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November 24 2020 3.12am

Palace 0 - 2 Watford

Sat Mar 9 2002 - League

Crystal Palace struggled to convert their numerous chances, as they went down 2-0 at home to Watford.

The Eagles dominated from the start and Watford would have counted themselves lucky for it to be 0-0 going into the break.

They had several corners and Clinton Morrison and Dougie Freedman had chances to score, but they were all wasted.

But with a rare attack, Watford scored in first-half stoppage time when Allan Nielsen converted a Stephen Glass cross.

Then the game was effectively over two minutes after half-time, when Marcus Gayle made it 2-0.

Glass's low cross from the left bobbled on the Selhurst turf where Matt Clarke misjudged the bounce and Gayle nipped in front of Jamie Smith at the near post to stab home from a few yards.

The Palace heads dropped and not even the introduction of Ade Akinbiyi could get them to score.

Palace were all at sea and Watford took over and Tommy Smith had two chances to extend the visitors' lead.

If Palace had turned their first half superiority into the two or three goals they deserved, Watford would have been on the wrong end of a thrashing. But two defensive howlers and poor finishing meant the Palace were well and truly stung by the Hornets.

Man of the Match: Austin

Chant of the Match: "What a load of rubbish!!" at the full-time whistle

Post match comments:

Trevor Francis said: "Iím bewildered by our inability to put the ball in the back of the net.

"We played some very good football in a swirling wind, but failed to score and when you have players of the calibre of Clinton Morrison and Dougie Freedman you expect one or two goals from so many chances.

"But I donít think itís a question of confidence Ė their goalkeeper was the best player on the park and the pitch didn't help."

Francis added: "We could have done with Curtis Fleming, Tony Popovic and Kit Symons in the team.

"Not only because of their experience but because of the influence they have on the younger players.

"In fact you can see that Dean Austin, our most experienced player, was our most impressive player in defence.

"Obviously the result is very disappointing and we now have a mountain to climb to reach the play-offs. But we can still do it, we have just got to be strong in adversity."

Gianluca Vialli said: "Recently we have been playing better and this makes a nice change. We thoroughly deserved to win the game."

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Match Stats

Ground: Selhurst Park (Attendance: 16817)

Palace: Clarke, Smith, Murphy, Austin, Mullins, Black (Akinbiyi 53), Granville (Thomson, 59) , Riihilahti, Gray (Kirovski 83), Freedman, Morrison.

Subs not used: Kolinko, Frampton.

Watford: Chamberlain, Robinson, Brown, Galli, Cox, Glass (Fisken 65), Nielsen (Doyley 89), Hyde, Mahon, Smith, Gayle (Noel-Williams 88).

Subs not used: Baardsen, Cook.

Goals: Nielsen 45, Gayle 47.

Booking: Galli.

Referee: H Webb (Rotherham)

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