Championship play-offs: Crystal Palace peaking again at just the right time says Ian Holloway

The Eagles play Brighton tomorrow night

Ian Holloway believes Crystal Palace have woken from their nightmare just in time for the play-offs.

The Eagles were in the hunt for automatic promotion until a miserable run of nine matches without a win left them sweating on their place in the top six.

Holloway admitted that run had been a "living, breathing nightmare" but it came to an end with Saturday's 3-2 win over Peterborough.

And with top scorer Glenn Murray ending an eight-game goal drought against Posh, Holloway feels his side are back on form in time for their two-legged semi-final against arch-rivals Brighton, starting at Selhurst Park tomorrow night.

"In life you have to grab things out of the fire and be brave and strong enough," said the Eagles boss.

"I think we have got stronger over the last couple of weeks because things had been rosy, then it went wrong and nearly everyone in the ground, bar me, thought we were going to throw it away.

"Glenn Murray got his goal, he was stuck on 29 for God knows how long but now he's got 30 and he's in an elite club [of players].

"The players have achieved something by getting in there. It would have been disastrous if we'd fallen out, particularly with Bolton and their old manager Dougie Freedman chasing us. But we are in there.

"To some of our fans that wasn't good enough and they've told me that, but I have to be a realist.

"When I first came here came no one said we had to go up, but we had a chance because of the way we were playing. Now we are in there fighting.

"This is about us having a chance to get the last promotion place to the Premier League. We almost lost it because the players wanted it so badly they got nervous. I don't sense that from them now."

The Eagles have a fierce rivalry with Brighton stretching back to the late 1970s and the days of Terry Venables and Alan Mullery.

If Holloway was not aware of that before he arrived in south London, it was made crystal clear following a 3-0 defeat at the Amex in March.

"What it means to the supporters is immense, they really don't like each other. I understand that now," he added.

"But what I can't do is get caught up in that. I have to focus on their strengths.

"There are four teams in it and no one can tell who is going to win. The best thing about all of this is we are still in with a chance."

PA

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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003