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November 24 2020 3.20am

Palace 0 - 1 Sheffield United

Sat Feb 23 2002 - League

The Eagles lost their third consecutive home game as Sheffield United won by one goal to nil in a dull affair.

The game and performance of the players was as dreadful as the weather, as an under-stregnth Palace side lost out to a second half Michael Brown goal.

The bad state of the pitch and strong wind did not help matters. Both sides were pretty even and could only create half chances with neither keeper forced to make any saves.

Trevor Francis's 4-3-3 formation was clearly not working as there was no width and Ade Akinbiyi and Clinton Morrison were not getting any service.

Sheffield United were no better and the first half ending was gratefully appreciated by the Selhurst faithful.

The second half continued in the same vein, until the Blades got their goal on the hour mark.

Palace target Michael Brown recieved a through ball from the halfway line, cut inside Dean Austin on the left and fired home past Matt Clarke from 15 yards.

Francis belatedly changed to the fans' favoured 4-4-2 and brought on Steve Thomson, Julian Gray and later Tommy Black. Gray looked dangerous down the left but it was too little too late.

Eagles' fans went home wondering why Francis persists in playing with 4-3-3 as it is clearly unsuccessful.

The injured Kit Symons and Tony Popovic, Dougie Fredman who allegedly had a training ground bust-up with Francis and an out-of-sorts Akinbiyi also had an immense impact on the defeat.

Post match comments:

Trevor Francis said: "I think both sides struggled to play to their potential. The game's only high spot was the skillful from Michael Brown.

"The performance was somewhat disjointed - we were without four key defenders, one midfielder and one striker, so it had a great effect on our performance.

"The loss of players is concerning. Dougie Freedman has been unwell since Wednesday and is still weak so we had to leave him out.

"But this does not take anything away from Sheffield United - they had a strong defence, their players closed down the ball and overall had a strong back four."

Neil Warnock said: "To beat a team who is up there battling for a play-off position, well, I'm delighted. Palace made us bite our nails, we haven't finished off a game like this this season.

"Let's face it, our top scorer has scored six goals and well, that says it all. I was very impressed by Phil Jagielka and the rest will have to work harder to reclaim their place.

"It's a very exiting time here at Sheffield although frustrating. I think we won because we got on the training ground on Thursday in the rain - I think we need more of it."

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Match Stats

Ground: Selhurst Park (Attendance: 18009)

Palace: Clarke, Smith (Gray 56), Austin, Berhalter, Fleming, Rodger (Thomson, 56), Kirovski (Black 72), Mullins, Hopkin, Akinbiyi, Morrison.

Subs not used: Kolinko, Frampton.

Bookings: Black, Fleming.

Sheffield United: Tracey, Uhlenbeek, Curle, Page, Ullathorne, Ford, Brown, Jagielka, Ndlovu (Santos 87), Furlong (D'Jaffo 82), Peschisolido (Suffo 71).

Subs not used: Montgomery, Cryan.

Bookings: D'Jaffo, Furlong, Uhlenbeek.

Goal: Brown 60.

Referee: S. Tomlin

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