Holloway hails Crystal Palace fight
Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway has praised his side’s spirit after they won promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs.
An extra-time penalty from Kevin Phillips ensured Palace ran out 1-0 winners against Watford in Monday’s final at Wembley to secure a return to the top flight.
Holloway’s men had dominated the second half following a cagey opening period, and the former Blackpool manager believes his side more than did enough to claim the spoils.
“We fought and battled it out, we had a tough few weeks before the play-offs, people were disappointed not to get in through automatic promotion,” he told Sky Sports.
“We’re in the Premier League now. It’s absolutely massive for the club and I’m delighted for everyone connected, I feel very privileged.”
Phillips’ spot-kick ensured that the ex-Sunderland man won his first play-off final in four attempts, and the 39-year-old could not hide his delight.
“It’s fourth time lucky, I’ve lost three play-off finals. I’m delighted to get that feeling,” he said.
“To come on and get the winning goal against the club where it all started is a fairytale.”
Defeat for Watford comes at the end of a dramatic season in which they narrowly missed out on automatic promotion on the final day but booked their place in the play-off final with a last-minute goal against Leicester.
Manager Gianfranco Zola conceded that the loss will hurt everyone at the club, but insisted his team will come back stronger next term.
“It is tough for me and is tough for everyone connected to Watford. It hasn’t been our best game but to lose to an extra-time penalty is hard to take,” Zola said.
“They (Crystal Palace) played well and probably deserved more than us, so congratulations to them.
“We have to be honest, it has been remarkable. We had a lot of fun this year. We are going to make a stronger team. The players we believe are good enough, and if we want them to stay, they stay.”
Mon 27 May, 2013