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Ambrose: A Moment To Cherish

7 November 2014


This weekend's visit to Old Trafford will once again bring back memories of that special night in November 2011 when the club reached the semi-finals of the League Cup with a superb 2-1 victory against Manchester United. 

A half-time substitute in that match was to be the man to break the deadlock and write himself in the Palace history books with an excellent strike, as Darren Ambrose was part of a squad arriving at the Theatre Of Dreams eager to get the chance to cause a cup upset. 

"It's a fantastic feeling when as a player you arrive in the coach to play at Old Trafford. It is an historic stadium with such great tradition and every player wants the opportunity to play on that stage and a chance to show what they are capable of doing. 

"Of late maybe Manchester United haven't hit the form that everyone knows they are capable of but it is a fantastic place to be part of with the noise of their capacity crowd, and this weekend, the normal vocal travelling support from Crystal Palace."

The former Palace midfielder recalls how the Palace manager on that night Dougie Freedman was keen in the build up to the game to ensure that the squad were not making the journey up to the north-west just to make the numbers up. 

"Dougie said to us prior to the game that we were a good squad of players, so we should make sure we believe in our own ability and have no fear about being drawn against Manchester United in such a big cup-tie," Ambrose added. 

"From our point of view it was a nothing-to-lose game and as we all know with cup games there is always a chance of an upset. 

"When we arrived for the game we saw the team that they had selected and it was stronger than what everyone was expecting. We had a great bunch of lads within the squad with a lot of confidence and spirit, an ingredient that gets you a long way and that was proved on the night."

The day before the game Darren was disappointed when he found out he wasn't in the starting 11 but that first-half patience on the bench paid off as he got the nod to get ready for the game at the break.  

"When I found out I wasn't in the side I was personally frustrated because you want to be involved in every game but the reasons were explained to me and I just had to wait for the opportunity. 

"That came about at half-time when I was introduced into the game. Wilf picked the ball up and I found myself in space just inside their half and as all Palace fans know I like to drift into those areas.


"As I took the shot I think it was just one of those moments where everything just seems to go right as the strike was perfect. When I speak to football fans, regardless of the team they support, talk to me about that goal and it is a lovely feeling just recalling the magic of that night."

The match was shown live on Sky Sports and the normal post-match analysis from Gary Neville saw him point out that the shot from distance was the best he had seen at Old Trafford, words that just added to the evening's success story for the current Ipswich Town midfielder.

"To hear that comment from someone of the stature of Gary Neville who played at the top level of the game for many years was a fantastic line to be told when I was speaking to the media after the game. 

"Footballers will tell you that there are many ups and downs in your career and you have to take both in equal measure but that night was something I will cherish for a long, long time. 

"It was even better for us all on the night to get the result, if I had scored that goal and we hadn't won the match it wouldn't have meant as much to me so it was good to cap a great night off with us winning a place in the semi-finals."

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