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January 26 2021 2.42pm

Stockport 0-1 Palace 2001

May 6 2001

Dougie Freedman

Dougie Freedman

A late Dougie Freedman goal against Stockport and a 2-1 win by Birmingham over Huddersfield, secured First Division Football for Crystal Palace in dramatic circumstances.

His superbly-taken strike in the 87th minute secured the three points needed for survival after it looked like the Eagles were doomed only a week earlier.

Palace caretaker-manager Steve Kember fielded the same side which beat Portsmouth in midweek in search of a win to secure Division One status.

They started well and Freedman came close early on, but Stockport's Ally Gibb cleared the ball from the line.

With the scores elsewhere going against them Palace needed a win, one point was not enough.

Clinton Morrison and Mikael Forsell had chances to put The Eagles ahead, but they found keeper Lee Jones in their path or shot wide.

Just before the interval, Stockport could have gone one up through Shefqi Kuqi, but he squandered his effort.

After the break, there were chances for Stockport through Hurst and Palace with Aki Riihilathi, but the score remained 0-0.

Portsmouth went 3-0 up against Barnsley and Palace knew they needed a goal and poured forward. They had a scare when Stockport's Aaron Wilbraham hit the side netting from close range.

Then three minutes before the final whistle, the 3,000 Eagles supporters were in ecstasy when Freedman gave Palace a priceless goal.

He picked up a long ball from deep in the Palace half, jinked his way past two defenders and fired into the net from inside the box to send the Palace fans into raptures.

But they had an agonising wait at the final whistle for news of the Birmingham game against Huddersfield. Birmingham held on to their 2-1 victory at the McAlpine Stadium, which meant The Terriers and not Palace were condemned to the Second Division.

Post match comments

Hero Freedman said his winner against Stockport was the most important goal of his career.

He said: "I've never scored a more vital goal than that. It keeps us in the First Division. We were under a lot of pressure but we showed a lot of character. We wanted to stay up and we have stayed up. We did it for each other."

Clinton Morrison said: "Dougie's worked hard all season and I'm pleased for him that he's got the goal. It's great.

"I didn't think it was going to be our day - we were missing a lot of chances - but then Dougie popped up and put one away."

Caretaker boss Steve Kember added: "Dougie turned on a little bit of magic for us, which he said he would do at half-time.

"Most of it was extremely tense but I always knew if we just got one late chance, a guy like Dougie would grab it.

"I was in a no-lose situation. If I won two games everybody would be ecstatic and call me a hero. If we lost them both, it was what was expected."

Stockport: Jones, Gibb, Flynn, Clare, Woodthorpe, Smith (Roget 65), Fradin, Kuqi, Clark, Wilbraham, Hurst (Nicholson 54).

Subs not used: Bryngelsson, Briggs, Maxwell.

Palace: Kolinko, Austin, Mullins, Berhalter, Smith, Thomson (Black 77), Carlisle (Hopkin, 65), Riihilahti, Forssell, Morrison, Freedman.

Subs not used: Gregg, Hankin, Evans.

Referee: A R Leake (Darwen).

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