Palace Takes Slender Lead Into Second Leg
A late goal from Crystal Palace’s very inform striker Andrew Johnson has secured his team a first leg edge in its Nationwide First Division play-off semi final against Sunderland.
A late goal from Crystal Palace-s very inform striker Andrew Johnson has secured his team a first leg edge in its Nationwide First Division play-off semi final against Sunderland. Palace, with Socceroo Tony Popovic very much in the thick of the action overnight, will take a 3-2 lead into the return leg on Monday night at the Stadium of Light and only needs a draw to progress through to the play-off final. After a scoreless first half, the match came to life soon after the break and set up an enthralling second half battle that see-sawed in terms of momentum. Five minutes into the second half Popovic (pictured above) fouled Carl Robinson in the penalty box and Marcus Stewart duly converted from the penalty spot to give the visitors the lead.
However, within a minute Palace was on level terms, when Neil Shipperley looped a header over Mart Poom. Buoyed by the goal, Palace kept up the pressure and went ahead eight minutes later when Danny Butterfield-s low drive into the penalty area took a deflection of Phil Babb and the ball managed to find it way past Poom. Sunderland though managed to fight its way back into the game and in the 83rd minute they managed to level it up again when Kevin Kyle pounced after Palace had failed to clear its area after a free kick. Again however Palace was able to hit back quickly and prolific goalscorer Johnson was able to drive his shot past Poom and give Palace a handy lead going into the second leg. Meanwhile several more Aussies will be involved in play-off action today and tomorrow in the Nationwide Second Division play-off semi finals. Joel Porter's Hartlepool taking on Luke Wilkshire's Bristol City, while Paul Reid Brighton & Hove Albion side will take on Swindon Town.