Football: Austin's welcome strike for Palace

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The Independent Online
ADVERSITY IS bringing out the best in Crystal Palace. With debts of pounds 22m, star players sold off to ensure survival, administrators called in to run the club, over 40 non-playing staff sacked, and the players threatening strike action before tomorrow's home match with Sunderland if their wages are not paid in full, the beleaguered south London Nationwide First Division team followed their 1-0 defeat of promotion-chasing Bradford City with a win by the same score at Norwich City.

Dean Austin, the former Spurs defender, was Palace's matchwinner, ghosting in to the six-yard box to head in Craig Foster's free-kick. Palace's side included four 19-year-olds with two of them, the wing-back Andrew Frampton and striker Andrew Martin, making their debuts.

"We rearranged and reshuffled and it was an absolutely magnificent performance from the players I had left," Steve Coppell, the Palace manager, said. "They have all the excuses in the world and still went out and did their stuff."

Coppell did not select the club's two Serbians, Sasa Curcic and Gordan Petric. "They are training every day - it is a respite for them. But Gordan said the bombs are landing 200 yards from his house in Belgrade."

Palace arrived at Carrow Road at 2.15pm because they could not afford to stay in Norwich overnight. "We had to run off the bus, but if we had got here early the young pups would have worried about it too much," Coppell added.

"It will be a hell of an occasion playing Sunderland on Monday. The players have a meeting at the training ground this morning. We had meetings until late last night and we are all confident that we can have further talks on Tuesday."

Second-placed Ipswich Town were given a considerable assist by Swindon Town, who played with 10 men for 84 minutes after Craig Taylor was sent off for handling Matthew Holland's goalbound shot. "It's hard enough when you are playing one of the best sides in the division with 11 men but to go down to 10 men so early was a major blow. The lads are devastated," Jimmy Quinn, the Swindon manager, said.

Mark Venus converted the penalty, prelude to a 6-0 rout at the County Ground. James Scowcroft, Tony Mowbray and Jamie Clapham made it 4-0 before half-time. A second Venus penalty and Fabian Wilnis's late strike wrapped it up.

"It was a tremendous performance and I was delighted with the way we passed the ball," the Ipswich manager, George Burley, said. "In the second half we could have let things slip but we didn't. It was a fabulous display."

Paul Jewell, the manager of third-placed Bradford City, retrieved Lee Sharpe from his Italian adventure with Sampdoria and the former Manchester United and Leeds winger repaid him with the second goal in the Bantams' 3-0 win over Grimsby Town.

In the relegation battle at Ashton Gate, Bristol City beat Port Vale 2-0 when David Howells, the former Spurs midfielder making his debut on loan from Southampton, fired in a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area to double Bristol's advantage. For their coach, Benny Lennartsson, it was a third win in 23 games. "We are unbeaten in April," he smiled.

Finally, congratulations to Hibernian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Livingston, and Ross County, who all confirmed promotions. Hibs join the elite in the Scottish Premier, Inverness and Livingston move up from Second to First and Ross rise up from the Third to Second.