Football: Fry's delight cut short by Salako

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The Independent Online
Crystal Palace. . . .2

Southgate 19, Salako 45

Birmingham City . . .1

Saville 44

Attendance: 11,295

BARRY FRY managed the seemingly impossible by becoming the first Birmingham manager to witness a goal in almost 10 hours of football, but he knows the near-impossibility of a win in the First Division will take a little longer.

Andy Saville's freakish score at the end of the first half briefly threatened a Birmingham revival. But seconds later an authentic, brilliant strike by John Salako restored justice as Palace completed an emphatic double over the second city's distantly second club.

In truth, they should have comfortably repeated their 4-2 win at St Andrews, and that they did not was due to the profligacy of Chris Armstrong in particular, but the home manager Alan Smith was delighted to see his side win and hold on to third place.

'It was one of those games where we could have won by a lot more, but we have lost games like this 1-0,' he said. 'I am just glad we will be playing Southend twice with Barry Fry up in Birmingham. They won't lose a lot of games now.' It is as well, as they have lost rather a lot recently, and Fry knows he will earn the pounds 300,000 bonus on offer if he is to realise his belief that Birmingham can be promoted this season.

'I started off by picking the left-back and he wasn't even with me,' said Fry. 'I wouldn't have known if Danny Wallace hadn't told me. I'm going to fine the bastard two weeks' wages and kick him out of the club,' he joked.

The absent defender, Graham Potter, could hardly have made much difference as Palace's exploitation of the acres behind, between and through Birmingham's defence threatened a landslide.

Armstrong missed the target with three clear openings, had another saved, and saw one shot spring off the inside of the post and run dangerously across the goal-line before going out of play for a goal kick.

But who needs strikers with Gareth Southgate in the team? The midfielder bravely headed home for his ninth goal to give Palace the lead, and but for Saville's equaliser it would have been a procession.

The striker, who put Palace out of the Cup at Hartlepool last season, looped a deflected shot over the helpless Nigel Martyn to score Birmingham's first goal in 546 minutes and set Fry off on a victory jig down the touchline.

Immediately from the restart, Salako left two players in his wake and a third on his behind before crashing a shot across Miller and in at the far post.