Allardyce: Pressure starting to lift from Palace players
Sam Allardyce felt he could see the pressure lifting from his Crystal Palace players as they ground out a crucial victory at West Brom.
Superb second-half goals from Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend in an otherwise dull clash secured a 2-0 win that lifted Palace out of the Premier League's bottom three.
It was Palace's second successive victory - the first time they have won two in a row since Allardyce took charge in December - and it seems the veteran manager's methods are starting to take hold.
Allardyce, who has managed five other clubs in the top flight and never been relegated from it, said: "All the players are working hard, and they were working hard without really knowing it because the pressure is coming off them.
"They are relieving themselves of all that pressure they have been putting themselves under for most of this season.
"When you get results that pressure lifts and you are running around with more freedom. You're not realising how much running you're doing because you're enjoying it that little bit more.
"And the lads deserve to enjoy what they have done here."
Palace striker Christian Benteke registered the only effort either side had on target in a drab first half when he had a header cleared off the line by Chris Brunt following a corner.
Zaha changed the tone of the game 10 minutes into the second half when he brilliantly controlled a Yohan Cabaye crossfield pass on his chest and lashed home a left-foot shot.
Jason Puncheon went close with a deflected effort and Townsend then forced a good save from Ben Foster before wrapping up victory with a fine solo goal six minutes from time. The former Tottenham and Newcastle winger broke from deep inside his own half and then beat two defenders in the box to strike with power.
It put the result beyond any doubt but eighth-placed West Brom, who had gone into the game in good form and chasing a fifth successive home win, rarely threatened.
Manager Tony Pulis felt his side were "tepid" and wanted to write the result off as "one of those games". With his side having already reached the psychologically-important 40-point mark, he hopes his players have not subconsciously switched off.
Pulis, who also denied his ongoing legal dispute with former employers Palace had any bearing on his frustration, said: "We weren't what we have been and played very slowly when we had the ball.
"We don't want the season to drift away. They have done fantastic to get to 40 points and it is important we try to get as many points as we possibly can.
"We have spoken about what we want to do, how we want to do it and what players we need to improve the group and we are working behind the scenes to get that done. It is small steps here and we move forward."