when a corner found its way to him in the six yard box, then Gayle was shoved over by Muhamed Besic in the box but Roger East waved the penalty appeals away.
On 11 minutes, Marouane Chamakh controlled a Martin Kelly cross superbly but his shot was blocked by Stones away for a corner.
Chamakh then had to be stretchered off after a nasty clash of heads with Seamus Coleman on 24 minutes, the Palace man coming off far worse. Jordon Mutch replaced the striker to make his Palace debut and was soon in the action, floating a cross over for Yaya Sanogo, who headed wide.
Everton's Steven Naismith failed to take advantage of Scott Dann's slip, firing over from 20 yards wildly. At the other end, Jason Puncheon rasped a 25-yarder on target, pushed behind by Joel Robles.
But overall as an attacking threat, Palace were far from fluent. They did have a couple of chances in injury time when Mutch turned well in the box but hooked his volley well over and Puncheon cleared the bar with his half volley as the half died out.
The second half started at a very pedestrian pace, but Palace started to use the flanks more and whip in crosses and were soon dominating. Gayle chose to shoot from 20 yard, blazing over, when playing in the overlapping Martin Kelly would have been the better option on the hour.
Palace were playing the better football but moves were continuously breaking down in the final third, be it through poor crosses or a misplaced pass. Wilfried Zaha was introduced for Martin Kelly in an attacking move by Alan Pardew.
On 75 minutes, James McArthur stabbed an effort straight at Robles, it was the closest thing to a chance the home side had managed to create. In a rare attack at the other end, Lukaku was only inches away from connecting with Aiden McGeady's low centre.
The Scotsman thought he had scored with 12 minutes to go but his curling effort was superbly tipped away by Speroni at full stretch. Lukaku then fired into the side netting after Scott Dann conceded possession in midfield, leading to a counter attack.
Palace huffed and puffed but they never really looked like scoring as a pretty dire game ended in a first defeat in five for the Eagles.
PALACE: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly; Ledley, McArthur, Gayle, Puncheon; Chamakh, Sanogo.