Back in the Day: May 12th - Crystal Palace 3-3 Manchester United
Saturday 12th May 1984
Crystal Palace 0-2 Blackburn Rovers
League Division Two – Att: 5,076
Manager: Alan Mullery
Alan Mullery's final game in charge of Palace - thank f*** for that.
Saturday 12th May 1990
Crystal Palace 3-3 Manchester United (AET)
FA Cup Final – Att: 80,000
Manager: Steve Coppell
This was the first ever FA Cup Final since Wembley had been converted to an all-seater stadium – the irony was it was impossible to sit down.
It took just 19 minutes for the scoring to begin. Andy Gray won a free kick on the right, and Phil Barber’s free kick was headed home by Gary O’Reilly. Just like Liverpool in the Semi-Final, United could not handle the set piece threat of Steve Coppell’s men.
The lead would last only 16 minutes, however. Bryan Robson’s back post header somehow squeezed past Nigel Martyn in the Palace goal, with the aid of a deflection.
Just after the hour, United took the lead and yet again a large slice of luck was involved. A Palace clearance was blocked and flew right across the face of the goal to Mark Hughes, who made no mistake from seven yards out.
In a fit of desperation, Steve Coppell threw on Ian Wright in place of Phil Barber. The Palace striker had broken his leg just weeks before but ruled himself fit enough to play. It turned out to be one of the most inspired FA Cup Final substitutions of all time.
Shortly before Wright had a chance to have his say, Alan Pardew tracked back to deny Robson with great upper body strength. From the resulting goal kick, the ball bounced around in the middle of the park before falling for Mark Bright. His pass released Wright (72) down the left. He skipped away from one challenge and advanced into the penalty area. His chop back put Garry Pallister on his arse, and suddenly he had only Jim Leighton to beat. His finish was perfect and, out of nowhere, Palace were back in the match.
Extra-time was required, and just two minutes into the first extra period, Palace took the lead. Pardew released John Salako down the left with a long pass and the winger’s skill gave him the half yard he needed to cross the ball. His right footed centre was magical, and Wright (92) arrived late at the back post to score.
Into the second period the game went and with just seven minutes remaining, Palace hearts were broken. Danny Wallace fed Mark Hughes on the edge of the box, but the strike looked to be sufficiently covered by defenders. Martyn decided that they needed some help and came rushing off his line and Hughes needed no second invitation. He slid the ball under the moustached stopper.
This was before penalty shootouts were introduced to settle FA Cup Finals, so it was back to Wembley 5 days later for a replay.
Sunday 12th May 1996
Charlton Athletic 1-2 Crystal Palace
League Division One Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg – Att: 14,618
Manager: Dave Bassett
Crystal Palace travelled to The Valley, for what was the first ever London Derby in the Play-Offs era, and could not have got off to a worse start. With just one minute on the clock, Leif Andersen attacked a John Robinson cross as if he was in front of the opposition’s goal and powered a diving header towards his own goal. Nigel Martyn did brilliantly to prevent the own goal, but Shaun Newton was on hand to tap home and give the hosts the lead.
The Clowns would hold the lead until halfway through the second half when Kenny Brown (68) come to life. The full-back, on loan from West Ham, had already popped up with big goals since his move to SE25 and he was on hand to smash home a volley with his weaker right foot after Dougie Freedman had seen his shot saved.
Seven minutes later, Dave Bassett’s men turned the game on its head. Earlier in the season, George Ndah had scored with an overhead kick away at Millwall – with a large helping hand from the Lions’ keeper. Ndah tried his acrobatics once again but this time, despite a far better connection than his effort at The Den, his effort was flying wide. Fortunately, it turned into the perfect cross for Carl Veart, who ducked to head home.
The Eagles held on for the win and two away goals meant that one goal at Selhurst Park would give Charlton a mountain to climb.
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