Crystal Palace's revival under Tony Pulis' no-frills management continues. Dwight Gayle's scruffy first-half goal and a last-kick strike by Marouane Chamakh installing them in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the expense of West Brom, who were booed off and have now won one of their past 11 matches.
Albion are still searching for a permanent successor to Steve Clarke, who was sacked on 15 December, and expect to make an appointment within the next week. Malky Mackay, who is available after his dismissal by Cardiff, has been linked with the job, but a source close to the board at the Hawthorns indicated that the Scot was not in the running.
The caretaker, Keith Downing, was entitled to consider himself, and his team, unfortunate here to run into Julián Speroni in outstanding form. Motivated by Pulis's pursuit of the Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, the Argentinian produced a man of the match performance, denying Matej Vydra and Saido Berahino with notable saves.
As is so often the case these days, both teams paid lip service to the traditions of the Cup, West Brom making eight changes and Palace five. The Hawthorns was less than half full, the fans harbouring Premier League priorities. This led Pulis to appeal for action to be taken to preserve the standing of the competition. He said: "I've been to a Cup final [with Stoke three years ago] and I really enjoyed it. It's difficult to balance it all up, but you can see our attitude to the Cup from the effort the lads put in. There was no-one shirking anything."
Of the lack of atmosphere the Palace manager said: "I think there's got to be some way of filling the stadiums, especially for the third and fourth rounds at Premier League grounds. That has to be looked at because it is a wonderful competition. "We've got to try as a nation to make sure that we keep it a great competition and filling the stadiums would certainly be a help. How we do it you'd have to ask the chief executives."
Admission prices had been reduced for the tie but, given that Palace's travelling support numbered 2,000, fewer than 11,000 Albion fans turned out.
For the first goal, midway through the first half, a poor clearance by Goran Popov went straight to Hiram Boateng, who set up Gayle. The striker's turn and mis‑hit shot sent Foster the wrong way, and left him stranded as the ball trickled in.
Gera should have equalised in added time but hit Danny Gabbidon with his shot at close range and instead Chamakh, on as substitute, doubled the margin with the last kick.