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November 26 2020 9.35am

Palace 3 - 1 Gillingham

Wed Jan 16 2002 - League

Crystal Palace kept their promotion hopes alive with a fine win over Gillingham this evening.

Clinton Morrison grabbed two goals, while Dougie Freedman added a delightful third right at the end. Iffy Onoura was the goalscorer for the Gills.

It was the Eagles' third win in a row and Freedman played a key role in Morrison's brace and scored an amazing chipped goal to seal the victory.

Palace stormed into an early lead in the third minute when Scottish international Freedman, playing a slightly deeper role, set Julian Gray through in space and he squared it for Morrison to slot home.

The home side then had chance after chance, but could not find the back of the net. Trevor Benjamin shot wide when fed by Freedman and Morrison had two shots go inches past the post.

But Gillingham saw this as a warning and got back into the game. Marlon King split the Palace defence open down the right and his shot looked a certain goal, only Alex Kolinko managed to get a fist to the ball and it cannoned off the crossbar.

The Eagles then paid for their missed chances as Onuora rose unmarked to head in off the post from a Paul Shaw cross on the right in the 29th minute.

In the 63rd minute, Hayden Mullins had a long range effort crash against the crossbar and it seemed Palace were destined not to score again. A minute later, Morrison saved the day to put Palace back into the lead in one of the funniest ever goals.

Freedman found Morrison alone in the penalty area and the Irish international went to round keeper Vince Bartram, but lost his footing in the muddy Selhurst pitch. He miss-hit his strike and fell over as the ball dribbled over the line and looked pretty embarrased when it crossed the line.

The game was put out of reach for Gillingham as the best goal was saved til last in the 88th minute. Curtis Fleming found Freedman on the right hand side and the Scottish striker managed to lobb Bartram from a tight angle and the ball dropped just under the crossbar to round off a fine win.

Man of the Match: Clinton Morrison.

Chant of the Match: Did you come by caravan? Can you hear the pikies sing? etc

Post match comments:

Trevor Francis was delighted with the 3-1 win over Gillingham at Selhurst Park last night.

It was the Eagles' third win in a row and they are firmly back in the play-off race, moving up to eighth in the league.

Francis said: "I played with a very attacking formation with three up front and Julian Gray just behind them and I would have thought it surprised the opposition a bit.

"The key was obviously Julian Gray who I wanted to make good movement and express himself when we had the ball.

"He definitely did do that, he was instrumental in the first goal and some of the football we played was exhilarating at times - certainly the best since Iíve been here. We carved them apart in the early stages but were unable to extend our lead.

"I was disappointed with their goal as we didn't have it covered defensively. There were one or two warnings beforehand. It could have been avoided, the finish was good but we were too slack on the throw in.

"From the goal the game was end-to-end, which I didn't like, so at half-time I had to make some tactical changes to become 4-4-2.

"We have become better defensively, we've kept a clean sheet at Stockport and only one in this game."

Francis praised Clinton Morrison who scored a brace and Dougie Freedman who added a third with a fine lob.

He added: "Iím very pleased for Clinton. Heís had enough bad luck recently with disallowed goals at Newcastle and Stockport. I thought both he and Dougie Freedman were a real threat throughout the game."

Andy Hessenthaler said: "It was a disappointing night, especially the second half. But we weathered the storm and got back into it.

"We had a good first half and we didn't want the whistle to blow. We came out in the second half and I thought we could do something, but we didn't pass the ball well at all.

"The goals we gave away were our own fault. It was sloppy play. We've picked up a few injuries, but we'll have to carry on and put it behind us and be positive for our next game."

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Match Stats

Ground: Selhurst Park (Attendance: 17646)

Palace: Kolinko, Mullins, Popovic, Symons, Fleming, Riihilahti, Gray (Rodger 85), Granville, Freedman, Benjamin (Smith 45), Morrison.

Subs not used: Hopkin, Kirovski, Clarke.

Bookings: Mullins, Smith.

Goals: Morrison 3, 65, Freedman 87.

Gillingham: Bartram, Hope, Ashby, Smith, Nosworthy, Shaw, Browning (Gooden 74), Osborn, King, Onuora (Ipoua 51), Perpetuini (Patterson, 80).

Subs not used: Butters, Saunders.

Goal: Onuora 29.

Referee: F G Stretton (Nottingham)

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