Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway has praised the fighting spirit of his side to secure a Championship play-off place.When Dougie Freedman left the club for Bolton in November, Holloway took the reigns and, despite their high position in the league, promotion was never thought likely given their struggles in recent seasons.
promotion place but a terrible run of form saw them drop
down the table and even threatened their participation in the play-offs.
"When I first came here came no one said we had to go up," he said. "But we had a
chance because of the way we were playing. Now we are in there
"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.
"In life you have to grab things out of the fire and be brave and strong enough."
Going into their final game of the season, Palace had not won in nine games, but a 3-2 victory over Peterborough secured fifth position.
Glen Murray ended an eight-game run without scoring in that victory, but they had to rely on the experienced heads of Kevin Phillips and Mile Jedinak to secure the points and set up a play-off semi-final with fierce rivals Brighton.
Despite their poor form, Holloway never lost faith in the ability his side had and insisted he had seen encouraging signs in his side's performances.
"I think we have got stronger over the last couple of weeks because
things had been rosy," he said.
"Then it went wrong and nearly everyone in the
ground, bar me, thought we were going to throw it away.
"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."The play-off semi-final gives Palace the chance to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2005, and Holloway knows that beating Brighton to get to the final would be even sweeter for the club's fans.
"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."
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