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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Dowie hails Eagles defence
Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie
Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie credited his side's defensive display for their 1-0 win over West Ham in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.

"I think we deserved to win - it was a very tight game but we defended resolutely," said Dowie.

"People have been saying all season that we can't defend but we showed that we've got heart and soul.

"It's absolutely incredible. Our effort, commitment and desire to win was superb."

Dowie added: "I thought that our game-plan worked - West Ham are a top quality side and we've come up trumps.

"We showed that we're a footballing side. Now we've got the worry of dealing with some superpowers in the Premiership, but what a day for our fans.

Dowie admitted Palace would have to strengthen their squad in order to compete in the top flight but insisted the club would not overstretch itself financially.

The belief within this squad is fantastic
Crystal Palace assistant boss Kit Symons
"You've got to be sensible about it," he said.

"We've seen the boom and bust and we're not going to do that but clearly we need to invest.

"We're talking about teams like Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. I don't sleep in Division One so what I'll be like in the Premiership I don't know!"

Palace's assistant boss Kit Symons paid tribute to Dowie's achievement in guiding the Eagles from 19th place in Division One when taking over in December to the Premiership.

"When Iain took over, promotion was a million miles away but we kept believing," said Symons.

"The belief within this squad is fantastic and that was what got us here and is what will drive us on even further."

Goalscorer Neil Shipperley could not hide his delight.

"I've never scored a more important goal - what a moment," he said.

"People doubted us but it shows you how strong we are to come and do this.

"It's unbelievable - the fact that we came from fourth from bottom to here makes this so special."

Crystal Palace goalscorer Neil Shipperley
"Iain Dowie has worked wonders for us"

Crystal Palace boss Ian Dowie
"The players have done it and I'm proud to be their manager"

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