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October 22 2020 8.00am

Rotherham United 2 - 3 Palace

Sat Aug 11 2001 - League

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Crystal Palace opened the new season with a fine comeback to beat Division One newcomers Rotherham United.

Rotherham started the game well and had a few chances to score. Chris Swailes saw his long shot go agonisingly over the bar, Guy Branston headed inches wide of the post and then Paul Warne and Richie Barker went close.

Down the other end, Palace got their first chance when Dougie Freedman chased a long ball and was denied by keeper Mike Pollitt, who raced out of his goal to block in the 22nd minute.

On 31 minutes, Hayden Mullins gave a short back pass to Alex Kolinko, who came to the ball late and luckily the ball was cleared away for a corner.

But an unmarked Guy Branston headed the corner ball straight at Kolinko, he fumbled it and fell back behind the line and the ref awarded the goal to the home side.

Two minutes later, Rotherham doubled the lead through Mark Robins. From another corner, Branston's header was cleared off the line but only as far as Robins, who buried home from five yards.

On 38, Branston conceded a penalty at the other end when he up-ended Dougie Freedman. The Scot took the spot kick himself and made no mistake, Palace pulled it back to 1-2.

After the interval, The Eagles started playing much better, which resulted in the equaliser on 57 minutes. It was Aki Riihilahti who forced the ball home from five yards out after Freedman had nodded down a Julian Gray cross.

It was again Gray who set up Palace's winner. The former Arsenal player caused the Rotherham defence trouble down the left, but it was Jamie Smith who applied the finishing touch with a left foot shot into an unguarded net and Palace held out for a remarkable 3-2 comeback.

Man of the match: Freedman (Was a handful for the Millers).

Post match comments:

Steve Bruce was relieved with a win in his first game in charge. He said: "We knew what to expect but we just could not cope for 25 minutes.

"I had a few words to say at half-time and we improved in the second half, but a lot more improvement is needed. However, we showed we can knuckle down if we have to and we finally got the victory."

Rotherham United (A) Photos From The Terrace Photos

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Match Stats

Ground: Millmoor (Attendance: 6994)

Rotherham United: Pollitt, Bryan, Swailes, Branston, Hurst, Sedgwick (Monkhouse 84), Watson (Daws 86), Talbot, Warne, Richard Barker, Robins.

Subs not used: Gray, Beech, Berry.

Goals: Branston 30, Robins 33.

Palace: Kolinko, Smith, Austin, Fan, Gray, Mullins, Riihilahti, Hopkin (Rodger 29), Freedman, Morrison, Kirovski (Berhalter 89).

Subs not used: Gregg, Rubins, Carlisle.

Goals: Freedman 39 pen, Riihilahti 57, Smith 77.

Referee: R Pearson (Peterlee)

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