Holloway gives Crystal Palace the edge

15May 2013

England - The Championship


After Crystal Palace confirmed their Wembley date with Watford, Christian Crowther takes an early look at the play-off final markets...


Not in their wildest dreams could even the most optimistic of Crystal Palace fans have predicted a win to nil aggregate scoreline in their play-off semi-final against  Brighton.


After all, their bitterest rivals represented the form team, going nine unbeaten before their first-leg visit to Selhurst Park.


A fairly attritional contest in south London didn't give much away and, given Palace's recent 3-0 thumping at the Amex, another Brighton win looked by far the most  likely conclusion to this two-legged contest.


Cue the perfect away performance from Ian Holloway's Eagles. Palace stifled Brighton throughout, limiting them to just one really clear-cut chance, and finally found  their own counter-attacking exploits rewarded with 22 minutes to go.


Outgoing star Wilfried Zaha's brace in the closing stages settled matters, while credit must go to Holloway for an astute double substitution not long before the first  goal.


Having finished the regular season in timid fashion, the south London outfit are 3.3 outsiders to overcome Watford at Wembley.


However, the fact that their eccentric boss is making his third play-off final appearance in three seasons at Championship level should weigh in the Eagles' favour.


Nevertheless, that hugely significant derby victory will have the Eagles' confidence soaring ahead of the grand final.


Palace's opponents endured a far more dramatic passage to the final, recreating scenes reminiscent of Doncaster's incredible League One title-winning game away to  Brentford.


The 2.5 favourites to win and book Premier League football next season could so easily have been knocked out by Leicester, who had a stoppage-time penalty saved before Troy Deeney's clincher.


The two regular season meetings between these sides produced nine goals in all, with Watford coming out the slight winners at Selhurst Park, while the 2-2 draw at  Vicarage Road could easily have gone Palace's way.


Over 3.5 Wembley goals can currently be matched at around 3.9.


Holloway's disapproving comments about Watford's exploitation of the loan market in the wake of that draw could well be revisited ahead of this clash, giving the game  some extra needle.


Recommended Bet: Back Crystal Palace to win @ 3.3



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Keywords: Holloway, Crystal Palace

Source: Betfair

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