Hartlepool manager Graeme Lee insisted he will be forever grateful to Crystal Palace after the Premier League club donated towards his wife’s cancer treatment on the eve of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie.
First-half goals by Marc Guehi and Michael Olise helped the Eagles to a comfortable 2-0 win but the result played second fiddle to the positive relations built between the two teams since the draw.
Lee expressed his gratitude to the south London outfit, who subsidized the travel of the 4,700 Hartlepool fans in attendance before they made a donation to the JustGiving page of Gemma Lee.
The initial target for the JustGiving page of £60,000 – to fund a year’s supply of medicine – was hit on Saturday morning after a tweet by the official Twitter account of the Premier League club on Friday.
Lee said: “What Crystal Palace have done, not only for putting the buses on for the fans to come down but for what they have done for me and my wife is absolutely immense.
“I am forever grateful and not just to the club but for the fans’ support. Last time I looked before the game it was over a year’s supply of medication for my wife and for us to know that it is absolutely unbelievable.
“The support and messages from the fans means as much, especially for my wife because the well-wishes and positive energy coming for her can only help.
“A massive thanks from me, especially to all of Crystal Palace. I will follow Crystal Palace and hope they have success going forward now for what they have done.”
Backed by a buoyant away support, Hartlepool granted after four minutes when Olise picked out Guehi to tap home from a free-kick.
The creator turned goalscorer with 22 minutes on the clock when Olise cut inside and curled into the bottom corner to make it 2-0, which was how it ended.
“The way we started the game didn’t help us, we invited them on too much and the goal from a set-play we shouldn’t concede,” Lee admitted.
“The fans were absolutely immense. Once we lifted our intensity, they lifted their noise and they have been immense the whole time.
“After the game the atmosphere, the players and fans needed that moment for the cup run we’ve had. It was special.”
Lee spoke with opposite number Patrick Vieira before and after the match, adding: “Near enough everyone I have shaken hands with I’ve tried to say thank you.
“I spoke to Patrick before the game and told him how grateful I was. He just said what a club he works for and that it is a family club and one that looks after people. You can see that.”
The Eagles boss was pleased with the intensity of his players from the first whistle at Selhurst Park.
Vieira said: “I was really pleased with the team’s performance. What we wanted was to start the game well and we did. We managed to score the early goals that allowed us to control the game a little bit more.
“We knew it could be a tricky game but from the first minute we went on the field with a lot of respect for the opposition.”
A stoppage occurred in the second half when a fan in the away end required medical treatment.
Staff from both teams helped the supporter in the stand and Vieira was able to provide a positive update at full-time.
He added: “I was just asking with the doc at the end, he was telling me the fan is doing good and there is nothing to worry about, so that was positive news.”