Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Crystal Palace 1 Leeds 0

Crystal Palace took a huge stride toward securing their Championship status with a win against play-off hopefuls Leeds at Selhurst Park.The home side made the perfect start when Neil Danns' shot deflected in off Andy O'Brien of Leeds after 80 seconds.From the only other chance of a drab first half, Palace's Jermaine Easter headed a Nathaniel Clyne cross wide.Palace survived heavy Leeds pressure in the second half and ended with 10 men after Danns was sent off.It was a bitter end to the game for the midfielder, but sweetened by the crucial three points he had played a major part in earning.With Scunthorpe losing 2-1 at home to Millwall and Doncaster drawing 2-2 at Barnsley, the result leaves Palace six points clear of the relegation zone with two games to play, and a vastly superior goal difference to 22nd-placed Sheffield United.
For Leeds, defeat is a major blow to their hopes of securing the final play-off spot and they now trail sixth-placed Nottingham Forest by three points.In addition the two teams directly above them - Millwall and their next opponents Burnley - are a point better off than Leeds.The game had barely settled when Danns unleashed a fierce drive from the edge of the area that flew through a melee of players and beat Leeds keeper Kasper Schmeichel.However, despite the lively start and what was at stake, the game descended into a tepid affair with neither side producing much in the final third, barring Easter's miscued header just before the break.

Leeds manager Simon Grayson made two changes at half-time - Neil Kilkenny and Sanchez Watt replacing Jake Livermore and Paul Connolly - to positive effect.The visitors created far more in the second-half with Watt and late substitute Davide Somma going close from long range.But Palace dug and, despite Danns' late dismissal for two yellow cards, they held on for a vital win.

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