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Caretaker manager Steve Kember
"In the end, they came good"
 real 14k

Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
Palace push Pompey towards drop
The Palace celebrate Dougie Freedman's opener
The Palace celebrate Dougie Freedman's opener
Portsmouth 2-4 Crystal Palace

Two goals from Dougie Freedman helped Crystal Palace move out of the relegation zone - only to send opponents Portsmouth crashing into it for the first time this season.

Palace produced the perfect start for new manager Steve Kember in front of 19,013 fans at Fratton Park with a display of composed finishing.

But for Portsmouth manager Graham Rix, the defeat intensifies his spiralling relegation worries.

After two near-misses, Palace took the lead in the 17th minute when Mikael Forssell was unmarked when he converted a cross from the right by Freedman.

Palace went further in front in the 25th minute when outstanding midfield player Aki Riihilahti stooped to head in a centre from Clinton Morrison and again he was unmarked.

Portsmouth were thrown an unexpected lifeline in the 44th minute thanks to a dreadful error by Palace goalkeeper Alex Kolinko, who dropped a cross from Kevin Harper to allow Lee Mills to bundle in from close range.

But as Portsmouth celebrated their goal, Freedman raced clear down the left to get in a low cross-shot which deceived goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan.

A bandaged Dean Austin salutes the fans
Dean Austin produced an oustanding display
Palace were further in front in the 51st minute as Portsmouth showed no signs of improving after the break.

Morrison got down the left and Freedman timed his run perfectly to head in from six yards.

With the match won, Palace relaxed and Kolinko made up for his error with outstanding saves from substitute Michael Panopoulos and Carl Tiler.

With two minutes remaining Tiler came forward again to head in a corner from the left by Harper but it was too little and too late.

With one match remaining Palace are now equal on point with Portsmouth but with a better goal difference.

Portsmouth must now entertain Barnsley on Sunday knowing they must better Palace's result at Stockport to survive.

Portsmouth: Flahavan, Primus, Hiley, Tiler, Waterman, Harper, O'Neil, Sharpe, Vincent, Mills, Bradbury. Subs: Tardif, Nightingale, Crowe, Lovell, Panopoulos.

Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Mullins, Berhalter, Austin, Smith, Thomson, Carlisle, Riihilahti, Morrison, Freedman, Forssell. Subs: Gregg, Black, Evans, Hankin, Harrison.

Referee: P Richards (Preston)

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