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June 2 2023 8.09pm

Stockport County 0 - 1 Palace

Sun Jan 13 2002 - League

Dougie Freedman scored on his return to the first team, with a goal against bottom placed Stockport.

Freedman's strike came on 67 minutes, after good work by Jovan Kirovski on the right wing.

Palace should have gone in front early on in the first half as Trevor Benjamin and Clinton Morrison caused Stockport problems, but found keeper Andy Dibble in fine form.

Benjamin hit the post with a rasping left foot shot, Dibble saved a Morrison effort and Freedman and Morrison had more chances to break the deadlock.

Stockport were restricted to two weak efforts from Kevin Ellison which were easy for Alex Kolinko.

In the 58th minute, Stockport went close when Damian Delaney's free-kick was parried out by Kolinko only as far as Jon Daly who saw his shot saved.

Substitute Kirovski then crossed for Freedman to score with a first-time effort and shortly afterwards was substituted for tactical reasons. He left the field clearly angry at the decison.

The Hatters could have got a point from their efforts when Luke Beckett's shot hit the post and the ball was eventually scrambled clear from the goal line.

The win puts Palace eighth in the Division One table.

Man of the Match: Freedman - Often anonymous, then pops up with vital goals.

Post match comments:

Trevor Francis was delighted with his third Palace win at rock-bottom Stockport and praised goal hero Freedman.

Francis said: "He hit the ball so cleanly. It justified my team selections in playing him.

"He's been hampered by a hamstring injury for three and a half weeks, but you cannot dismiss a goalscorer with his record.

"He is a clever player and though he is not match fit yet, he showed he can still finish in style."

The win keeps the Eagles in the play-off hunt.

Francis added: "This was a pleasing victory as it was a hard game as they were battling for their lives but once again our keeper was in excellent form and denied them on a couple of occasions.

"We've got 18 games left - 10 at home - and any team that can put a consistent run together can push for the play-offs.

"Both Curtis Fleming and Danny Granville did well for us tonight in both wing back and full back roles, whichever they were called upon to fill during the match and both showed how they can help the team whether in defence or going forward.

"They will prove valuable additions to our squad over the coming months. We had Craig Harrison, David Hopkin and Steven Thompson missing from selection but this is a huge improvement on recent weeks which has seen the injury list mean teams have picked themselves.

"Hopefully David and Steven should be available for the match against Gillingham on Wednesday and this will mean for the first time since I have been manager I will have a fully fit squad."

Carlton Palmer said: "The lads are gutted because nothing seems to be going right for them at the moment.

"I want a good young squad and I'm trying to bring in four or five more players - but we won't pay inflated prices."

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Match Stats

Ground: Edgeley Park (Attendance: 5541)

Stockport County: Dibble, Clare, Palmer, Challinor, Gibb, Delaney, Lescott, Briggs, Woodthorpe, Ellison (Taylor 69), Daly (Beckett 70).

Subs not used: Turner, Hancock, Welsh.

Palace: Kolinko, Fleming, Popovic, Symons, Granville, Riihilahti, Mullins, Rodger (Kirovski, 64 (Smith 87)), Morrison, Freedman (Gray 79), Benjamin.

Subs not used: Clarke, Berhalter.

Booking: Granville.

Goal: Freedman 67.

Referee: P R Richards (Preston)

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