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October 22 2020 6.56am

Millwall 3 - 0 Palace

Wed Dec 26 2001 - League

There was no Christmas cheer for Eagles fans as pathetic Palace got a 3-0 Boxing Day pasting to arch rivals millwall at the Den.

The game was effectively over in the space of five minutes after half-time thanks to Steve Claridge (50 mins), and a brace from Richard Sadlier (52, and 55).

Right from the start, millwall meant business and clearly wanted to win far more than the gutless Palace side who are in a free-fall down the table.

In the first half, the Eagles defended desperately and held out from a flurry of millwall shots and mostly dodgy corners - ref David Elleray was having a poor game.

Julian Gray was Palace's only real outlet and they rallied back and had chances of their own. Clinton Morrison missed a sitter when he skied over from the edge of the six-yard box from a Trevor Benjamin knock down.

Any other day, it would have nestled in the bottom corner of the net. He had a cross turned away from a corner when Benjamin was inches away from getting on the end of it.

After the interval, Claridge continued his habit of scoring past his old club. He turned Kit Symons and hit a weak shot into the back of the net from a few yards out. millwall were on fire.

Two minutes later, Sadlier fired home a well-taken goal from the edge of the box from a Sean Dyche free-kick. Palace had fell apart and Sadlier got his second when he headed home unmarked from close range from a Neil Harris cross down the right.

Sadlier could have had a hat-trick and Alex Kolinko made a great save to deny a Harris header destined for the top corner.

Second half substitution of Craig Harrison, Steve Thomson and Scott Gooding, making his debut could stir anyy life into a dismal performance.

Man of the Match: Gray - Just edged ahead of Kolinko as the only player to emerge with any credit from a wooeful display

Chant of the Match: "You're not fit to wear the shirts!"

Post match comments:

Trevor Francis said: "The manner of this defeat was very disappointing. We allowed their first goal to affect us too much, and at times our passing was woeful.

"I don't think there was a lack of fight from my players and Millwall's change of formation didn't surprise me.

"But we defended poorly, and at times the effort applied by our players was misdirected.

"I was pleased we shoed a willingness to get back into the game but there were too many poor performances and when so many of your players have an off day it's very difficult."

Mark McGhee said: "I'm very satisfied with the results. These games are so important for the fans it's easy to get distracted by the fact it's a local derby.

"But with those three strikers out on the pitch, I always thought we should beat Palace. It was just a question of how it happened.

"The first half was about seeing how this formation would work, and we were quite hesitant at first.

"But we improved in the second half and were much more decisive.

"We're in the top six at the halfway stage but I still think we can improve and we must keep battling and see where that takes us."

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Match Stats

Ground: The Den (Attendance: 16630)

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Nethercott, Dyche, Ryan, Cahill, Livermore, Bircham, Harris (Reid 87), Claridge (Ifill 87), Sadlier.

Subs not used: Gueret, Ward, Bull.

Booked: Cahill.

Goals: Claridge 51, Sadlier 53, 56.

Palace: Kolinko, Smith (Gooding 76), Symons (Harrison 66), Berhalter, Edwards, Riihilahti, Hopkin, Gray, Kirovski (Thomson 66), Benjamin, Morrison.

Subs not used: Carasso, Kabba.

Booked: Benjamin, Thomson.

Referee: D R Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

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