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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 10:25 GMT
Walsall 3-4 C Palace

Andy Johnson scored his second hat-trick in four days as Palace twice came from two goals behind to win at Walsall.

The Eagles were two goals down inside the first four minutes and after getting back into it, were 3-1 down early in the second half, but battled back to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.

Australian midfielder Steve Corica found himself unmarked six yards out in the second minute and with defenders hesitating, made no mistake with a clinical finish.

Palace, fresh from their 5-0 thrashing of Brighton at the weekend, looked stunned to be behind, but two minutes later they were two down.

More sloppy defending allowed a cross to come in from the right and Junior crashed home a right-footed shot from six yards.

Saddlers goalkeeper James Walker, making his 400th appearance for the club, had to be on his toes to keep out a Dougie Freedman volley after 12 minutes.

At the other end Kolinko had to be at his best to deny Junior a second of the night and a third for Walsall in the 23rd minute, reacting sharply to a point-blank effort from the Brazilian.

Five minutes later the Latvia international keeper topped that effort, somehow keeping out Junior's crashing volley from Corica's cross.

That save proved crucial, as Palace went straight up the other end and got a goal back.

Johnson, fresh from his hat-trick on Saturday, picked up the ball on the left, moved into the area and smashed a left-footed shot in off the crossbar.

Late comeback

That goal seemed to knock the wind out of Walsall's sails having created so many early chances, but Colin Lee's men comfortably held on to go in at the break ahead.

Five minutes into the second half, Kolinko again showed his class with a smart stop from Corica's 20-yard effort.

Walsall regained their two-goal advantage in the 52nd minute, Junior lashing home a 30-yard effort.

But the cushion lasted only five minutes before Palace were back in the game again.

Walker got down to produce a good save but Dougie Freedman was lurking to knock in the rebound for his seventh of the season.

Five minutes later Palace were level as Johnson grabbed his fifth goal in two games.

Julian Gray floated in a corner from the right by-line and Johnson rose to power a header into the top corner.

And Johnson completed Palace's fantastic comeback in the fourth minute of injury time, calmly stroking home Freedman's pass after a quick break to make sure of maximum points for Trevor Francis' side.


Walsall: Walker, Bazeley, Hay, Roper, Aranalde, Wrack, O'Connor, Simpson, Junior, Leitao, Corica. Subs: Ward, Herivelto, Zdrilic, Barras, Sonner.

Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Butterfield, Popovic, Powell, Granville, Johnson, Mullins, Derry, Gray, Freedman, Adebola. Subs: Michopoulos, Riihilahti, Black, Antwi, Rubins.

Referee: M Cowburn (Lancashire)


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