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November 26 2020 10.27am

Palace 1 - 0 Barnsley

Sat Sep 22 2001 - League

A very late goal by Aki Riihilahti made sure the points stayed in South London as Palace beat Barnsley in a dreadful game.

He rose like a salmon to head home a cross from substitute Tommy Black in the last minute to send the Palace fans in raptures when it looked like the match was heading for a bore draw.

The Eagles started with loan signing from Middlesbrough Steve Vickers, who had an impressive debut, and kept their second consecutive clean sheet after Tuesday's 5-0 win over Grimsby.

Barnsley have the worst away record in the division and frustrated Palace with 10 men behind the ball, playing for the point.

There were only a few chances for either side, but the first came on 37 from Riihilahti, whose drive deflected off Morrison's back and looped over the keeper onto the crossbar.

A minute before the break, Andy Marriot in goal saved a low Jovan Kirovski free-kick, but the best chance of the half came to Dougie Freedman seconds afterwards.

A long ball from Tony Popovic found Freedman on the edge of the box after Chris Barker had slipped leaving the Scot through on goal, but he couldn't keep the shot down and it went straight into row z.

The funniest thing was when a ball boy caused a bit of controversy. He picked up a ball and put it on the Barnsley corner, when it hadn't crossed the line.

The ref awarded a drop ball after consulting his linesman and Palace cleared it away. He got a stern telling off from a steward and the Holmesdale chanted: "Ball boy, give us a wave" as he was about to cry.

In the second half, Clinton Morrison, Kirovski and Freedman, clipping the bar with a header, had chances.

Black came on in the 57th minute and sparked Palace into life, running at the Barnsley defence. And it was his cross to Riihilahti, which broke the deadlock to give Palace the three points.

Man of the match: Riihilahti (Battling performance, topped off by the goal).

Chant of the match: "Same old Dyer, always offside" after yet another lino flag.

Post match comments:

Winning manager Steve Bruce paid tribute to substitute Black. He said: "It's fair to say I was unhappy with Tommy when I first came through the door here.

"I think he definitely let himself go over the summer, and he was overweight. But he got his reward for getting fit and winning his place back in the squad.

"He's worked hard since the start of the season and he provided us with that spark we were lacking when he came on."

Bruce also praised Vickers. He said: "Steve had an outstanding debut for us and gave us the experience we have been lacking. It's now my job to persuade him to move here permanently.

"A fee has been agreed - but Steve has spent all his life in the north where his family is settled. It's difficult to move in those circumstances, but I'm prepared to compromise in a bid to get him here on a regular basis."

"I'm delighted with the win and happy to have two clean sheets in two games under my belt."

Goalscorer Riihilahti said: "We are defending much better as a team now. It's nice not to have to come back from two or three goals down."

A disappointed Barnsey boss Nigel Spackman said: "That is the story of our season so far. We played well, but we didn't score and we are always going to have problems if we concede goals like that.

"At the moment we are playing decent football but just not getting the results. The lads are devastated we let in a late goal after looking comfortable for most of the match.

"We've got players we need to move on here because they have stagnated but it's difficult when you have four or five long-term injuries."

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Match Stats

Ground: Selhurst Park (Attendance: 15433)

Palace: Clarke, Popovic, Vickers, Mullins, Smith, Rodger (Black 68), Riihilahti, Gray, Kirovski (Thomson 80), Freedman (Rubins 89), Morrison.

Subs not used: Kolinko, Austin.

Booking: Popovic.

Goal: Riihilahti 90.

Barnsley: Marriott, Parkin, Morgan, Barker, Regan, Ward, Donovan, Neil (Tinkler 72), Barnard, Gorre (Jones 71), Dyer (Sheron 78).

Subs not used: O'Callaghan, Ghent.

Referee: B Knight (Orpington) (P Prosser 57)

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