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."

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there