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October 29 2020 2.46am

Dowie: We're in play-offs on merit

May 10 2004

Iain Dowie

Iain Dowie

Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie hailed his players after sneaking into the play-offs, despite losing 2-1 at Coventry.

Palace pushed Wigan out of the top six after West Ham scored a last minute equaliser against the Latics.

Palace now face third-placed Sunderland at Selhurst Park on Friday night (8pm), before the second leg at the Stadium of Light on Monday (8pm).

"It is a monumental achievement," said Dowie. "We are there because we have won the points over a series of games, not just because of Sunday's results.

"We're there on merit and I've told the players that. We were poor in the first half but very good in the second. All the credit should go to our players."

Mo Konjic gave Coventry the perfect start by heading his team into the lead after just four minutes.

Mike Doyle made it 2-0 from a Coventry counter-attack with a great finish on 27 minutes.

The Eagles needed to improve in the second half and substitute Dougie Freedman pulled a goal back on 64 minutes from Andy Johnson's cross.

The Londoners pressed for an equaliser to confirm their place in the play-offs as Julian Gray twice went close.

But they couldn’t get the vital equaliser and despair turned to joy as West Ham did them a favour by snatching the late leveller at Wigan.

Dowie added: "We came here to do our job but although we didn't, we deserve to be in the play-offs.

"The players are the best bunch of professionals I have worked with and they deserve this.

"We now face Sunderland and we know that will be tough. They finished third in the table and are therefore the third best team in the league."

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