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Match Previews

Preview: Palace v Watford

26 May 2013


Despite narrowly missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season, Watford have won only four of their last 12 games, losing six times during that spell. Their most recent loss came in the 1-0 defeat to Leicester in the first leg of the play-off semi-final – a deficit they dramatically overturned at Vicarage Road through Troy Deeney’s 97th minute winner. 

Gianfranco Zola’s team are the favourites with the bookies to claim the final spot in next season’s Premier League though, with the front two of Deeney and Matej Vydra set to pose the main goal-scoring threats. The pairing has been prolific this season, netting 42 times between them.

The Hornets have won promotion to the Premier League twice via the play-offs, in 1999 and 2006, when they defeated Palace at the semi-final stage. Palace are the only side to have won the end of season competition on more occasions, having gained promotion to the top tier in 1989, 1997 and 2004. 

Watford finished third in the regular Championship season – and teams finishing in that position have an impressive play-off record in recent years. Five of the previous seven teams to come third in English football’s second tier have gone on to win the play-offs, including West Ham, who beat Ian Holloway’s Blackpool last year.  

Crystal Palace: The Eagles remain without club captain Paddy McCarthy and Norwegian full-back Jonny Parr. Leading scorer Glenn Murray is also sidelined after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the first leg of the semi-final against Brighton, while Stephen Dobbie is ineligible after his loan deal expired. All four players are set to travel with the rest of the squad to Wembley though. 

Watford: Gianfranco Zola has no new injury concerns following the semi-final victory over Leicester. Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond will take his place on the bench after being fitted with a face mask to protect the broken nose he suffered against Leeds. Fitz Hall is likely to be on the bench against his former club. 

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Peter Kirkup
Fourth Official: Neil Swarbrick

Palace and Watford met for the first time as Third Division opponents back in the 1920/21 season, with both matches ending in score draws. They were then regular opponents in the Old Third Division South for 14 years, before that pattern was interrupted by World War II. 

They resumed their rivalry in 1946, and continued as opponents in the Third Division South and the Fourth Division. During this period, the Eagles slumped to a humiliating 7-1 defeat at Vicarage Road in September 1954, before turning the tables in an emphatic 8-1 win five years later. 

The two sides have never met in English football’s top flight, but have been regular adversaries in the second tier since the 1993/94 season, barring short spells in the Premier League for both clubs. 

Crystal Palace and Watford finished the Championship season with the division’s two highest goals per game ratios. Ian Holloway’s men amassed an average of 1.587 goals in each of their 46 league matches, while the Hornets scored at a rate of 1.848 goals per game. And the previous eight meetings between the sides have seen 29 goals – an average of almost four per game.   

Their last encounter, at Vicarage Road, ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw, with Peter Ramage and Kevin Phillips earning the Eagles a point after falling 2-0 down in the first half. Watford stole the spoils with an 88th minute equaliser and a stoppage time winner by Vydra, when the teams met at Selhurst Park on the opening day of the season. 

Palace winsDrawsWatford wins
FA Cup023
League Cup111

For supporters travelling to the Play-Off Final by train, we would like to advise that there will be significant delays due to engineering works on the rail network at London Bridge station.

This means that platforms 8-13 at London Bridge will be closed during the May Bank holiday, but First Capital Connect and Southeastern will continue to serve London Bridge station as normal. 

Due to this, trains that would normally run between London Bridge and the stations shown below will now not be running: 

Tattenham Corner 
Beckenham Junction 

For supporters travelling to the game by car, parking arrangements can be made by calling 020 8900 2405. Car parking at the stadium costs £27.75 per car. Please note that anyone travelling to Wembley Stadium by car may be affected by delays and road closures in London, due to the BUPA London 10K road race. CLICK HERE for a full map of the route. 

For fans who have already booked on the club coaches, they depart from Selhurst Park at 11.30am. Supporters can leave their cars in the Directors Car Park at Selhurst rather than Sainsbury's as the supermarket impose fines after a three hour stay.  Please enter club car park via Holmesdale Road. 

Palace fans will be seated in the west side of the stadium and have therefore been told to drink at venues around that end of the ground.  The list of pubs that will be open to Crystal Palace supporters on Monday includes:  

The Green Man - Dagmar Avenue, Wembley, HA9 8DF
Blue Room - 53 Wembley Hill Road, Wembley, HA9 8BE
JJ Moons - 397 High Road, Wembley, HA9 7DT
Thirsty Eddie’s - 412 High Road, Wembley, HA9 6AH
Flannery’s - 610 High Road, Wembley, HA0 2AF
Innisfree - 30-32 Harrow Road, Wembley, HA9 6PG
Mannions - 313 Harrow Road, Wembley, HA9 6BA
The Copper Jug - 10 The Broadway, Wembley, HA9 8JU 
Fusilier - 652 Harrow Road, Wembley, HA0 2HA 
Powerleague - Olympic Way, Wembley
The Greyhound - 324 Harrow Road, Wembley HA9 6PG
Liquor Station - 379 High Road, Wembley, HA9 6AA

Palace win: 21/10
Draw: 11/5
Watford win: 7/5

Commentary of the whole match, including extra time and penalties if required, will be LIVE on Palace Player - CLICK HERE to subscribe or to login if you are already a member of the Player service. 

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