Forthe latest reports including Stockport please go toVolume 9. For a well illustrated report on the Coventry cup win please go to Volume 8.
That was the reaction of an incredulous Steve from Sidcup as Charlton went down 0-1 at home to promotion rivals Manchester City. Their first home defeat of the season saw Charlton fall back to third place in the table after Huddersfield won at home. Charlton failed to convert first half dominance into a lead and City scored just after half time. After that Charlton made valiant but unsuccessful efforts to at least even the score with Pringle missing the best chance of the game.Their cause was not helped by the inept refereeing of Roger Furnandiz. Not only did he appear to have had a surfeit of Yorkshire puddings, he was also a candidate for the Specsavers Short Sighted Referee of the Year award. Aided by the East Stand linesman, who had evidently forgot to put in his contact lenses, he managed to miss one brutal intervention after another by the City players who had clearly decided to batter Charlton's best players out of contention. He was very reluctant to book anyone, one wag suggesting that perhaps he had difficulty writing down names. He was a great fan of the advantage rule, which is all right in some ways, but not if it means ignoring blatant fouls.
Perhaps we should have guessed what was in store for us when chanting City fans took over the Rose of Denmark. But, compared with his pessimism before the Walsall game, Robin was in an optimistic frame of mind, so we hoped for the best.
Charlton started brightly enough with the opening portion of the game being played mainly in the City half. Hunt put in a drive just past the post after three minutes. On eleven minutes, Robbo burst through but shot straight at the keeper. Mendonca was then brought down by City and had to wait some time before play was stopped before he could receive treatment. Hunt had been subjected to a series of choke holds and at last the referee awarded a free kick. Charlton got their first corner on twenty minutes, but the ball was blasted over the net. A free kick two minutes later was caught comfortably by Weaver in the City goal. Just after thirty minutes a free kick on the edge of the area saw Brown put a shot in which was diverted for a corner. A minute later Kiely was called into action to make a diving save as the ball was driven towards the net. A beautiful turn by Mendonca set up a chance for Robbo but the ball curled over. A Charlton corner ended up with a player from each side on the ground, Rufus fortunately making a quick recovery. City stepped up the pressure in the dying minutes of the half with two corners.
Steve Dixon having used the device of repetition to make sure we knew that Charlton Station was closed next Saturday, City started the half brightly. Kiely made a great save from a fierce shot. City then won a corner which was not cleared by Charlton and making use of an assist from Pollock Goater was able to use his head put the ball past Kiely, even though the keeper got a hand to it. Charlton's play seemed less fluent after this blow, although they won a couple of corners. City pulled off the jet lagged Tiatto and brought on Terry Cooke. Pringle's name was being chanted by the Addickted and he was brought on shortly after the half hour, replacing the lacklustre Shields. A free kick when Rufus was brought down on the edge of the area brought momentary hope. Then Kinsella hit the crossbar with a fierce drive and the rebounding ball gave Pringle a chance for a tap in, but instead he blazed it over. Jones put a good ball in, but Powell put it over. After the charming Kevin Horlock had a go at Robbo, the referee actually produced his yellow card, although he booked Robbo as well. Charlton kept surging forward, win a free kick for a blatant handball. An injury time corner brought a ray of hope, Hunt putting in a header which lacked enough power to elude Weaver, but this was a day when the ball was not going in the back of the net for the Addicks. It was also unpleasantly reminiscent of the series of 0-1 defeats at home by Premiership clubs last season.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Steve Brown. As always the Brighton Battler gave his all, making some important blocks, but also coming close to scoring. Kiely made some worrying rushes from out of his goal, leaving it completely exposed to a City attack at one point, Rufus fortunately being on hand to tidy things up. Rufus was good defensively, but his attacking moves were disappointing. Powell had another good game, moving forward with his usual fluidity. The major disappointment in the defence was Shields who had the worst game I have seen since he signed for Charlton. Keith Jones received the usual criticism from many supporters, but all his passes were spot on. Presumably Stuart was withdrawn because he was injured, although he was not in it much in the first half, apart from once when he dispossesed a City player. Kinsella gave his usual excellent performance. He looked the player most likely to set up a goal, if not to score one. Robinson had a tremendous work rate, although his two attempts on goal were disappointing. Hunt showed real skill and ball control throughout the game, but, apart from the opening and closing minutes, never came close to scoring. Mendonca was battered throughout the game, being brought down twice, and had few opportunities to show his skill. Salako had the most disappointing game I have seen since he signed, often not being in position for balls passed to him. Pringle was once again a huge disappointment.
Juneau the Soccer Cat was spoilt for choice in deciding who should receive the Hiss of the Match. City keeper Weaver was in contention for his arrogant time wasting, but in the end she decided that the refree had revealed unknown depths of ineptitude.
Critics of Alan Curbishley and of the current Charlton side were given further ammunition when the Addicks failed to score six goals at Blundell Park, winning by a mere 5-2 against the Cleethorpes club. The failure of Richard Rufus to beat his marker to score a hat trick must also raise serious questions. Enough irony for the moaners. The crowd of 6,849 were given a football exhibition by the Addicks who looked strong in front, in midfield and in defence. The first Friday night game for fifteen years turned out not to be fortunate for the Mariners who were simply outclassed.
The Mariners became another club to be taught the three R's as Charlton went 2-1 ahead at half time against Grimsby through two goals from central defender and third ranking goal scorer Richard Raymond Rufus. Earlier rain had made conditions slippery and it rained intermittently throughout the half. Returning to Blundell Park after three seasons, Clive Mendonca got a friendly welcome from most of the home fans.
Charlton made an early impression on the game with a free kick for a foul on Mendonca bringing an audible chant of 'Super Clive' from the Addickted. Charlton won their first corner after four minutes and Mendonca put a shot in after seven minutes. Powell was active, if only for a series of thrown ins. After thirteen minutes, Groves appeared in the Charlton box, but was not able to control the ball which rolled through to Sasa Ilic.
A minute afterwards a good cross led to another Charlton corner. The ball was not cleared and Rufus was provided with a free header to put the Addicks ahead. Mendonca followed up quickly with a shot and then Rufus defended against a Town attack. The home crowd began to turn on their team with anti-Buckley shouts being heard. After eighteen minutes the Mariners had a corner, leading to a Smith header which Ilic was able to save well to his left. A free kick awarded produced a booking against Youds for a foul on Lester. Ilic looked at risk with a weak kick, but then safely collected a ball from Butterfield. Then another Grimsby attack led to Smith being brought down in the box and a penalty was awarded. Ashcroft sent Ilic the wrong way to level the score. Mendonca put the ball in the net, but was offside. Keith Jones got through the Town defence and should have played the ball himself rather than passing to Mendonca. A challenge by Rufus on Lester gave the Mariners a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, but it went out for a goal kick. A foul on Jones led to a free kick taken by Kinsella and the ball was dispatched inside the post by Rufus. Grimsby's Richard Smith had to be stretchered off with an injury and Lambeth born journeyman Wayne Burnett, who has travelled round many clubs, came on in his place. The attending Addickted were in good voice. Hunt put in a good ball to Mendonca but Robinson passed to nobody. A late attack by Grimsby posed no real problems.
Charlton experienced a setback immediately after the re-start when Donovan equalised for Grimsby. A Kinsella free kick from thirty yards went wide and Robinson just failed to connect with a Hunt cross. Another Hunt cross was half cleared. Rufus on the attack was fouled ten yards outside the box and then hit the post. A corner on fourteen minutes saw Rufus beaten by his marker, Lever, who sent the ball over the bar. With the rain pouring down a late coachload of Addicks arrived. There was much excitement left for them to see.
A Kinsella free kick was punched out by Coyne in the Grimsby goal. It went back to Kinsella and then Robinson put it just over the top. Charlton won a corner, Youds caused the Mariners defence a lot of problems and Mendonca put Charlton 3-2 ahead. Robinson was booked for a foul when he missed the ball without intent on the slippery surface. Powell put in a good ball, Super Clive got in behind Groves, held the ball up and put it in to the in form Hunt who made it 4-2. Lester put in a good shot for Grimsby and then a Donovan cross was read well by Youds. Ian Hamilton came off to be replaced by former Addick Bradley Allen.
A cross from Butterfield was well read by Ilic. A cross by Stuart was directed towards Mendonca but Lever headed it away for a corner. Robbo put in a cross, but Mendonca didn't connect. A great drive was put in Powell, it may have come off Hunt, but he didn't know anything about it and the fifth Charlton goal was put down to Groves. An own goal it may have been, but it was created by the impressive Powell. Kinsella put in a ball to Hunt and his header was deflected for another Charlton corner. A resultant Youds header was cleared off the line and then a shot from Stuart was cleared off the line, denying Charlton their sixth goal. A shot from Robinson was saved by Coyne. Kinsella, who taken a knock, was replaced by Salako. Butterfield shot into the side netting for Grimsby. Youds was taken off for Brown. Salako put in a shot, but it was too high. The Addicks were playing possession football now. A Grimsby player was booked for a foul on Stuart and then Burnett was booked for an incident noticed by the referee. Grismby were allowed to take a free kick ten yards from the area twice, but made nothing of it. The Addicks were one point behind Manchester City and had levelled their goal difference with the leaders.
The match greatly excited visiting match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound who has awarded the Silver Bone to Richard Rufus, but with special commemorative silver biscuits for Eddie Youds , Chris Powell , Mark Kinsella , Clive Mendonca and Andy Hunt.
It took a superb strike from Graham Stuart and a great save from Dean Kiely to secure the Addicks all three points in a 2-1 victory over Walsall. The Midland motorway club nearly unsaddled the Addicks when they went 1-0 ahead, but Andy Hunt equalised before the break and Charlton finally did enough in a scrappy encounter to maintain their second place in the table. For the Bloke Behind Me, it was the match of the season as he was able to moan non-stop throughout the match, finally calling for Curbs's immediate resignation.
To reach this disappointing encounter, I had to leave Dundee at the crack of dawn. The previous day I had asked to see the two Dundee grounds. Although I knew they were close, I didn't realise that they were on the same street with the opposing stands effectively overlapping. From Luton Airport, I made good time to the Rose of Denmark where there was a large turnout of listers, including a first time visit from Kevin Portch. But Robin was in a gloomy mood, correctly forecasting that we were in for a painful afternoon.
I might as well have used Brian Cole's 'total recall' method in the first half, as I have a thin set of notes, reflecting the lack of positive action. The crowd was very subdued, perhaps anticipating what lay ahead. Apart from an early Shields run, the first piece of action was a Walsall corner nearly fifteen minutes into the game. A few minutes later a curling shot from Robbo just missed the target. It was past the half hour mark before Charlton got their first corner, such was their lack of penetration. On 35 minutes, a good shot from Walsall produced a corner and in the resulting confusion a free kick was awarded against Keith Jones for obstruction. One of Walsall's household names (at least he is a household name in Hungary) seized the opportunity and made use of a short free kick to drive a low shot into the left hand side of the net, leaving the Charlton players arguing among themselves about what had gone wrong. A few minutes later Pringle put the ball just over the bar. Then, after a powerful shot from Stuart, making use of a rare useful pass by Pringle, had been pushed out by the Walsall keeper, Hunt made use of the rebound to deliver a formidable scissors kick and put the ball in the net just before half time.
Everyone was waiting to see the effect of Curbs's halftime chat, but Walsall seemed to be in control again. The referee, who was a replacement for the one advertised, decided to make a name for himself and relieve the tedium of living in Long Buckby. A few minutes after the start, Keith Jones found himself receiving a yellow card for colliding with Pointon, the referee taking the opportunity to point out the location of the tunnel. Hunt (handball) and Kinsella were later to join the referee's collection, although he absent mindedly booked a Walsall player in the 90th minute.
The Addicks seemed incapable of stamping their authority on the game and it was no surprise when the lacklustre Pringle was taken on 66 minutes, although perhaps more surprising that he was replaced by Salako. Good work by Greg Shields set up an attack on the Saddlers goal and the ball came back out to Stuart on 20 yards who took his time to deliver a devastating strike into the top corner of the Walsall net. The off form Keith Jones was replaced by McCammon on 75 minutes, but the lumbering movements of the man mountain did little to improve the sharpness of the Charlton attack. Indeed, Steve Brown had to come on to shore up the defence in place of Andy Hunt. Time and time again, the Saddlers seemed able to gallop away from Charlton and when a shot from Larusson took a deflection, Kiely seemed to change direction mid-leap to palm the ball away. It was one of the best saves I have seen at The Valley since Petterson's (yes Petterson) Mexican save against Crystal Palace. Thus Charlton secured the three points, but the 'Curbs Must Go' movement signed up a few new recruits as supporters reflected on the club's dire position: in second place, with only two points gained over Manchester City, and only two games in hand over them. It was a poor performance, but I am sure that the Addicks can raise their game against better opposition.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has decided to award the coveted Silver Bone to Graham Stuart for a great strike of considerable power and impressive accuracy that effectively won the match for Charlton. But Dean Kiely prevented the points being shared with an outstanding save and seemed more up for it than most of the squad. Richard Rufus had another good game, as did Eddie Youds , both of them playing key roles in shutting down the Saddlers' cavalry as they rode into view. The master having travelled from north of the border, it was good to see an excellent performance from Greg Shields who made some superb penetrating runs. Chris Powell made a few good runs forward and some effective defensive interventions, but was not in evidence as much as he sometimes is. Keith Jones had a poor game, lacking his usual accuracy in passing. Kinsella was once again one of the best players on the pitch, unfairly receiving his fourth booking of the season. Robinson made some good penetrating runs down the wing, but was inclined to drift too much into the centre. Andy Hunt scored an excellent goal, although the Bloke Behind Me denounced him as useless at both ends of the pitch while calling up the ghost of Steve Jones. Pringle had a very poor match, demonstrating that we need another striker soon, given that Sir Clive's back trouble seems to be back with a vengeance. Salako added some real class when he came on, showing much greater pace and accuracy than most of the Charlton players. McCammon looked like a Conference player who had unwittingly stumbled into a match between two poor 3rd division sides but was nevertheless unable to lift his standard. Brown was not on long enough to allow any fair comments to be made.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given her Hiss of the Match to Walsall's Pedro Matias, a nasty piece of work who was roundly booed when he was substituted.
Making good use of one of their games in hand, first half goals from Stuart and Pringle gave the Addicks a convincing 2-0 win over Crewe at Gresty Road, allowing them to reclaim second place in the table. The Addicks were at their best in the first half, but good defensive work maintained their clean sheet after the break.
We had set out on what we thought was a train for Crewe, but it turned out that the Crewe train was delayed, so when we got to Birmingham the train set off again for London and we had to detrain at Birmingham International. The famous pre-war song says 'I wanted to go to Birmingham and ended up in Crewe' but for us it was the opposite story. We arrived at the ground twenty minutes later to be told by the stewards that we were already 1-0 up through a Stuart goal, the ball having been squared for him by Pringle who was replacing the injured Mendonca.
The last time we were at Crewe we were in the stand behind the goal at the Gresty Road end and Danny Mills scored after a few minutes on his first outing for the Addicks. Now Crewe have the Railtrack stand alongside one side of the pitch. Opposite is the space now allocated to away fans which was well filled with Addicks in good voice. Charlton's yellow shirts stood out well against the floodlights and as we arrived it was clear that they were very much in control of the game.
As we arrived, Pringle took a clattering and required treatment. Shortly afterwards Kiely had to back pedal to pick up the ball and then a Crewe long range effort went just wide of the post. On the half hour Pringle put the ball in the net with a great header and an animated Mark Kinsella came over to the Charlton side to share his joy with the fans. Crewe tried to get back into it and the ball flashed across the face of the Charlton goal. Robbo was brought down by a blow to the face by Bignot and was left dazed for the rest of the half. On 42 minutes Crewe had a break and the ball shot across the front of the Charlton goal. The view of the Charlton fans, however, was summed up by renditions of 'You're going down with the Palace'. It was good to have a chance to chat with the Stoke Addick at half time.
On the re-start the referee gave a very generous free kick to the Addicks which had Steve Brown and his opposite number sharing a joke for some time afterwards. Hunt laid on a chance for Stuart and then Kinsella delivered a low and forceful drive which had Crewe's Australian keeper looking for the way back down under. There was a worrying moment with a Crewe free kick on the edge of the box, but it bounced off the two man Charlton wall. With Robbo down injured again at the other end of the pitch, Charlton conceded a corner. There was one of the most amazing goalmouth scrambles I have ever seen in the six yard box which was full of yellow shirts. Somehow the ball didn't go in and eventually the referee blew up for a foul. It was clear that the Railwaymen had been shown the green signal at the break for the Addicks soon conceded another corner. On around twenty-five minutes Little put in a header which drew a great save from Kiely who tipped the ball over the bar. This was a decisive moment in the match. Pringle just missed connecting with a great ball put in by Shields who was being watched by Craig Brown's deputy. The battered Robinson was replaced by Newton and Salako came on in place of Pringle. We had to leave to get the 9.30 to Birmingham, seeing Pringle blaze over just as we did so.
The train dropped off Addicks at Stafford and Wolverhampton and was then joined at Birmingham International by a huge crowd of teeny boppers from the NEC. But nothing could spoil my pleasure at a satisfying away win. I was surprised to read some negative comment on the list as, with Kinsella back, Charlton looked much more comfortable in the midfield and were generally in command of the match, even if they sensibly decided to play to an amber signal in the second half.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Dean Kiely. Kiely played with composure and authority throughout the match and made one vital save. A close rival was Eddie Youds With his effective organisation of the central defence, the absence of the suspended Richard Rufus was not missed in the way it might have been. Chris Powell was less prominent than in some games, but Greg Shields put in a couple of great balls to the strikers which they should have made more of. Steve Brown was his usual dependable self. The much maligned Keith Jones was always snapping at the heels of the railwaymen, saw a lot of the ball and made his usual accurate passes. Only once did he play the ball backwards when it might have gone forwards. Kinsella made his presence felt at the heart of the midfield with his usual high work rate and anticipation of the ball, although the Stoke Addick thought he was still affected by his injury. Stuart generally played wide on the right and was effective in this role, apart from scoring. Robinson had good penetration down the wings and linked up well with Hunt, but faded in the second half as the two knocks he picked up took their toll. Hunt apparently missed a chance to score in the 9th minute by delaying his shot, but he showed excellent ball control and put in the cross for Pringle's goal. Pringle was too inaccurate in front of goal for my liking and on more than one occasion tried unsuccessfully to hang on to the ball himself when he should have passed it to better placed players. The squad still needs another striker. It was a surprise when Newton came on as a substitute and used his pace quite effectively. Not enough was seen of Salako to give an opinion. Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Crewe's appropriately named Bignot who managed to fell Robbo with a blow to the face, escaping any penalty as the linesman was searching for his contact lenses.
After dominating the early period of the game, the Addicks went 1-0 behind after a Birmingham corner on 26 minutes at St.Andrews on the last Saturday of October. This was the final scoreline with Charlton losing for the third time to a promotion rival.
The start of the game was all Charlton, with Kiely, Youds and Rufus keeping things under control at the back. Hunt and Salako were prominent in the early action with Hunt putting a header across the face of the goal. On fifteen minutes Mendonca put in a shot from just outside the box. It looked as if Bennett had made a save, but the Addicks were denied the corner. Four minutes a later a header from Mendonca over the bar after an assist from Jones prompted a chant of 'Super Clive' from the visiting faithful. Youds was involved in an off the ball incident with Holdsworth.
The fateful Birmingham corner came after a build up in which Shields was beaten. Rowett delivered the ball to Bryan Hughes who put it in at the near post. After going ahead the Blues were in the game much more and won a succession of corners. The first of these, two minutes after the goal, was headed out by Hunt, but not cleared and it was Jones who got the ball. Three minutes later Kiely made a good save from Rowett after Birmingham had found space. Curbs had by now come down out of the stand. Kiely made a good save from Rea on 43 minutes and was then obliged to make a double stop at the expense of another corner.
The second half started quietly in pouring rain, Gill replacing the injured McCarthy for Birmingham. A Holdsworth tackle on Hunt should have got him a yellow card, but for the second time in the match the referee took no action, as he had done when Holdsworth had fouled Stuart in the first half. A Rufus tackle on Marcello denied the Birmingham striker as he bore down on goal. Charlton then had a bright patch. Hunt got past two players and put on a shot which required a first class stop by Bennett. Charlton won a corner, but then Youds had to head over the goal to deny the Blues at the other end. Nevertheless, Charlton continued to apply pressure. Around twenty minutes Salako was withdrawn for Brown, a substitution that will no doubt provoke debate on the list. Rea was looking dangerous for Birmingham and Youds denied him on 60 minutes with a great tackle when he was through on goal. Both players went down and Mendonca got booked for dissent. For reasons that puzzled those at the match, the referee then gave an indirect free kick from the by-line level with the beginning of the six yard box.
With quarter of an hour to go Powell left the pitch for Pringle. Charlton had to face another couple of Birmingham corners, but managed a break from the second one, Holland challenging Pringle to produce a rare corner for the Addicks. Jones was replaced by Parker, while Adebola came on in place of Rae. With what was probably the best chance of the half for Charlton, Pringle put the ball over the bar. The yellow shirts streamed forward again, but a Pringle cross was headed away. Rufus, who had put his life at risk by going into the crowd to retrieve the ball a few minutes before in, challenged Holland after the whistle had blown. A scuffle ensued and Rufus got another yellow card to add to his club record collection. By now it was effectively all over. Not a disgrace for a Charlton, but a setback. Would things have been different if Kinsella had been fit.
Juneau the Soccer Cat slept through the match, so Pisces the Pudding Cat has seized his chance and given Dean Holdsworth the Hiss of the Match.