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AJ targets number one gun

April 6 2004

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has his sights firmly fixed on the top of the Division One scoring charts as he prepares to face his two rival hitmen this Easter weekend, by Joseph O'Shea.

The 22-year-old striker's 21 league goals see him locked in an intriguing race with Cardiff's Robert Earnshaw on 21, behind West Hamís Marlon Harewood at the top of the pile on 22.

Palace's fleet-footed number 8 comes face to face with both rivals in the space of three days, with a trip to Cardiff on Saturday and the visit of West Ham on Monday, and he is eager to get his nose in front.

He told the Guardian: "It will be a great achievement if I can finish as the Division's top scorer and I do keep an eye on who else has scored. I'm happy with the goals I have got, but I'm not going to settle for 21 in the league, I want to finish on top."

Without a goal in four games, Johnsonís goals have dried up as the season reaches its climax, but he is hoping to go on another run, like his nine in five games in January and February.

He said: "Iíd rather score one goal every two games and not go through these patches, but thatís the way it goes. We have got some massive games coming up and I want to get on another run as soon as possible."

Curiously there is no award or prize in the Football League for winning the golden boot, but with all three clubs vying for promotion, the hitmenís scoring fortunes could make or break the respective promotion bids.

All three strikers have been off-target lately with Earnshaw missing a penalty and Harewood having a tantrum when substituted after 28 minutes on Saturday, and Johnson is desperate to fire Palace back into play-off contention.

He said: "Individual prizes are the last thing on my mind. If we win and I score then itís a bonus, but the teamís result is all that matters. Since the gafferís come in we have been in championships form, and we think we can still make the play offs."

Johnson has been a revelation since Trevor Francis took him and £3.5million from Birmingham in exchange for Clinton Morrison in July 2002, scoring 39 goals in 69 appearances.

His 25 goals in all competitions have already eclipsed Morrisonís best tally of 24, and he needs six more in the last eight games to equal Ian Wrightís post-war record of 27 league goals set in the 1989 promotion season, when Palace went up via the play-offs.

No wonder Palace are on the verge of offering Johnson a new double-your-money long term contract, even though his current deal still has two years to run.

He said: "I havenít had any put to me by the club yet, but we will leave it until the summer. I am more than happy to sign. I am settled and happy here, so hopefully we can sit down and sort something out."

Live Croydon Guardian text commentary

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