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Palace 3-0 Preston

April 8 2007

Shefki Kuqi

Shefki Kuqi

Crystal Palace sent promotion-chasing Preston North End packing after a dominant first half display led to a 3-0 victory, writes Simon Pophale.

Preston have, in the last few years, held sway over us but today from the first whistle it was all one way traffic.

In the 2nd minute Clinton Morrison squared for Carl Fletcher, whose drive was saved by Andy Lonergan and a minute later, he was called into action again, this time catching a Shefki Kuqi header.

There was nothing he could do about Kuqi's next headed effort. After an enterprising run from Matt Lawrence down the right won a corner, Ben Watson floated the ball over and Kuqi rose highest to get his first goal since mid-January in the 15th minute.

His 2nd, four minutes later, showed why Peter Taylor shelled out £2.5 million of Simon Jordan's fortune on him. Tom Soares knocked the ball down to Clinton Morrison, whose pinpoint cross from the right was met by Kuqi with a perfect volley, twisting his body to leave Lonergan no chance.

Kuqi, who was running Preston ragged with his all-action style, was caught badly on 23 minutes by Seyto Soley which earnt the Gambian captain a yellow card.

We should have been three up as a Liam Chilvers back pass left Morrison in the clear with only the keeper to beat, but Lonergan was equal to this and from the resultant corner, tipped Mark Hudson's header over the bar.

Meanwhile, Gabor Kiraly was a virtual spectator for the first 45 minutes as Preston failed to mount a sustained threat. Snapshots from Brett Omerod and David Nugent, who was being marked out of the game, provided any resistance.

Paul Simpson must have sent a few tea-cups flying around the dressing room at half-time as Preston did manage to start the second half more positively than they did in the first.

Soley shot wide on 47 minutes and then Leon Cort uncharacteristically gave the ball away to Brett Omerod, but his pass to David Nugent saw the newly capped England striker have his chance snuffed out by Mark Hudson.

Omerod himself was set up by Nugent on 53 minutes, but he miscued and Preston were soon back defending. Lonergan denied Morrison, Cort and Soares as well as a Watson drive which looked destined for the top corner.

The match was over as a contest as Cort headed home another Watson corner on 67 minutes and while Preston looked brighter once Patrick Agyemang came on, they never looked like scoring.

The week ended badly for Nugent who was substituted with 15 minutes left and he threw his shin pads into the dugout in frustration as he left the field. It summed up Prestonís afternoon as we recorded our first victory over Preston in 5 years.

Palace: Kiraly, Lawrence, Borrowdale, Hudson, Cort, McAnuff (Ifill 70), Fletcher (Kennedy 74), Watson (Grabban 82), Soares, Morrison, Kuqi.

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