Goalscorers: Bryan Hughes 30, Dougie Freedman 58, Andy Johnson 70 PEN, Jonathan Fortune 82
Charlton Athletic: Dean Kiely, Talal El Karkouri, Jonathan Fortune, Radostin Kishishev, Paul Konchesky, Luke Young, Matt Holland (Lloyd Sam 67), Bryan Hughes, Danny Murphy (Dennis Rommedahl 76), Shaun Bartlett (Jerome Thomas 79), Jonatan Johansson
Crystal Palace: Gabor Kiraly, Danny Butterfield (Dougie Freedman 55), Danny Granville, Fitz Hall, Mikele Leigertwood, Tony Popovic, Tom Soares (Aki Riihilahti 86), Michael Hughes, Ben Watson (Darren Powell 89), Wayne Routledge, Andy Johnson
Referee: Mark Clattenburg, Attendance: 26,870
It was the final day of the 2004-2005 season and ‘Survival Sunday.’ None of the bottom four clubs were safe. By the end of the day, only one team from Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion would be celebrating another season in the Premier League with the other three sides having to face up to the agony of relegation.
Iain Dowie’s Crystal Palace side travelled to The Valley to take on a Charlton Athletic side that hadn’t won in the Premier League since mid-March. Despite winning just once on their travels all season at Birmingham City, Dowie must have been confident that a victory would be enough for the Eagles to avoid relegation for the first time in their Premier League history.
Given the circumstances, they made a very nervous start and were punished by their more experienced opponents after 30 minutes. Played in by Radostin Kishishev, Bryan Hughes made a run from his wide position, shrugged off the attentions of Danny Butterfield and used the post to guide the ball into the back of the net. It was the home side’s first notable attack of the match and it had led to the opening goal. At half-time, Palace were going down. Defeat would condemn them to the drop, no matter what was happening elsewhere.
Having started with just one lone forward in Andy Johnson, Dowie knew he needed to take a risk now. 10 minutes into the second half, he withdrew Butterfield and threw on a second forward in Dougie Freedman. The change had the desired early impact. With only his second touch of the match, Freedman exposed a missing Charlton backline and bought Palace level, calmly lifting the ball over Dean Kiely. Incredibly, it was his first Premier League goal of the season and what a time to get it.
Results elsewhere were generally going for the south Londoners too. The dream was over for Norwich, who would lose 6-0 at Fulham whilst Southampton’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United saw their top-flight run come to a shattering end. Maybe unknown at the time to the players but it was now a straight fight between West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.
West Brom were leading Portsmouth 2-0 but another goal for Dowie and his troops would put them in pole position to survive. They got their opportunity with 20 minutes to go. A long goal-kick from Gabor Kiraly found Freedman. As he attempted to cut inside Jonathan Fortune, the defender stopped him with his hand. Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty. In such a tense scenario, Johnson stepped up and sent Kiely the wrong way to put the visitors 2-1 ahead. It was his 21st goal of the season.
However, heartache would follow. A rash challenge from Mikele Leigertwood gave Charlton a free-kick in the 82nd minute. It was delivered into the back post by Jerome Thomas and Fortune made up for his earlier error by powering the Addicks level. The draw meant Crystal Palace were relegated and West Brom survived. It had been a nail-biting and ultimately, heartbreaking afternoon for the Eagles.