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THOMAS TANKS IN; Crystal Palace 2 Wolves 3.

Geoff Thomas grabbed a fairytale winner to bury his 20-month injury nightmare.

It was Thomas' first full match since 1994 after a series of knee operations - and he made it count in spectacular style.

Palace had battled back from 2-0 down when Thomas rose magnificently to thunder home a header from Mark Venus's 60th-minute corner.

And, ironically, it came against the club he served so well until his move to Molineux nearly four years ago.

Boss Mark McGhee beamed: "No one deserves it more. His attitude has been tremendous and I'm sure a lot of players in the same situation would have just jacked the game in.

"But Geoff's always had complete confidence that he could fight back and that faith has kept him going.

"His physical work has been different class and when you add that to his positive nature it's an example to anyone that you can beat adversity.

"All those lonely hours on the running track, on the bike and in the gym have paid off - I'm just so happy for him."

And a delighted Thomas said: "It was fantastic to score, but to be honest I was just pleased to have come through 90 minutes without any reaction.

"I had a great time as a Palace player and I've still got a lot of friends down here, but I'm not sure if they'll be talking to me tonight."

Early on, it looked like Aussie Steve Corica was certain to get star billing after he scored twice in the first 13 minutes.

And new Socceroos boss Terry Venables will surely be making a bee-line for the Midlands to watch the 23-year-old midfielder at first hand.

He took just eight minutes to make his mark with the calmest of lobs to convert Robbie Dennison's through ball.

Corica doubled the lead when he sprinted on to Andy Thompson's throw- in and dribbled round Chris Day to roll the ball in.

McGhee said: "I dropped Steve for a few games because he just hadn't been doing it and a spell out the team obviously fired him up."

Amazingly, this was Wanderers' sixth away win in nine League games this term and keeps them right up in the promotion hunt.

McGhee confirmed: "This was our most important match so far, because we simply couldn't afford to lose it.

"I still think Palace together with Bolton are the best two teams in the Division and that makes this win very satisfying."

And McGhee claims he wasn't too surprised at the way his side frittered away their 2-0 interval lead within 10 minutes of the restart.

Carl Veart's shot on the turn and then Bruce Dyer's angled drive looked likely to set up second-placed Palace for a storming victory.

But McGhee said: "It's no secret that we've been a bit fragile at the back but we just rolled up our sleeves and started again."
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Harris, Trevor
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 24, 1996
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