Puneet Varma

1996 Football League First Division play off Final

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Date  27 May 1996
Attendance  73,573
Referee  D. Allison (Lancaster)
1996 Football League First Division play-off Final
Venue  Wembley Stadium, London

The 1996 Football League First Division play-off Final was a football match played at Wembley Stadium, London on May 27 1996 at the end of the 1995–96 season. The match determined the third and final team to gain promotion from First Division to the Premiership, and was contested by Leicester City, who finished fifth during the league season, and Crystal Palace, who finished third. The teams reached the final by defeating Stoke City and Charlton Athletic respectively in the two-legged semi-finals.

It was Leicester's fourth Football League First Division play-off final in five years, having lost to Blackburn Rovers and Swindon Town and beaten local rivals Derby County in three consecutive finals in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Crystal Palace had also been in the play-off final at this level before, also playing Blackburn Rovers, and beating them 4–3 on aggregate in 1989.

Summary

After a shaky start from both teams, Crystal Palace took the early advantage, netting after just 14 minutes thanks to a drilled effort from Andy Roberts. The game ebbed and flowed for the remainder of the half, with just the single goal separating the sides at half-time. Leicester came out fighting in the second half, with Steve Walsh seeing an attempt saved off the line just after the break. Their persistence eventually paid off after Marc Edworthy brought down Muzzy Izzet in the area and Garry Parker converted the resulting spot-kick with 15 minutes of regulation time left to play. The game ended 1-1 at 90 minutes and went into extra-time. The biggest talking point of extra-time came with just seconds to go; Martin O'Neill sent on his substitute goalkeeper Željko Kalac, expecting the 6 ft 7in keeper to be a better bet at saving penalties than Kevin Poole. Immediately following the resumption of play, a long free-kick was only partially cleared by the Crystal Palace defence and the ball came back out to an unmarked Steve Claridge on the edge of the Palace box. Claridge then shinned home the winner from 20 yards past the hapless Nigel Martyn with just 2 seconds of extra-time left to play. Some Crystal Palace players later admitted they were put off by the substitution, though O'Neill admitted that was never the intention.

References

1996 Football League First Division play-off Final Wikipedia


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