Palace favourites to clinch Wembley place

 

CRYSTAL Palace are favourite to clinch a place at Wembley in the English League Division One play off final.

Dave Bassett's side entertain Charlton on Wednesday with a 2-1 advantage after a stirring comeback today at The Valley.

Shaun Newton's first minute goal rocked Palace, but two goals in the space of seven minutes turned the game their way.

Charlton goalkeeper Andy Petterson stopped Dougie Freedman's effort in the 64th minute but the ball looped to full back Kenny Brown, who drove it in.

Andy Roberts 71st minute flag kick led to the second goal with Carl Veart having a simpler job to score with a stooping header at the far post.

Stoke, out of the top flight since 1985, drew 0-0 at Leicester in a drab and disappointing game.

Home goalkeeper Kevin Poole made two superb early saves from Simon Sturridge and Graham Potter.

Leicester, appearing in the play offs for the fourth time in five years, had the edge in terms of end of season form.

But Stoke had done the double over the East Midlanders and their fans were in buoyant mood at the end of the game.

Gary Martindale rocked Crewe in the second division play offs with a last minute equaliser for Notts County in the 2-2 draw at Gresty Road.

Crewe were two goals up in 17 minutes thanks to Colin Little and Mark Rivers, but then lost their way.

County pegged a goal back on 55 minutes through Steve Finnan, who cashed in on a lapse by home full back Lee Unsworth. Martindale had the last word heading home Tony Battersby's cross.

Blackpool are firmly in the driving seat after a 2-0 win against Bradford at Valley Parade.

Tony Ellis broke the deadlock after 71 minutes when he scored with a superbly angled left foot shot into the far corner.

Before Bradford could recover, Mark Bonner added a second goal after 78 minutes, heading in at the far post from Andy Watson's cross.

Dean Smith gave Hereford the lead at Edgar Street but Darlington fought back for a 2-1 victory in the third division play offs.

Smith neatly headed home a free kick from full back Murray Fishlock after Richard Wilkins had been fouled by Matt Appleby.

Sean Gregan equalised after 27 minutes and Robert Blake got the winner 10 minutes later.

A spectacular goal from former Republic of Ireland Under 21 international Mark Kinsella on the stroke of half time gave Colchester victory over Plymouth.

In Scotland, Christian Dailly headed Dundee United, a priceless Firhill equaliser yesterday to set up a Thursday night thriller at Tannadice in their promotion/relegation play off with Partick.

Thistle seemed to be on course for their first home win in almost six months thanks to a superb first half free kick from Andy Lyons.

But goalkeeper Nicky Walker, who had pulled off a string of top class saves, was finally beaten with four minutes left as Scotland Under 21 star Dailly headed home a Dave Bowman cross.