Kevin Phillips

Play-Off Spotlight: Crystal Palace

by Ashley Houghton

Super Kev hoping to help Eagles soar back to top flight.

Crystal Palace are looking to return to the Barclays Premier League after an eight- year stay in the Championship.

The Eagles were relegated from the top flight in the 2004-05 campaign and, despite reaching the play-offs on three occasions since their relegation, Palace were yet to reach the final until this season.

They narrowly defeated Sunderland in the semi-finals in 2003-04 before seeing off West Ham United 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium.

In both 2005-06 and 2007-08 the Eagles were defeated by Watford and Bristol City respectively at the semi-final stages.

If Palace were to succeed against Watford on Monday, they would come back into the Barclays Premier League knowing they haven’t won a league game on Wearside in 34 years.

And Sunderland’s record at Selhurst Park suggests the two sides could be in for a close encounter in London also as the Black Cats have won two, drawn one and lost three of their last visits to Palace.

Current boss Ian Holloway has won only two of his eight matches as a manager against the Black Cats; a 3-2 win with Plymouth Argyle at the Stadium of Light in 2006 and a 2-0 win with Blackpool at the same venue in 2010.

Palace’s current squad contains a familiar face to the Sunderland faithful in Kevin Phillips, who is currently on loan from Blackpool, still scoring freely with six goals in his 15 appearances.

The Eagles’ main man is Wilfried Zaha, who is on loan from Manchester United after signing for the Red Devils in January 2013.

And, though Holloway’s side are likely to be without the England U21 international next season, he will have a huge say in the result of the final against Watford having scored both goals against Brighton in the semi-finals.