Palace near end of a bumpy ride to Wembley

 

Crystal Palace will have covered some distance if they protect their advantage in the Carling Cup semi-final tonight; from administration to Wembley within two years. Between those two markers they avoided relegation from the Championship on the final day of the season and were saved from extinction by the CPFC 2010 consortium.

Given they faced Manchester United in the previous round, Palace's progress in the Carling Cup has been one of the surprises of the season. Dougie Freedman, the manager, believes his players have thrived on an atmosphere where they were simply happy the club had not slipped from administration to liquidation. "Nothing can happen to these guys now," said Freedman, whose team hold a 1-0 lead over Cardiff from the first leg. "They've been in a situation where they haven't been paid, didn't know if the club was going to exist, last-day relegations. They are a group of players hungry for success after being knocked down for two seasons in terms of on and off-the-field experiences."

Paul Hart helped Palace stay up in 2010, then the group of businessmen led by Steve Parish, the co-chairman, rescued them from the threat of liquidation. It allowed young players such as Wilfried Zaha and Nathaniel Clyne to flourish. Both are expected to play against Cardiff amid interest from top-flight clubs. "If a big club comes along for a young lad, we have no regrets to see them go because they deserve it," said the midfielder Darren Ambrose.

The new era has seen Freedman emerge as a manager of promise. The Scot, who has been in charge for a year, believes the pressure is on Cardiff after an FA Cup final defeat and two play-off failures in the past four seasons. "I think the fans' expectations could possibly get over to the players before the game," said Freedman. "The heartache they've had over the last four or five years is difficult to take.

"I've watched the play-off games and they have always been a nearly team, nearly getting there, so I think the expectation levels there are a lot higher there than we have. There is a different atmosphere at Selhurst Park. We can't believe we're here, it's one of sheer enjoyment and being proud of the team." Freedman's comments – he previously suggested Cardiff would be "scared stiff" of failure – appear to have angered the Cardiff camp. Their striker Kenny Miller said: "The manager has mentioned Dougie's comments. Mind games always come into things when you go into management but it means nothing to us. I'm not scared stiff, I'll be anything but scared. It's a massive opportunity for the players and the club to get to a cup final at Wembley."

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test