For your Portsmouth report, please go to Final Nationwide volume.
There will be no report from the Huddersfield game, as I will be in California (working). BTW, why not scroll down to the bottom of the page for a great picture of Deano by Roland Silcox. It is preceded by one of the West Sussex branch at Maine Road, Brian Cole and Roland Silcox being among the well-known Addicks pictured.
If someone had said at the beginning of the season we would get an away draw at Notts Forest that would have been regarded as a good result. If it had also been revealed that we would as a consequence be eleven points clear at the top of the table, the listener would have been gobsmacked. But such are the expectations that have been created that an away draw is regarded as a defeat rather than a respectable result. Many of the players were clearly gutted at the end of the match, not least captain Mark Kinsella.
The idea is that we turn up with our champions merchandise, play some exhibition football and then put the ball in the back of the net a few times. But football isn't like that. You can't read off results from a form book.
Charlton's start at Forest contrasted strongly with that at Port Vale. They were in attacking mode, but it was not until late in the half that their dominance was rewarded with a goal from Andy Hunt. Forest stepped up a gear when they came out for the second half and Charlton lost control of their game. An ominous development was when Forest had a player sent off, demonstrating the old adage that playing against ten men is harder than playing against eleven. Forest levelled from a penalty after Barness had been judged to bring down one of their players in the box. The penalty was unfortunate, but even more so was the failure to take chances earlier in the game. For a while it looked as if Forest might make it 2-1, but Charlton got back in control of the game in the closing minutes, but not to an extent that they could score. To get the result in proportion, it is worth remembering that if Charlton drew all their remaining games and Manchester City won all theirs, the Addicks would still be champions. But perhaps the premature celebrations should be dampened down until we are actually there.
I knew that the Addickted had entered into the spirit of the day when at Watford Gap I saw a fan wearing a yellow jumper with 'Merry Christmas' on it. The chanting and singing started well before the beginning of the game.
The team showed they were up for it, putting pressure on Forest from the start, although their initial reward was nothing more than a sequence of throw ins. Then Stuart made a great run, but was not able to finish it off. Newts won a free kick and Rufus just failed to connect with the cross put in by Kinsella. Robbo over hit a cross which could have otherwise opened things up. A counter attack saw Robbo provide the ball to Newts who shot straight at Besant. There was plenty of pressure from Charlton, but they were failing to penetrate a not particularly impressive Forest defence. This pattern was confirmed when Robbo acted as provider to Andy Hunt who put the ball straight in to the keeper.
Over twenty minutes had passed before Forest had launched anything that could be described as an attack, Beasant powering the ball into the void behind us. Charlton were not exactly threatening either and nearly half an hour passed before the Addicks won their first corner. This was taken as a short corner and the follow through inevitably ended up with the keeper. Barness put in a hopeful shot which went wide.
On 36 minutes Forest won their first corner, a rather marginal decision, but it was cleared without too much difficulty. Graham Stuart then put in a 25-yard effort which went just wide of the post. On 40 minutes Steve Brown made use of a hole in the Forest defence to launch a ball forward to the waiting Hunt. It had just enough momentum to trickle over the line and give the man up front his 23rd goal of the season.
As might be expected, Forest came out after the break more up for it. Charlton started to panic a little and instead of playing their controlled passing game started to make too much use of the long ball in the hope that it would connect with the man up front. Early in the game, Svensson got through, but instead of having a shot laid the ball off and the chance was missed. Stern John had clearly not been stern enough as he was taken off and replaced by Jack Lester. Svensson who is nothing if not committed whatever his critics say then got booked for fouling Calderwood.
Ten minutes after the break Deano was called into action to make his first save of the game. A free kick was taken by Chris Bart-Williams. Calderwood headed the ball back across goal and Lester seemed sure to score with a half volley, until Deano interposed himself between ball and net. As the Sunday Times commented in its report, this was a 'Premiership class' save.
The game was now opening up more, with Mark Kinsella playing an increasingly important role. Forest decided to draw on their reserves of talent by taking off the hapless Hjelde and bringing on John Terry sending a frisson of excitement among the rather quiet Forest fans. I consulted my programme, but Terry did not seem to have featured before this season. Calderwood was then booked for a foul on Hunt. Around 65 minutes Hunt just missed. On 68 minutes Svensson was taken off for Pringle. Robbo made poor use of an opportunity sending the ball way over to his obvious anguish.
Calderwood decided that Pringle needed his attention and received a second yellow. I think that it is often harder to play against ten men as it inspires the affected team to greater efforts. Charlton did win a corner but it came to nothing and at the other end Rufus was required to intercept an attack. Robbo had another chance, but Beasant had little difficulty in saving.
With less than then minutes to go, and the chances of waving bye-bye to the Nationwide improving, Barness brought down Brennan as he ran into the area. Although it is difficult to make a judgement from the opposite end of the pitch, to my mind it was a clear penalty. Graham Stuart didn't agree and got booked for his complaint. The greatly overrated Chris Bart-Williams managed to send Kiely the wrong way and the ball ended up in the bottom left-hand corner of the net. The Forest fans went delirious.
Forest now had the psychological advantage and for a few minutes Charlton looked badly rattled. Two Forest corners in succession gave cause for concern. David Prutton was taken off and Andy Gray came on on 87 minutes and then Scott Parker replaced Newts. Charlton surged forward in attack in the closing minutes, but never looked like recovering their lead. Andy Hunt had a final chance at the death, but was denied by Chris Bart-Williams, author of the shortest book in the history of football, The Chris Bart-Williams Book of Soccer Skills.
During the long wait for the coach convoy to form up, we discussed the news that four Charlton coaches had been involved in a crash after a car had pulled out with one or two Addicks being taken to hospital and others receiving cuts and bruises. I learned from Charlton Live on Sunday evening that the crash was caused by a brakes failure and that fifteen people required hospital treatment. Pam from Sidcup forcefully informed us that a draw away at Forest was equivalent to a defeat. One good aspect of being in the Premiership is that the fans will not expect us to automatically win every match. A little realism is called for: we have played well this season, but, as Curbs has commented, we have never really played a team off the park. Promotion should now be secured at The Valley, possibly against Huddersfield, certainly against Portsmouth. Unfortunately, I will be in California for the Huddersfield game.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to the doughty Steve Brown who made a series of crucial defensive interventions and also provided the assist for Andy Hunt. The talk of signing another keeper as competition for Dean Kiely surprises me. Apart from the fact that I think that Royce is also a good keeper, it seems to me that Deano has done us proud this season, making another vital save in this match. Rufus was very much in control of things to the extent that one often doesn't notice how much he is contributing. I wrote the word 'hopeless' once in my notes in relation to Barness . One one occasion, an attacking opportunity was converted into an opposition thrown in. He gets A for effort and commitment, but B- for skill. Chris Powell made some of his penetrating runs forward, outwitting the Forest defence, admittedly not the hardest task in the world. Newts made some good runs forward, although he fluffed one chance to score. Robbo had two of the best chances to score and failed to make use of both of them. Kinsella came into the game more and more as it went on, organising and dominating the midfield. Stuart had some good runs forward and came close to scoring. Hunt did the necessary again, but missed one good chance to score. Svennson has a good work rate, but doesn't look very creative to me. And where was Kitson? Not even on the bench. I wonder if it might have been better to start with Pringle who might have been better at unsettling a pretty naff defence. As it was, he had insufficient time to weave his magic. Parker had just a cameo appearance.
Some Addicks were blaming the referee afterwards, but I thought that he was both fair and efficient, if perhaps a bit too inclined to blow the whistle. The linos also seemed, rather unusually, to have some familiarity with the rules of the game. Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to Forest manager David Platt (or should that be 'Pratt'). Before the game he was claiming that the scoreline at The Valley flattered us. Afterwards, he claimed, 'It's a thin dividing line. In terms of quality, I don't think we're behind them at all. What they have is resilience.' If he thinks that, Forest should get a new manager. Then they might be able to play 'Robin Hood and his Merry Men' again.
The lady in the row behind us at Vale Park had been brought to beautiful downtown Burslem as a mother's day treat. But she didn't get much of a treat on the pitch as Charlton had to struggle for a point. The Addicks' first half performance was one of the worst I have seen all season. Much of the time the Addicks seemed to be sitting back for Vale to come at them. When they did move forward it was often through long balls or wild passes across the park which were far too fast and inaccurate for the recipient to control. Charlton seemed to be muscled off the ball too easily by a physical Vale side. Valiant work by Rufus kept them in the game, but it was no surprise when a space opened up in the 39th minute and Viljanen struck what was admittedly a good goal from the edge of the area, Keily being left stranded.
Curbs's talking to at half time didn't seem to have done much good as the game resumedin a scrappy fashion. Such was the balance of play that it was sometime into the half before Charlton got their first corner of the match. Unusually for Charlton, it was from a Kinsella corner that Rufus headed the ball into the back of the net to level the score. But a rampant Vale took a leaf out of Charlton's book and went down the other end and scored within a minute. It was then left to the man up front, Andy Hunt, to restore Charlton's dignity with another goal from a corner on 71 minutes. Charlton pressed forward in the last twenty minutes but were unable to get the winning goal, Mark Kinsella coming nearest with a shot from an impossibly awkward angle. Svensson, brought on in the dying minutes of the game, had a shout for a penalty, but the referee was having none of it. The one consolation was that Ipswich could only manage to draw at West Brom and Charlton's lead extended to 14 points (until Wednesday night).
It was a bitterly cold windy night in Burslem and accurate play was not helped by the condition of the pitch which led the ball to bobble around. Parking the car we noticed that Millennium Radio's Jaguar had already arrived. As usual at an away match there were a number of stalwarts in evidence: a number of members of the West Sussex branch who had come up with Brian Cole; Pam from Sidcup; Neal Target; and Steve from Sidcup's brother, Pete, who sat next to me. In all there I would estimate that there were around a thousand Addickted there out of a total attendance of 4,513. Evidently United on television was a greater draw for some and Burslem is nothing if not 'old economy' which must affect the willingness of the supporter base to pay up to see what looks like a doomed team. In any event, the Addickted were in good voice, starting a full range of chants and songs before play had begun. One of the more unusual chants was 'You'll never win your court case' referring to the upcoming legal action on whether Charlton should paid to park their coaches at Port Vale two years ago. Since I was last at Vale Park two years ago, the collection of huts on one side of the ground has been replaced by a half completed new stand, although empty spaces predominated throughout the ground. In any event, Vale will have one of the better grounds in the second division next season.
A worrying development early in the match was when Deano was injured going for the ball. He required treatment, but recovered to make a good catch a few minutes later. The start to the match was generally quiet, with Vale seeing most of the ball, but doing little with it. The one Charlton chance came as the twenty minute mark approached. Kitson took advantage of a through ball from Robbo, but his shot was blocked by Pilkington coming off his line. Kitson managed to recover the ball and get a cross in, but it was saved by the keeper.
With Vale pressing forward, Chris Powell made a good clearance. Vale then put in what looked like a wide shot, but a corner was awarded. This was cleared, but shortly afterwards Barness was injured and required quite lengthy treatment for what looked like a cut above the eye. Steve Brown was then judged by the referee to have made too vigorous a challenge and received a yellow card. Rufus made a good clearance. Andy Hunt then broke through, but the ball was taken off him.
The Vale opening goal came when the ball was laid off by Rougier who turned Rufus. Viljanen then had a clear shot on goal from 25 yards out and made no mistake, Kiely moving to his right but failing to make contact with the ball. Charlton never really looked like scoring an equaliser before the break and the only other event of note was a yellow card for Barness. Brian Cole came up to me during the break and commented, 'You can write a very short report on that performance and it's a four letter word.
The start of the second half saw no improvement in Charlton's standard of play. Robbo put in a good ball to Stuart, but it was wasted. The more physical aspects of Vale's play received their just reward with a yellow card for Snijders. Shortly afterwards Burton received a yellow card for a foul on Kinsella. With no apparent improvement from Charlton, shouts of 'Pringle' began to be heard from the faithful. On 60 minutes a double substitution was made with Barness coming off for Tiler and Parker replacing Robbo. The change seemed to lift the side. Good work by Newts then produced Charlton's first corner. Vale then nearly made it 2-0 when Viljanen broke through, but Kiely came out strongly and distracted him leading him to put the ball over the bar. Following a second Charlton corner, Parker put in a shot that was not far wide. Two Charlton corners in succession followed and from the second one Rufus scored, the ball hitting the underside of the bar. Vale then made good use of a free kick out to the right to put in a cross which enabled Burton to make it 2-1.
Going behind for the second time produced a new sense of urgency to Charlton's play. Another Charlton corner produced a tame header fro m Hunt and then Kitson shot at the keeper. Another corner gave Hunt the chance to head the ball into the back of the net. The best chance to make it 3-2 to the Addicks came when Kinsella shot just wide from what was admittedly a very difficult angle. Another Charlton corner produced a chance, but Steve Brown sent the shot well over. Good work by Chris Powell then produced another Charlton corner, but to no effect. Svensson had come on on 82 minutes and had a claim for a penalty, although the referee was probably right not to award it. A point was thus salvaged, but this was one occasion when shouts of 'You're better than this Charlton' from the crowd had some force. As I drove out past the teapot factory, I reflected that it might be the last time I saw it. However, one would not think that one had been watching two teams who are likely to be two divisions apart next year.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Richard Rufus . Rufus not only added to his impressive goal scoring tally, but was also stalwart in defence. Deano could not have stopped the first goal and it was difficult to work out from the other end of the pitch whether he was at fault from the second. His dash to thwart Viljanen brought applause from the Finn. Greg Shields is out to the end of the season and we have to accept that Barness is filling his place. One could say that this performance just about met a minimal standard of competence. Chris Powell had another good game, making a number of penetrating runs through the Vale defence. Steve Brown nearly played Deano into trouble with a poor back pass and had one bad mishit, but in general his performance was as dependable as one would expect. After a good game against Rangers, the up and down Stuart had a poor game, mishitting the ball in quite spectacular fashion on occasions. Robbo looked a little jaded and was eventually substituted. Newts came into the game more as it went on, his hesitant start contributing to Charlton's poor performance in the first half. In the second half, he started to use his pace more to penetrate the Vale defence. Kinsella made some good defensive interventions, fed the ball forward well and put in some better than usual corner kicks. Whatever was wrong with Charlton's performance it wasn't down to him. Hunt seemed rather subdued for much of the mach, but you can't fault his goal scoring record. Kitson put himself about, but only looked liked scoring once, only to be denied by the keeper. Tiler did a capable job when he came on. Parker came close to scoring and it was good to see him being given a chance again, although he still has to prove himself. Svensson is public enemy number one with some sections of the crowd, in part because of his Palace connections and it must be admitted that one of his few contributions was to turn a promising attacking opportunity into a Vale throw in.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given a muted Hiss of the Match to referee Bill Jordan who suffered from the usual eyesight problems. Indeed, he comes from the favourite Earth base of all methane breathing referees, Planet Tring. Perhaps he should concentrate on improving his golf handicap.
This was the verdict of a Queen's Park Rangers fan and his Palace friend who joined our train at High Wycombe on the way home. They had watched the game on Sky: at the Valley we saw some superb football from Charlton, real championship class in fact. An excellent goal from Shaun Newton put the Addicks 1-0 ahead in the opening minutes of the game. Taylor pulled it back to 1-1 for the super hoops in the second half, but justice was done when Scott Parker scored his first senior goal for Charlton. Even the Bear (#1 station in South Warwickshire) paid tribute to Charlton as having 'one foot in the Premiership' in their morning newscast.
An early free kick for Rangers had to be cleared by Steve Brown. There was then an anxious moment when the player who will never let you down received treatment. Newts then made good use of a pass from Kinsella to put in an accurate shot. His first attempt was blocked, but his second volley scorched into the back of net. A few minutes later a fierce shot from Steve Brown went only just wide. On nine minutes Andy Hunt put a shot in but it was a relatively easy save for the keeper. The referee then gave Steve Brown a yellow card for a tackle from behind, although similar offences from the physical super hoops went unpunished.
On seventeen minutes good work by Chris Powell produced a chance for Robbo who put in a rather tame shot to the keeper. Good work by Newts produced a Charlton corner, followed by a second. The ball fell fortunately for Rangers who raced to the other end and produced a corner. It was initially cleared, but the ball was worked back in again, producing a good save from Deano.
Charlton did not seem to be able to work out that Harper was in the habit of playing the ball out to the unmarked Darlington. Graham Stuart won a corner for Charlton and then a good cross by Chris Powell led to another. Charlton continued to surge forward and Stuart put in a powerful shot that went just past the post. Hunt ran forward to connect with a Kinsella free kick, but just missed. Barness then put in a hopeful shot which went over. Ready was penalised by the referee for a foul on Robbo. The first half had seen Charlton repeatedly win back possession, some superb ball control and excellent passing, but no vital second goal.
The Super Hoops started the second half with a double substitution with Gavin Peacock and Taylor coming on. Five minutes into the half a shot from Newts went just wide of the post. Chris Powell had forged through the Rangers defence, but rather than having a go himself had laid off the ball to the less well placed Newton. A Rangers free kick produced a spell of trouble for Charlton, it taking some while to get the ball clear of the danger zone. Darlington received a yellow card for a foul on Robbo and then collapsed by the touchline, eventually having to be stretchered away. This forced QPR to bring on a forward as their third substitute.
Robbo put in what seemed to be a good ball to Svensson, but he may not have been expecting it and he headed straight at Harper. Robbo then managed to put a wild shot on to the Covered End roof. The referee, a graduate of leading Sunday leagues in Middlesbrough, was making increasingly bizarre decisions, generally in favour of the super hoops, no doubt having been told to try and even the game up to retain viewer interest. A blatant handball was ignored by the referee and the linesman and a throw in given instead. Stuart got booked for complaining.
There was a worrying moment just short of 70 minutes when the referee awarded a free kick in a dangerous position (quite what for remains a mystery). However, the resultant shot went sailing well over the top of Deano's crossbar. The much awaited substitution occurred with Kitson coming on for Svensson. Rangers were stepping up their game, combining a mixture of determination and skill with increasingly dirty play. They won a corner through a lucky deflection off Robbo. Rufus should then have put the ball out for a throw in: instead Rangers were able to win another corner. Play switched up the other end again and Kitson was in with a chance but there were simply too many bodies in the box.
Newts then went off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Tiler. Although this gave us more defensive height at the back, Newts always looked like the player most likely to unsettle the Rangers defence. Kiely then made the mistake of coming off his line, tried to punch the ball, failed to make any significant contact, Tiler was unable to intercept it and Taylor put it in the back of the net.
Kitson put the ball over the crossbar from a header to his evident disappointment. Curbs then made what turned out to be an inspired substitution, bringing on Parker in place of Barness. From a move starting from a quick throw in by Robbo, young Scott put in a shot which took a deflection off the inside of the post, but ended up in the back of the net. As in the cup game against Rangers, it was a younger Charlton player who had saved the day.
The referee was increasingly losing control of the match and there was a brawl among the players in front of the East Stand, Robbo clearly losing his cool after he had been kneed by Langley, but no one was booked. Before the first of two Rangers corners, there was another outbreak of trouble in the goalmouth, Kiwomya attempting to use his head on Deano, leading to Kiwomya and Chris Powell receiving yellow cards. The ref tried to add on as much time as he could, but the super hoops failed to equalise and the Addickted were able to salute the champions elect.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Shaun Newton not just for his opening goal which must be considered for goal of the season, but for an excellent all round performance. Gerry Francis had nominated him as an unsung hero of the Charlton side in Sport First , although he is not exactly unsung at The Valley and must be in the running for Player of the Year. Deano made another unfortunate mistake which cost a goal. Apart from that, he had just one save to make. We must keep the faith, but he should guard against being too incautious. Sometimes he needs to try and catch the ball rather than punching it out. Chris Powell had another superb game and at the very least deserves a runners up place in Player of the Year. Sport First highlighted the return of Steve Brown from injury and he was superb in defence and attack, coming close to scoring. Apart from one error, Rufus had another good game. Barness nearly played Deano into trouble with a back pass early in the game, but was generally reliable, although I still think he will have trouble holding on to the shirt when Shields returns from injury. Kinsella had another good game, in particular excelling at taking the ball away from Rangers in an often breathtaking fashion. I thought that Stuart had one of his best games this season, contributing in attack and defence. Robbo also played his part, although by his very high standards, this was perhaps not his best performance ever. Svensson continues to be target of criticism from the faithful, although he showed some very skilled touches, completely outwitting the Rangers defence on occasions. I thought that Hunt had something of an off day and never really came close to scoring. Kitson is clearly interested in coming to Charlton. I am impressed by what I have seen so far, but we need to see him play a whole game to make a final judgement. Tiler was on for too short a period to comment. Parker had a point to prove and he did it.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has no hesitation in giving the Hiss of the Match to useless referee Graham Frankland who, while he may be able to supply a full range of paper clips in his day job, does not know how to referee a derby. No wonder he dithered in the middle of the pitch at the end of the game, glancing nervously around.
That is what jubilant Addicks sang as a Paul Kitson strike on 82 minutes gave Charlton a 1-0 victory over Palarse at Selhurst Park. A sixty-five year record of Charlton failing to win as visitors at Selhurst thus came to a happy end. Indeed, Charlton had only picked up one point in their last seven visits.
A number of E mails on the Charlton list suggested that it was the duty of every supporter to be at Palarse. We are talking about a leisure activity, but I need to explain why I was not there. Last weekend I travelled to Manchester for the game there and on Wednesday I went to the home game against Grimsby, arriving home at 1 a.m. I also had to finish my paper for a conference in London next month, Beneath the Valley of the hyper globalists which opens with a quote from Curbs. One Saturday had to be set aside before the wedding in early May of Erith-born Sophia Grant to make final arrangements. My choice was to miss the Palarse game as I object to paying £20 to sit in a ground I loathe. BTW, Sophia is getting married the day before the last game of the season at the Hawthorns. Originally, the wedding was to be in July, but our youngest daughter is scheduled to produce a Junior Red around then.
Shaun Newton missed a great chance to score after being given a great ball by John Robinson in the first half of the South London derby at Selhurst Park. Consequently the teams went in 0-0 at half time. Charlton's game was not helped by the slippery surface. There had been heavy rain an hour before the start of the match and there was another downpour just after kick off. The goalmouth that the Addicks had to defend was in particularly poor condition.
Nine thousand Charlton fans crammed into the inadequate facilities to support their side, calling into question comments by pessimists on the list earlier in the day. A Palace attack after just two minutes saw a shot from Forssell palmed away by Deano. Newts cleared the resultant corner kick with a header. After six minutes pressure by Newts produced a corner for the Addicks, but the ball was collected by Fraser Digby in the Palace goal. In this early phase of the match, the game was played at a rapid tempo with end-to-end activity.
John Robinson put in the first Charlton shot after eleven minutes, but it was blocked by the keeper. The Addicks were, however, now starting to impose themselves on the game, particularly in midfield. Stuart was caught by Zhiyi just on the edge of the penalty area. Tiler did not make effective contact with Kinsella's free kick, in part because of a good challenge by the veteran Linighan.
Rufus then had a chance on 22 minutes. A Kinsella free kick was headed on by Svensson, but the ball was not an easy one and Rufus was just wide of the target. Newton then beat two defenders and put in a volley reminiscent of the one he scored from in the play off against Ipswich. Unfortunately on this occasion it went just past the post. Rufus was then fouled in the box, the ball going in the net and Palarse fans risibly calling for a penalty. Barness tried a volley from a Kinsella corner but it was blocked and Kinsella then shot wide. Robbo then beat Linighan and put in the ball to Newton who had the goal at his mercy. Newts had two chances to score, but the ball was blocked on the line. This escape gave new heart to Palace and they put one shot in from 25 yards over the top of Deano's goal, followed by a volley just wide of the left-hand post.
The pitch still had hail on it at the re-start and the opening period was scrappy. A Rufus foul gave Palace a free kick ten to fifteen yards from the edge of the Charlton penalty area. First, the ball was headed away by Andy Hunt and after bobbling all over the place was then apparently kicked away by Chris Powell on the near post, although the referee gave a goal kick rather than a corner.
Charlton pressure then led to a series of chances. Svensson's back heel across the front of goal confused even his own players. Hunt got hold of the ball, but sent it wide. Good work by Barness then broke up a Palace attack. A good Charlton build up led to an incident in which Stuart was brought down in the area, leading to calls for a penalty. Kinsella got hold of the ball and had a chance but sent his shot wide. Palace were tending to over commit themselves, but Charlton were having difficulty making use of their chances. Barness and Newton managed to get mixed up. The ball flashed across the front of goal, but no one was able to connect with it. There was a good run by Chris Powell, but he was wrestled to the ground by Zhiyi in a demonstration of what 'sweet and sour pork, Hong Kong style' really meant.
Palace brought on one attacking midfielder for another replacing the Australian leftover Thomson by Craig Foster. Digby saved from Kinsella. He required his right knee strapping up and, with the youthful reserve goalkeeper apparently not trusted by the Palace bench, he was forced to kick the ball out with his left foot from then on. With the game entering the last thirty minutes, Charlton surged forward again and again, exerting constant pressure on the Glaziers. A free kick led to a corner conceded by Linaghan, but Digby was able to punch the ball out. Palace enjoyed a rare surge forward, but Robbo led the counter attack. A good tackle by Tiler stopped another Palace attack. Powell put a good cross in on 73 minutes, but it was cleared.
With fifteen minutes and everything left to play for, Curbs made a double substitution. Hunt went off for Kitson and Salako replaced Newts. Great defending by Rufus dealt with an attack by Mullins at the expense of a corner. This took a time to clear, but then Charlton were up the other end again but Robbo's shot was well blocked by the resolute Linaghan who seemed not to be showing his 37 years. A foul by Tiler led to a Palace free kick, but it was Tiler who cleared the danger by heading the ball away.
A great run by Chris Powell then put the ball into Kitson at the far post who do not hesitate to deliver it into the back of the net. Tiler was then called into action once again to head the ball clear. Palace decided to draw on the strength in depth of their squad by bringing on Martin for Wayne Cralisle, while Charlton replaced Robbo with Paul Konchesky. Meanwhile, the Addickted gave a spirited rendition of Valley Floyd Road followed by 'Palace are going nowhere'. Stuart won the ball well and gave it to Salako but Linaghan got the better of him. Kitson then turned provider for Svensson whose downward header was just collected by Digby. With the game heading into injury time, Stuart broke up a Palace attack and then Tiler cleared once again. Another three points for the champions and a very satisfying victory over the loathed Palarse. Quite what the watching millions in China made up of it remains a mystery, although the pace of the action for much of the game will have left them little time to read the special advertising hoardings in Mandarin.
Visiting match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound has awarded the Silver Bone to Mark Kinsella for his efforts in attack and defence.
Juneau the Soccer Cat gives her Hiss of the Match to the pitch which shows the scars of landlord and tenant (although it is quite difficult to work out which is which at Palarse).
Rugby Road, near Deano's old school
Leamington, base of, Mid-Warwickshire Boys League
where Deano played for Leamington Hibernians