Eagles plummet at the Valley
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
A late Jonathan Fortune goal consigned Crystal Palace back to the Championship.
A late Jonathan Fortune goal consigned Crystal Palace back to the Championship as a pulsating local derby ended 2-2 at The Valley.
The defender headed home a free kick from the right wing with just eight minutes to go after substitute Dougie Freedman had appeared to give the visitors hope of avoiding the drop.
It had all looked so good for the visitors going into the closing stages after two goals in the space of 13 minutes had helped them cancel out Bryan Hughes' first-half opener for the hosts.
Freedman was set to be an unlikely hero after he equalised almost instantly after coming on and then won the penalty that Andy Johnson converted for his 11th successful spot kick of the campaign.
In the end, that late Danny Higginbotham equaliser for Southampton at Selhurst Park the previous week cost the Eagles their top-flight status as a point on the final day was not enough to keep them afloat.
Despite a dreadful away record that has seen them claim just four points from their last 12 matches on the road, Palace started the game brightly with the impressive Wayne Routledge leading the way down the left flank.
Only a combination of Luke Young and Dean Kiely stopped Tom Soares getting in a shot as Palace pressed for the opening goal, while Routledge lifted the ball over the bar from a tight angle when a cross into the six-yard box appeared the better option.
The young winger, surely destined to be back in The Premiership next season, tested the recalled Kiely in the home goal with a 25-yard drive that the custodian tipped past his left post.
However, the positive hopes of the visiting fans evaporated on the half hour mark as Charlton broke the deadlock with their first real attack of note.
Radostin Kishishev's weighted through ball found Hughes in space behind the Palace rearguard and the midfielder managed to shin the ball beyond the onrushing Gabor Kiraly to put The Addicks 1-0 up.
The midfielder's goal lifted his team out of their lethargic start, Jonatan Johansson nearly doubling their lead with a neat deflection from a low Danny Murphy free kick that just went past the right post.
And it was the lively Hughes coming in from the left flank that nearly set up a chance for Shaun Bartlett as Palace were forced onto the back foot just before half-time.
But, being the optimist that he is, Ian Dowie would still have had hopes his team could turn it around after the break and the introduction of Freedman ten minutes after the re-start to help the isolated Andy Johnson paid immediate dividends.
The Scottish striker coolly lobbed over the head of a stranded Kiely after Talal El Karkouri had failed to deal with a long ball over the top as his careless header allowed the veteran to breath new life into Palace's survival hopes.
Freedman, no more than a bit part player for most of the season, proved the catalyst for the Eagles second as his low cross from the left struck Jonathan Fortune high on the arm as he slid in to block the ball.
Referee Mark Clattenburg quickly pointed to the spot and Johnson made no mistake as he held his nerve to send Kiely the wrong way.
With results going in their favour, Palace suddenly found themselves within touching distance of staying up and looking the more likely side to score next.
But there was still to be a late twist in the tale to come as a needless free-kick given away by Mikele Leigertwood led to Fortune's powerful header that sent the Eagles back down to the Championship after just one year in the top-flight.
|Charlton Athletic||Team Name||Crystal Palace|
|5||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||7|
|3||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||3|
|15||Total Fouls Conceded||14|