Fortune seals Palace's fate to leave Dowie distraught

Charlton Athletic 2 - Crystal Palace 2
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The Independent Football

The sight of Iain Dowie at the end would have rendered asunder even the hardest of hearts. After all, it had been the Crystal Palace manager who, almost by sheer force of personality and magnetic belief, had manoeuvred his club into a state where survival was possible. But here he was in shock. In disbelief. And then he was distraught. His hands were on his head, then on his face, then cradling himself. The tears, too, came. And all this happened out there on the turf.

The sight of Iain Dowie at the end would have rendered asunder even the hardest of hearts. After all, it had been the Crystal Palace manager who, almost by sheer force of personality and magnetic belief, had manoeuvred his club into a state where survival was possible. But here he was in shock. In disbelief. And then he was distraught. His hands were on his head, then on his face, then cradling himself. The tears, too, came. And all this happened out there on the turf.

By the time he came to speak the defiance had returned. "Bouncebackability," Dowie said in reference to the phrase he has added to the football lexicon "some stupid idiot made that expression. But it is what we need. We have not gone down with a whimper. We have gone down with heart and courage." Palace are a Championship side now, he said, and the declaration must have stuck in his throat. "Don't be frightened of things like hardship," Dowie added "because you can come back more positively."

Hardship is not usually associated with professional football. But fortune is. And it was always going to play its part. At times cruel, at times kind. But always outrageous. In this case it was personified. Charlton's Jonathan Fortune gifted the two goals that, after the second went in, for 12 mesmeric minutes left Palace in the Premiership. And then, with just nine minutes left, he powered in the header that sent them down.

Given that the defender had been booked for handball when conceding the penalty that allowed Andrew Johnson to score his 21st Premiership goal then Palace argued he should not have been on the field to score himself. "He actually patted the ball down," said Dowie "I don't know how the fella stayed on." But Fortune did and his goal was a moment frozen in time.

It will certainly haunt Mikele Leigertwood who needlessly bundled over substitute Jerome Thomas, who then dipped in the free-kick for Fortune to send Palace into a collective hell. That Charlton's fans celebrated quite so gleefully at Palace's fate was merely an indictment of their own indifferent end to the season and possibly, also, a bitter legacy of their dark time as tenants at Selhurst Park.

Still, this was a derby of sorts although local rivalries mean little when the 12 miles that separate these two clubs suddenly becomes a million with relegation. Away goes the glamour and £18m of television money and maybe, also, Dowie and Johnson. The striker left the pitch without a Palace shirt on. Whether he wears one again remains to be seen.

But that is for tomorrow. Today Palace will wonder how they became the first club to be relegated from the Premiership four times. And how they did not gain what would have been only their second away win and a victory against a Charlton side who appeared, at times, utterly bereft.

It was Charlton, however, who took the lead. On the half-hour Shaun Bartlett laid the ball off to Radostin Kishishev whose clever, instinctive pass released Bryan Hughes inside the Palace defence and just on-side. He shot as he was tackled and the ball clipped the far post and bounced in.

Before that Charlton had played like the division's most out-of-form team. Palace almost scored with Fitz Hall and Wayne Routledge both going close.

But it was not until the introduction of Dougie Freedman that Palace profited. The Scot has started 10 league games, with 10 substitute appearances, without scoring but he did so here within a couple of minutes when Fortune, disorientated, headed a punt into the air and then drop into Freedman's path. He coolly lobbed Dean Kiely.

Freedman then broke free after a slip by Talal El Karkouri and flicked in a cross that struck Fortune's arm. But the penalty was not enough. Palace had played Eye of the Tiger in the dressing room beforehand, but they were not survivors.

Goals: Hughes (30) 1-0; Freedman (57) 1-1; Johnson (70, pen) 1-2; Fortune (82) 2-2.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Konchesky; Kishishev, Holland (Thomas, 67), Murphy (Sam, 76), Hughes; Bartlett (Rommedahl, 80) Johansson. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Perry.

Crystal Palace (4-5-1): Kiraly; Butterfield (Freedman, 56), Popovic, Hall, Granville; Soares (Powell, 86), Leigertwood, Hughes, Watson (Riihilahti, 90), Routledge; Johnson. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Ventola.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Booked: Charlton: Konchesky, Fortune. Crystal Palace: Soares, Johnson.

Man of the match: Freedman.

Attendance: 26,870.

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