Not content merely with avoiding relegation, Crystal Palace are pushing for a top-half finish. Mile Jedinak's second-half penalty gave Tony Pulis's side a fifth straight win and confirmed that, for the first time, Palace will have a second successive season in the Premier League. West Ham are not mathematically certain of staying up but it seems unlikely that they will be leapfrogged by six of the eight teams below them. Still, boos at the final whistle made it clear that there is growing discontent with Sam Allardyce's side.
Football concerns were put in their place before kick-off with a poignant tribute to the West Ham striker Dylan Tombides, who died from testicular cancer on Friday at the age of 20. After the club announced it was retiring the No38 jersey the Australian used to wear, Tombides's father and his younger brother, Taylor, a youth-team player at West Ham, laid it in the centre circle amid prolonged applause around the ground. A short, powerful ceremony.
When the match started, West Ham went in search of the three points they needed to copper-fasten their place in the Premier League, and Julián Speroni was forced into a save from an Andy Carroll header in the third minute.
Palace responded by showing the solidity and slickness that Pulis has instilled. The manager's triumph has not only been to deliver results but to do so while changing the perception of him as an archaic tactician. His side has swagger as well as steel. "This is a different team to what I had at Stoke, with different strengths," said Pulis. "I think we're an exciting team."
Carroll had to clear off his own line after Yannick Bolasie's corner was met with a downward header by Kagisho Dikgacoi. Bolasie's trickery made him a constant menace and a minute later he produced a cross from which Scott Dann should have scored, but the defender headed over from close range.
It was not one one-way traffic, however. Speroni had to touch a 20-yard drive from Mohamed Diamé over the bar in the 28th minute. Carroll, meanwhile, continued to serve as a berserker in the box, spreading chaos every time the ball was crossed towards him. But the appeals for him to be awarded a penalty after he collided with two defenders in the 33rd minute were far-fetched. Two minutes later the striker combined nimbly with Kevin Nolan before teeing up Diamé for a shot that Speroni did well to bat away. The goalkeeper then had to paw out another Carroll header.
Carroll, almost inevitably, was presented with the first chance of the second half but he dragged his shot wide from 10 yards after good service by Stewart Downing. "Our finishing was miserable," said Allardyce.
Just before the hour Cameron Jerome showed how to make the most of an opportunity. He had little support when he latched on to a long ball but proved too shrewd for Pablo Armero, who tripped him inside the penalty area. Jedinak converted the spot-kick.
Allardyce's decision to replace Matt Jarvis with Carlton Cole in the 70th minute was greeted with more boos from the locals. The subsequent introduction of Joe Cole proved more popular but neither switch injected enough ingenuity into the hosts to infiltrate the diligent Palace guards.