Crystal Palace Iain Dowie was delighted with his players after they bounced back from defeat at Derby with a deserved 1-0 win at home to Gillingham on Saturday.

He has turned Palace round from almost relegation certainties to real play-off contenders!

A 53rd-minute volley from Danny Butterfield was enough to give the Eagles the victory, at Selehurst Park, leaving Palace just two points from the play-offs.

Palace had gone down to 10 men five minutes earlier after defender Mark Hudson on loan from Premiership Fulham commited a profesional foul in the penalty box and was sent off.

But, luckily for the hosts, Gillingham's Nicky Southall missed a twice-taken penalty and the in-form Eagles went on to their sixth victory in seven matches.

"We played better than we did at Derby and I was pleased with how we responded," said Dowie. "It was all about our ability to bounce back, and we showed we can do it by winning against Gillingham.

"I have to say that after the first half I thought it wasn't going to be our day because their keeper made a number of good saves.

"Then they got the penalty. I'd like the ref to look at the video regarding his decision to send off Mark. If it's wrong then it's wrong. We'll miss him if he's suspened.

"I have to say I disagreed with the penalty been retaken for Cedric coming off his line because he saved along the line."

Top-scorer Andrew Johnson was causing the Gills havoc early on, forcing a good save from Lars Hirschfeld after 13 minutes and two minutes later, he put a Butterfield cross just wide.

But shortly after, Gills replied with a good effort themselves as player-manager Hessenthaler's header was saved by Berthelin.

Neil Shipperley saw his shot blocked by Gillingham defender Barry Ashby, and then Hirschfeld stopped a Julian Gray header.

Hirschfeld, currently on-loan from Tottenham, thwarted Johnson again before Berthelin made a fantastic save from Rod Wallace's 25-yard strike.

In the second half, Johnson went close again but the main talking point of the game was to follow in the 48th minute. Hudson committed a professional foul on Mamady Sidibe in the box and was shown the red card.

Southall's spot-kick was saved by Berthelin but the referee asked for it to be retaken after the French stopper was adjudged to have moved off his line. But Southall's second attempt crashed against the crossbar.

Five minutes later, Butterfield volleyed in from the edge of the box for what proved to be the winning goal.

Dowie added: "Gillingham played a 4-1-3-2 formation and it took a little while for us to get into it, but I thought as the game wore on Michael Hughes and Neil Shipperley were monumental.

"Butterfield's goal was good enough to win any game. We actually did volleying practice on Wednesday and Danny was very good at it. He's very good technically and it was a great goal, it really was."

Palace, who were at Rotherham last night as we went to press, entertain Reading this Staurday.