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Battling Eagles avoid the drop
Darren Ambrose ensured Crystal Palace's new owners will be buying a Coca-Cola Championship club this summer, but the Londoners were left clinging on for survival as this last-day relegation decider ended 2-2 at a sold-out Hillsborough.
Ambrose, who could be one of several Palace players sold in the summer as the cash-strapped Londoners bid to come out of administration, delivered a dagger blow to Sheffield Wednesday's survival hopes when he buried a right-footed finish to put Palace 2-1 ahead in the 62nd minute.
Wednesday skipper Darren Purse struck an 87th-minute equaliser to give his side brief hope and ensure a thrilling finale - but only a win would have prevented them crashing back down to Coca-Cola League One for the second time in five years.
Owls fans missed a collective heartbeat in the third minute when Palace skipper Shaun Derry's inviting cross was fired straight at goalkeeper Lee Grant by Palace forward Calvin Andrew. Andrew escaped with a yellow card in the 14th minute after his studs caught Grant full in the face, but the Owls goalkeeper recovered to keep out Darren Ambrose's fine free-kick at full stretch soon after.
But Grant was beaten in the 24th minute. Ambrose swung over a corner and Lee towered above the home defence to crash his header high into the centre of goal.
Clarke and most of Hillsborough howled for a penalty after the big Owls striker was sent tumbling in the penalty area shortly before the break, but referee Mike Dean was unimpressed.
The moment Wednesday fans had been desperate for came two minutes before half-time. Palace right-back Danny Butterfield made a hash of a long ball forward and was robbed out wide by Leon Clarke, who raced in on goal at an acute angle and curled the ball home brilliantly inside Julian Speroni's far post.
Wednesday pressed the visitors back after the break and only a superb sprawling save by Speroni stopped Luke Varney giving the Owls a 59th-minute lead.
But it was Palace who broke the deadlock three minutes later. Sean Scannell weaved his way to the byline and cut the ball back for Ambrose to bury a low, right-footed shot beyond Grant.
Nerves then began to tell for both sides before Purse raised the Hillsborough roof when his outstretched leg converted at the far post in the 86th minute. Palace somehow scrambled clear another corner and then hit the post through substitute Stern John in a nerve-shredding finish.
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