Freedman delight as Palace stay up

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Football News

Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman hailed Ibra Sekajja after the youngster came off the bench to secure his team's npower Championship survival in a 1-1 draw at Hull.

Anthony Gerrard's goal for the Tigers looked to have inflicted a defeat on the Eagles, but Sekajja made a stunning impact a minute after his 87th-minute arrival to net the leveller, while Sheffield United's failure to beat Barnsley ensured the Blades' relegation was confirmed.

Freedman said: "Ibra Sekajja fully deserved his opportunity. He's a great kid to work with, as a lot of the young kids are here. He's come through the ranks and we've had him since he was 14. He's done well and to score the goal that clinched our place in the Championship for next season was special."

He added: "I'm not sure about his goal celebration, but it certainly showed how he felt about scoring on his debut, straight after being sent on. I couldn't have celebrated a goal like that!

"Ibra got his chance because we were missing eight first-teamers and had a very young side out there. We're a very tight group and it's a great credit to the younger guys."

Hull counterpart Nigel Pearson said there would be movement at the KC Stadium after his team's play-off bid fizzled out.

The future of on-loan Gerrard, borrowed from Cardiff, remains unclear but Pearson confirmed new-look personnel would be in next season's ranks.

He said: "We need to improve, we need to strengthen, but we have the nucleus of the side here now. Six months back we could have gone out of business. I'm not sure that people realise how close we were.

"But we survived and have moved forward. Now I have to be realistic and pragmatic. Looking at the team for next season, there are bound to be changes. We don't know yet if we will have Anthony Gerrard, the ball's in his court. Joe Dudgeon from Manchester United was in the crowd and we hope something will happen very shortly.

"We have offered Richard Garcia a new contract. He had to leave the field, but he has been carrying an injury and he's been playing when most other players wouldn't have. It shows his personal drive."

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Dougie Freedman
Cardiff City
Manchester United
Anthony Gerrard
Sheffield United
Crystal Palace
Richard Garcia
Hull City

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