Empty seats frustrate Pulis

05 January 2014 08:01

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis has urged clubs to find some way of filling stadiums for FA Cup matches after his side's 2-0 victory over West Brom at The Hawthorns attracted a crowd of just 12,700.

The status of the world's oldest domestic cup competition has been brought into question in recent years, and has been put even further under the spotlight this week after Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert suggested the majority of top-flight bosses would rather do without the distraction.

A half-empty stadium for Palace's entertaining third-round tie against Albion, despite the Black Country club offering cut-price ticket incentives, only seemed to suggest fans are also voting with their feet - although 2,000 Palace supporters made the trip.

Albion attracted a crowd of 26,397 for their 2-0 Barclays Premier League victory over the Eagles in early November.

But it is an issue for a large number of clubs up and down the country.

Pulis said: "There's got to be some way of filling stadiums up, especially for third round and fourth round ties at Premier League grounds.

"That has to be looked at because it is a wonderful competition.

"For all of what is going on, we've go to try as a nation to make sure we keep it a great competition by filling stadiums for games - that's certainly a help.

Pulis added: "It's difficult because it's just after new year, people have spent a lot of money, so you

understand that.

"But, as I said, there's got to be a way at this time of year that clubs can attract full houses, how they do

it you'd have to ask chief executives."

Asked for his views on the attendance, West Brom caretaker head coach Keith Downing added: "The club cut the prices so they tried to get people in.

"But this area is still a difficult area, it's still trying to survive economically, and it's tough for people to keep on producing money to watch football."

A combined total of 13 changes were made by both teams following New Year's Day but those present were still treated to an enjoyable encounter.

Dwight Gayle struck the game's crucial goal midway through the first half.

The striker capitalised on a glaring error from Goran Popov as his hacked clearance fell straight to Hiram Boateng, who found Gayle and he simply wrong-footed Ben Foster with a left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Substitute Marouane Chamakh converted a second goal with the last kick of the game deep into injury time, firing into an empty net.

Barry Bannan and Craig Dawson both hit the woodwork in an evenly-matched first half, before Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni turned in a man of the match performance after the break to deny dominant Albion.

However, a frustrated Downing was left to reflect on a Baggies display which he felt lacked any real spark.

Yet he refused to point the figure at the low attendance as a reason for their off-colour performance.

"At half-time we talked about a lack of intensity to our game, we were a bit disappointing without the ball, we didn't get after people," he said.

"We'd been positive in the last four games and I just felt there was too much caution here, waiting for things to happen.

"We grabbed the game to a certain extent in the second half but with just not enough creativity in the final third.

Asked whether that was down to the lack of atmosphere, Downing replied "No, I don't think that's a reason or excuse.

"We have to generate our own atmosphere, momentum and pressure.

"I don't think we did enough of that, particularly in the first half."

Source: PA