Torquay 1 - 1 Crystal Palace (1-3 pens)

Last updated : 15 August 2003 By Nik Taylor
Palace edged past an impressive Torquay side on Tuesday night, but the Third Division team took the Eagles all the way.
And Palace once again had to complete a match without the full eleven, after Tony Popovic got his marching orders with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

The Devon side started the match well, and had several chances to take the lead. Ex-Eagle David Woozley was in particularly fired-up form against his old club, and will have been cursing his luck after a last-ditch Kit Symons tackle denied him the opener. Jason Fowler was also testing the Palace defence, and the home fans were disappointed to see him forced off by injury after 20 minutes.

Shortly after that, the match swung in Palace's favour. Neil Shipperley's clever flick-on set up Dougie Freedman, and the in-form striker fired a cracking volley into the roof of the Gulls' net from all of 25 yards. The fans in the red-and-blue end of Plainmoor waited for the home side to crumble, and Palace did indeed control the rest of the first half. However, the score remained 1-0 at half-time, and fifteen minutes after the break Torquay hit back. Subsitute David Graham latched onto a loose ball 18 yards from goal, and smashed a deflected shot past Cedric Berthelin in the Palace goal.

Worse was to come for the Eagles in the 74th minute. Popovic, who had already been booked by the ref after a number of strong tackles, got a straight red after clattering into Woozley. The sending-off inspired Torquay, and only some last-ditch defending and brilliant goalkeeping from Berthelin kept the scores level.

So, extra time it was then. Shipps wasted a chance to put Palace back in front just seconds into the first-half, nodding over from six-yards when it looked easier to bury it. Freedman also had further chances, but both sides gradually wound down as penalties approached.

It was in the shoot-out that Palace's class finally told. Torquay took the first penalty, at the end housing the Eagles fans. Alex Russell stepped up, and saw his kick brilliantly saved by Berthelin. The man is fast becoming a Selhurst cup legend, following his performance against Liverpool last season.
The next three all went in - from AJ, Steve Woods and then Shaun Derry. 2-1 to Palace. Then it was Berthelin's turn again. Craig Taylor hit a poor penalty for the home side, and the Palace stopper made a good save. Freedman then heaped on the pressure by firing home the third - 3-1 now. That left Torquay goalscorer Graham needing to find the net again to keep his side in it. However, he blasted his shot over, and Palace went through to the second round of the Carling Cup.