Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sam Allardyce’s poor run since taking over Crystal Palace was compounded by their loss at Stoke City on Saturday as Joe Allen’s slick finish gave the hosts a 1-0 Premier League win.
The defeat leaves Palace second bottom on goal difference and the south Londoners have won just once in eight games since the former England boss, who has never suffered relegation from the top flight, took over.
In driving rain on a wintery afternoon of lashing winds Stoke City came out wearing short sleeves and a look of grim determination ahead of what the players clearly suspected would be a gritty affair.
The goal when it came was one of rare beauty, however, as Marko Arnautovic lofted an angled pass into the box on 67 minutes that Ramadan Sobhi held up, awaiting Allen’s run and setting him up with perfect timing.
Allen’s instinctive snap shot whipped into the opposite bottom corner beyond the clutching grasp of Wayne Hennessey, his Welsh international teammate.
Sobhi was playing his first game since losing the Africa Cup of Nations final 2-1 with Egypt to Cameroon last Sunday in the sweltering heat of Gabon.
Hennessey in fairness had seen little menacing action until Allen’s winning strike and Stoke boss Mark Hughes was pulling faces on the freezing sidelines.
Allardyce went for broke and brought on French pair Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye in a desperate bid to draw level in a game they had started to believe would yield a point.
Six frantic minutes of added time failed to produce a solution for Allardyce’s charges and it would be scant recompense for Palace that bottom side Sunderland were thumped 4-0 by Southampton.