Crystal Palace Burnley 0: Warnock takes 'Big Mo' to play-offs
In American politics, they call it "The Big Mo"; in the Championship, they prefer the understatement of the full word: momentum. The perception is that momentum has more of a bearing than mere final league position when it comes to achieving success in the play-offs.
If this is true – and history suggests that it is – then Crystal Palace, who finished fifth with this 5-0 victory against Burnley, can begin to believe that anything is possible. They play Bristol City in a two-leg semi-final this month for the right to compete in the final, against either Hull City or Watford, at Wembley on 24 May.
Neil Warnock, the Palace manager, took over at the club in October when the team were in the bottom two of the division and when a fight to avoid relegation seemed more likely than a realistic pursuit of promotion.
But it was momentum that carried Palace forward and now, having revived their season beyond all recognition, a place in the Premier League would seem appropriate.
"We are proud with what we have done, not just against Burnley but throughout the season," Warnock said. "We have got as good a chance as anyone else to be where we want to be. That was the first time my name was chanted by the supporters.
I think the chairman [Simon Jordan] knows he has got value for money with what we have here."
This match was won and lost from the moment, in the seventh minute, when Clarke Carlisle was sent off for fouling Clinton Morrison inside the 18-yard box and Ben Watson netted the resulting penalty.
Victor Moses scored from close range two minutes later and, late in the first half, with Morrison crossing from the left, Tom Soares nipped into the six-yard box to fire home.
Scott Sinclair added the fourth just after the hour mark before Morrison, who was splendid throughout, struck in the 65th minute for the 112th goal of his Palace career – just five short of making him the club's record scorer since the Second World War.
But this was Warnock's day and, for him, the chance to make amends.
"I wouldn't wish the 12 months that I've had on anybody," he said. "A year ago, I suffered relegation on the final day [from the Premier League with Sheffield United], and now I've had this with Palace. I probably didn't deserve either."
Goals: Watson pen (8) 1-0; Moses (10) 2-0; Soares (37) 3-0; Sinclair (61) 4-0; Morrison (65) 5-0.
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Butterfield, Hudson, Fonte, Hill; Soares, Derry (Fletcher, 58), Watson, Sinclair; Morrison (Scannell, 72), Moses (Ifill, 32). Substitutes not used: Craig, Scowcroft.
Burnley (4-5-1): Jensen; Alexander, Caldwell, Carlisle, Harley; Elliott (MacDonald, 70), Duff, O'Connor, Randall (Gudjonsson, h-t), McCann (Mahon, 81); Blake. Substitutes not used: Kiraly (gk), Jordan.
Referee: K Friend (Leicester).
Booked: Burnley Alexander.
Sent off: Burnley Carlisle (7).
Man of the match: Morrison.
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