Coventry City 2 Crystal Palace 1

Last updated : 09 May 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Crystal Palace made it in to the promotion play-offs by the skin of their teeth.

Iain Dowie's men couldn't beat Coventry City led by Peter Reid for the first time but results elsewhere meant Palace will extend their season and have a chance of making it into the Premiership.

Coventry, rocked by the sacking of Eric Black in midweek, put on one of their best performances of the season and could have won by more.

They made their intentions known from the off and could well have been ahead after only two minutes.

Bjarni Gudjonsson put Andy Morrell through inside the Palace area and although the striker's first touch was poor, the ball was heading in when it was hacked clear.

Tony Popovic tried to put the ball behind to make sure but only succeeded in putting it against his own post.

Not that Coventry had to wait long to take the lead. Graham Barrett tried his luck from out wide forcing Nico Vaesen to tip over his bar. Gudjonsson put the resulting corner into the area and skipper Mo Konjic met it to thunder home a header.

The goal knocked Palace back on their heels and Coventry were in charge for the rest of the half. Vaesen made three more saves but could do nothing to stop the home side stretching the lead in the 27th minute.

Gary McSheffrey waited until the last moment before slipping the ball to Michael Doyle who had made a dash outside him, and the Irishman finished with a first-time left-foot shot.

Palace never really managed to get their front two into the game in the first half and it was wide men Wayne Routledge and Julian Gray who caught the eye.

At half time Palace were out of the play-offs, but Dowie made a double substitution before the hour mark and it paid off when Dougie Freedman stroked the ball home after good work from Andy Johnson down the right.

That gave Palace a lift and with Coventry tiring, the closing stages were largely one-way traffic.

Twice Gray blasted over when he should have done better, while Calum Davenport denied him with an amazing goal-line clearance.