Forest and subsequent reports will appear here Volume 8.
What better way to end the century? Four football matches in three days, all of them victories for teams I support. First Charlton defeated Palarse 2-1; then Rushden and Diamonds went top of the Conference by beating Stevenage by a similar margin; the next day we went up to Huddersfield to see the Addicks win 2-1 in a top of the table clash. Enthused by the win at the McAlpine, we went on to Rotherham where we joined a strong contingent of Seagulls as Brighton beat the Millers, second in Division 3, by a convincing margin of 3-1.
Having left Leamington at the relatively late hour of 7.15 a.m. (when compared with the 4.15 departure of the first Addicks coach from Ashford), we joined the West Sussex branch contingent in Brian Cole's people mover at Watford Gap. We were able to enjoy a few words with well-known lister Neal Target.
On arrival at the McAlpine, I decided to buy one of the special souvenir programmes. Thinking that the 'gold' version might be a collector's item, I asked for one, only to be told 'I've got nowt, you daft booger. If you want t'gold, you'll have to go to t' club shop.' As it turned out, the gold version was the same as the silver one except for having a different cover, and a steward told us that the usual blue programme actually cost more to produce. So Town managed to extract quite a bit of money from us, apart from the substantial entrance fee.
But it was all worth it. Charlton put Bruddersfield under early pressure. Much of the opening minutes were played in the opposing half, with Robbo nearly scoring. Charlton won their first corner on nine minutes and a couple of minutes later a good cross from Newton allowed Andy Hunt to put in a header which went just past the post. Within another couple of minutes, Newts's pace had forced a corner, followed immediately by a second. However, as is usually the case, this was not a day when Charlton were going to get anything from setpieces. Their corners all too often ended up in the arms of the Town keeper.
The next attack came from Hunt winning the ball in midfield and surging forward to force another corner. Hunt then put in a shot which went well wide. On twenty minutes injury hit Town made their first substitution, Kevin Gray coming on for Johnson. Charlton continued to pile on the pressure with a good build up leading to a shot by Pringle that was just over. Charlton then enjoyed another corner. Finally on 28 minutes they got their deserved reward with a well taken goal by Hunt, making use of a ball fed through by Robbo. A few minutes later Huddersfield sent their fans into a frenzy of excitement with their first corner. Robbo then put in a ball which flashed across the goal and almost allowed Shaun Newton to convert. Another Huddersfield corner just after the half hour aroused new excitement among the Yorkshire contingent, but their hopes were soon dashed when Robbo put in a screamer of a shot from 34 yards which went into the top corner of the net. There was considerable concern when Rufus and Kinsella collided with each other and both players required treatment. Then, four minutes into added on time, Eddie Youds fell awkwardly, injured his knee and had to be stretchered off the pitch.
During half time news filtered through to the crowd that the television commentary was suggesting that Charlton were denied a clear penalty on fourteen minutes for a trip on Newton. The Addicks came out again with Brown and Todd on in place of Kinsella and Youds. Charlton were far less dominant in the second half with Town coming back into the game much more. Robbo won a corner on 52 minutes, but the first half chance for the Addicks was on 65 minutes when Keith Jones put a shot over the bar. Deano made a great save on 71 minutes and followed it with another one five minutes later following a Huddersfield corner. Newton was pulled off for Salako, a move that puzzled most of the Addicks, given that it used up their third substitution and there was no apparent evidence that Newton had taken a knock or was tiring. Shortly afterwards Andy Hunt had a great chance to put the game beyond dispute when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper but he is never at his best in such situations and fluffed his chance. Then the inevitable happened. Huddersfield won a free kick between the corner flag and the goal and some yards in front of the goal line. The free kick was directed on to the head of Marcus Stewart who scored. The rest of the game was then an anxious time for the Addicks who attended. In the words of Sussex coaster Brian Cole, 'they made us sweat.' The addition of six minutes time added on made things even worse, particularly when Huddersfield won a corner in the 92nd minute. But the Addicks held out to win another 2-1 victory and go joint second in the table with Huddersfield.
We then sped away in the strategically placed people mover, noting Steve Dixon looking lost (perhaps in more ways than one). Thanks to some good navigating by Vern we arrived at Millmoor which is located next to a large scrapyard and plunged down a typical northern alley to find the away end. We were in time to see Brighton score their first goal. Their second came from a well worked free kick and we able to enjoy their third, based on a corner, as we left. Brighton played their hearts out and the atmosphere was in many ways better than at Huddersfield with the assembled Seagulls producing one chant after another from 'We are Brighton, super Brighton, from the south to 'Sussex by the Sea'. The assembled company agreed that the big difference between the two matches and the two divisions that separated them was the quality of the defending, the main tactic in the lower division being to boot the ball with some force but little direction upfield.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to John Robinson. His goal was the goal of the season so far and he also contributed in many other ways throughout the match. Dean Kiely did not have that much to do as many of the Town 'attacks' went hopelessly wide, but he made two good saves. Chris Powell was a model of reliability, but the general view was that the returning Greg Shields had a disappointing game in which he made a number of errors, not least failing to mark effectively for the Huddersfield goal. Rufus and Youds are so much the bedrock of the team that any injuries to them are a worry and Eddie Youds looked to be in a bad way. But Steve Brown proved once again to be a capable replacement. It was also worrying to see Kinsella pulled off at half time, but he seemed fine when he came to salute the crowd at the end of the match. Keith Jones once again worked away with energy and determination, tackling to good effort and passing well (apart from one error which might be seen to confirm the Cole thesis that the mistakes he does make are serious ones). Newton showed once again that he has returned to his old form. Andy Hunt made himself leading goal scorer but missed at least one good chance to add to his total. Pringle once again harried the opposition players very effectively, but had only one real scoring chance. Todd was an effective replacement for Kinsella, carrying out his task often unobtrusively but always effectively. This looks like another mark in favour of our 'tactically naive' manager. Salako was competent enough when he came on, but picked up an unnecessary yellow card for kicking the ball away.
Juneau the Soccer Cat did think of giving the Hiss of the Match to the Huddersfield jobsworth who came and had words with Keith Peacock for exercising the players not chosen for the team on the strip of grass behind the goal. However, she decided to award it to the whole crowd in the Kilner Bank Stand who kept howling about incidents that no one else saw, on one occasion influencing the generally fair referee to award a free kick in a potentially dangerous position.
Rushden and Diamonds took over the leadership of the Nationwide Conference after a thrilling 2-1 victory over Stevenage Borough at Nene Park. Both sides came to play attacking football and the game really flowed thanks in large part to the superb control of the referee, Mr J J Ross of Chingford who has been awarded a commemorative Silver Bone by Bob the Dog. The game was watched by a crowd of 5,721, a record for the Conference this season. Given the turnout, the chants of **** ground, no fans from the large and vociferous Borough contingent seemed singularly inappropriate. And the chants of 'Sheffield United' were hardly a blow to the faithful.
Diamonds opened their account on sixteen minutes. McElhatton put in an excellent ball to De Suza who burst down the right with tremendous pace and fed the ball to Darren Colins who slammed it into the back of the net. Rushden had another chance on 25 minutes when Collins should have laid the ball off to De Suza, but instead shot wide. Boro' continued to look threatening, particularly through Strouts on the left wing and Turley had to punch the ball out once to prevent an equaliser. Then just before the break De Suza was through on goal, but put the ball wide.
Boro' came storming out after the break and Tuttle had to put the ball over the bar on 51 minutes. From the resulting corner he made a great save at point blank range. Three minutes later McElhatton put in a powerful long range shot which was nearly spilled by Taylor in the Boro goal. But on 61 minutes Tuttle punched the ball out weakly, allowing former Diamonds striker Carl Alford to put the ball in the back of the net. Rushden fought back with skill and determination and on 79 minutes Underwood put in a cross to Brady which allowed the 'flu victim to dispatch a rare header into the back of the net. Boro' didn't give up and the Stevenage supporters aroused themselves to an even greater frenzy, leading to the dispatch of a posse of Northamptonshire's finest into their midst. In injury time Tuttle spilled the ball, nearly allowing Boro to equalise and perhaps lending some justification to the Stevenage shouts of 'dodgy keeper'. After the final whistle, it was announced that Kettering had beaten Nuneaton 1-0, producing an unheard of cheer for the Poppies from the Rushden supporters. A great match of high quality and well worth the forty minute wait to get out of the car park afterwards.
Charlton kicked off, but quickly lost possession to Palace. This proved to be a fatal error as Palace won a free kick near the West Stand touchline which they were careful to reposition to maximise their advantage. With keeper Dean Kiely no doubt troubled by the bright winter sun that had been bothering me on the drive down from Leamington, the ball eluded the Charlton defence and Andrew Martin found the back of the net with a header and his first ever goal for Palace just one minute into the match. It was typical of the moments of carelessness and lack of concentration that have cost Charlton dear this season.
The visitors from Thornton Heath continued to exert pressure, winning a corner after three minutes. The pace of the match was slowed somewhat by the fussy referee, who no doubt thought he was still in his day job of auditing accounts, and liked to call players over for a talking to when he detected that something was not in order. Then on twelve minutes Hunt got past two defenders and put in a ball that was parried by the keeper to be slotted into the back of the net by Salako who showed real joy as he saluted the East Stand crowd. Two minutes later the final score of the game was established when a cross from Brown was watched with vacant admiration by the Palarse defence, allowing Pringle to place the ball in the back of the net. Croydon's finest were, however, full of determination to win, the charming Fullarton trying to deal with Kinsella off the ball and receiving a yellow card for his pains.
The match then entered a rather subdued period, matched by the quietness of the crowd. None of the Charlton attacks seemed to have much force or penetration. On the half hour there was a worrying moment when Palace were given a free kick within shooting distance but the Charlton wall was intimidating and the shot went sailing over the bar. Pringle launched an attack on goal and then Jones put in a superb ball to Hunt, but the striker was offside. The decision that time was fair, but the decision to rule the next Charlton attack offside was more dubious. A nasty foul which felled Hunt then saw Dean Austin enter the referee's book, while Fan Zhiyi who had knackered himself through his foul play received a yellow as he limped off. He was replaced by No.24, sweet and sour prawns Hong Kong style, otherwise known as James Hibburt. Newton put in a good cross, but there was no one there to meet it. Pringle was then brought down with a tackle from behind which the referee regarded as perfectly fair, allowing Palace to launch an attack which saw the ball go just wide of the post.
Half time saw the Addick who had won £1 million on a Channel 4 game show on Friday being presented with a signed shirt on the pitch. One wag suggested that Steve Coppell might be approaching him for a sub, but he was probably busy asking the referee to come and audit Palace's books.
The impressive Shaun Newton had been using his pace in attack and defence throughout the match and early in the second half he created a corner for Charlton. Unfortunately, as with most Charlton corners, this did not come to much as Kinsella tends to drop the ball short of the near post. Newton then created another opportunity through his pace, putting in a good cross. The referee, having noticed that he had more yellow cards in one column that another, thus violating the first principle of double entry bookkeeping, booked Rufus for an innocuous tackle of which I had a clear view. Shaun Newton then had to make a one man intervention to stop a Palace run on goal which he did with great panache. As he returned to midfield, he acknowledged applause and shouts of 'Shaun' from the East Stand faithful.
A Charlton free kick after Pringle was brought down led to a Charlton corner which produced a goalmouth scramble. It seemed as if every member of the team was having a go at goal, but none of them could find the net. Another Newton run produced another corner, followed by a second, then it was a shot from Salako which yielded another corner for Charlton. Charlton were clearly the better side and were dominating the match, but could not find the back of the net.
Palace tried to raise their game by bringing another couple of nonentities on the pitch in the shape of Woozley and Rizzo. As Palace managed to slice a ball high into my section of the East Stand, it was a headed straight back by a spectator who received a round of applause and shouts of 'Put him on'. The Covered End had started a chant of 'There's only one Martin Pringle', and the lanky Swede had another great run on goal which produced a corner. There was a worrying moment when the otherwise short sighted linesman noticed that there had been a tangle in the box as we waited for the corner to be taken with a Palace player going down next to Steve Brown. Brown was summoned over. It seemed unlikely that it was to garner a few Do It Yourself tips from the work that the Brighton Battler has been doing at home, and there were fears that the referee might be about to display his favourite colour, red. However, he added to his collection of yellow cards.
Salako went off to great applause to be replaced by Robbo with bets being taken on how long it would be before he had his first argument with an official. Charlton kept up the pressure with Kinsella heading past the post. Martin was booked for having a go at Brown off the ball. As time added on approached, Keith Jones was pulled off, his stalwart efforts receiving a standing ovation from some fans, to be replaced by Todd. Palace had a series of throw ins on the East Stand side, and there were worries that they might secure a late equaliser. However, the referee eventually decided that the books were fairly balanced. A number of the players saluted the crowd, their mood being encapsulated by Powell and Kinsella embracing in front of the Covered End before they went down the tunnel.
Ace match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Martin Pringle. This was not just for his goal, but for his effort and skill throughout the game. He gave Hunt some excellent lay offs which his fellow striker was unfortunately unable to utilise to good effect. He also is prepared to pressurise the opposition keeper and other players. The Hunt-Pringle partnership looked more impressive than that between Hunt and Mendonca in the sense that they seemed to work better as a unit, although Hunt was not able to capitalise on his chances. Kiely came under some criticism in my section of the East Stand, but I am not convinced that the goal was his fault alone. Faced with a pallid Palace attack, his main task was to deal with balls from the opposition keeper. Apart from one incident where he got involved in a dangerous mix up with Kiely in front of goal which allowed Palace to launch a threatening attack, Powell was on good form. Brown gave his all as usual, and put in some useful passes which formed the starting point for attacks, although he may have been out of position for the Palace goal. Rufus made some decisive defensive intervention, some of them in a one on one situation. Youds was less prominent than in some matches, but always did what was required. Keith Jones drew the grudging comment from around me that he 'had a reasonable game by his standards.' In my view those standards are quite high with accurate passing but above all a series of fierce but perfectly fair tackles which dispossessed Palace players. I wouldn't like him snapping at my heels in a match. Newton had an excellent game and was a rival with Pringle for the Silver Bone. Kinsella was more subdued than usual and his corners were mostly beta minus. Leaving aside the goal, Salako had a good game, although he was fading by the time he was replaced. Please, can he take some of the corners instead of Kinsella? Robinson was not on long enough to make an impact, the same comment applying with even greater force to Todd.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to both linesmen for the usual combination of failing to understand the offside rule and attacks of blurred vision at crucial moments.
Just a reminder that Bob the Dog's demanding festive schedule continues tomorrow at Nene Park for Rushden and Diamonds versus Stevenage Borough and then at the McAlpine Stadium on Tuesday when geographical advantage may allow us to provide one of the earlier match reports.
It was like Wembley all over again on a smaller scale. The sense of deja vu was heightened by having a Sunderland supporter behind me (with some Blades) complaining about what happened to them at Wembley. Quite how they had infiltrated the West Terraces at Nene Park remains a mystery. In any event with the penalty shoot out in this 3rd round FA Cup replay at 5-5, Blades keeper Tracey saved from Brady who had put a freak goal past him at Bramall Lane. The odious keeper, who had been taunted with shouts of 'dodgy keeper' throughout the game then ran in front of the Rushden fans cupping his ear.
It was a great experience to be on the terraces again with a fine view from the front row. United gave Rushden an early scare when a powerful shot from Devlin was tipped against the crossbar and over by Tuttle. In general, however, the Diamonds contained the Blades with Warburton looking threatening for the home side down the left. Having successfully held the Blades, manager Brian Talbot then brought on De Sousa in the 65th minute to add extra menace up front. Meanwhile, United continued to add to their collection of yellow cards which eventually mounted up to four. With the game going into extra time, the Orpington based referee looked as if he was going to flake out. Then with a powerful Blades attack down the wing, Tuttle foolishly rushed off his line, the final touch being added by a Rushden defender racing to the rescue. Some of the Rushden players glared at Tuttle, thinking that he had lost the hard fought tie for them, but five minutes later Warburton equalised with a header, allowing the Rushden faithful to direct a chorus of 'You're not singing any more' at the Blades supporters. The Yorkshire contingent must have been mystified by the earlier chorus of 'If you hate Kettering, stand up'. Unfortunately, Rushden's effort and skill did not bring its reward, but they were certainly a match for United. Rushden can now concentrate on winning the Football League place their team, supporters and facilities merit.
The West Terraces at Rushden from which I watched the thrilling 3rd Round FA cup replay against Sheffield United.
A hard fought draw against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road confirmed the current strengths and weaknesses of the Addicks. They had most of the possession and much of the game was played out in the Rangers' half. However, they rarely looked threatening in front of goal and had only one shot on target throughout the game. The Addicks' cause was never helped by a referee and a linesman who drew a chorus of 'You're not fit to referee' from the faithful.
The match started as it was to go on, vigorous and tightly contested. QPR had a couple of early corners, but they did not cause the Addicks too many problems. On nine minutes Newton brilliantly took the ball off Bruce, enabling him to set up Salako for a long distance shot which went just wide. Charlton won a corner after eighteen minutes which was not fully cleared and led to a second. Then a couple of minutes later Shaun Newton had one of the best chances of the game when he was through on goal, but instead of taking a shot, he hesitated and the opportunity was gone, Plummer making a last-ditch tackle to save the day for West London's finest. Charlton kept up the pressure and won a couple more corners, the second produced by the impressive Scott Parker standing in for suspended captain Mark Kinsella. An incident just after the half hour saw Keith Jones spoken to by the referee, but Shaun Newton received a yellow card. One of the leading members of the Loftus Road School of Charm, Paul Murray, received a yellow. As the half time break approached, Charlton conceded a corner, but it was dealt with effectively.
Rangers came storming out for the second half, evidently having heard about Charlton's habit of conceding goals on 47 minutes. They won a free kick in a dangerous position on the dread 47 minutes, but the shot was collectively effectively by Kiely. Charlton won a corner five minutes into the half, but then a couple of minutes later Kiely had to make a good save. QPR then had a good break, but the attack was effectively stopped by Youds. Rangers kept up the pressure with three corners in succession. Minutes later Kiely was called in to action again to make a great save.
Twenty minutes into the game Salako was pulled off and replaced by Robbo who had been battling against the aftermath of 'flu throughout the week. Within moments of coming on, he gave the useless linesman some verbal for an offside decision. 24 minutes into the half a free kick for the Addicks hard by the South Africa Road stand led to another in a more dangerous position. The Rangers' wall was clearly not ten yards back, but the referee didn't seem very interested. An argument broke out in the wall which led to both Breacker and Hunt picking up a yellow card. The delay produced by the Rangers players had the desired effect and Parker's shot was collected by the keeper. Newton made a great run right down the pitch with Rangers players in pursuit and even if it didn't lead to anything, it deserved A for effort. There was then an off the ball incident in front of the South Africa Road stand which I didn't see, but the linesman on that side who had 20/20 vision unlike his opposite number flagged for the referee and they had a long chat. This turned out not be about special offers at Specsavers, as a flash of red was seen. For a moment there were fears that Rufus would be off, but it was Kiwomya who headed down the tunnel. Whenever the connoisseur of Japanese cuisine got the ball after that, he was booed by the Rangers supporters who had woken up in the second half. On 38 minutes Newton was pulled off for Pringle. On 48 minutes a shot flashed just past the post of the Rangers goal. I seems that Robbo was responsible: it was the nearest Charlton had come to scoring. However, no one could complain that a draw was an unfair outcome. With all the other teams in the race for promotion winning, the Addicks were overhauled by Ipswich who moved into third place.
I was left with a nasty feeling that we would be visiting West London again next year and not because QPR had been promoted with us. On the tube on the way back, a Manchester United fan praised our performance last year, but said we now needed a striker. On the train on the way back, we had the pleasure of a Palarse fan glaring at us. Three points against the favourite team of London's Colombian community are now essential if Charlton are to get their promotion push back on track.
Match analyst Bob the Dog favoured Scott Parker as the recipient of the Silver Bone, but trainee match analyst Hooch the Pooch who is sleeping over thought there was a case for Eddie Youds. However, the decision went to Parker who was committed, combative and made some excellent passes. Dean Kiely once again maintained the honour of Bishop Bright school with a commanding performance. Eddie Youds could once again be relied upon for the decisive intervention. Richard Rufus was again impressive and it was a worrying moment when he went down and required treatment. Chris Powell was there when he was needed, often moving the ball forward down the left. Greg Shields showed excellent pace on the ball and made one promising cross. Keith Jones made some good defensive interventions and some excellent passes which showed real ball skill. Why he is so unpopular remains a mystery. Salako was good in parts. His corners were competent without being really threatening. It seemed too easy sometimes to deny him the ball. Newton made good use of his pace, but needs to show more confidence in front of goal. The way he won the ball off Bruce was as good a piece of play as I have seen this season. Sadly, Mendonca never really looked as if he was going to do anything, although once again he was the target of some physical interventions. Hunt was determined and committed, but never really got into a scoring position. Robinson didn't make a great difference until he put in his last minute shot. Pringle made little difference when he came on, but then once again he had little time to show if he could do more.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to the useless and apparently biased linesman to the right of the Charlton faithful.
Assistant match analyst Hooch the Pooch is an Eddie Youds fan but Bob the Dog identifies with Keith Jones.
Massachusetts Addick Doug Chapman had never seen Charlton win at home. But that curse was lifted when two goals from captain Mark Kinsella saw the Addicks beat Swindon 2-1 in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. Rick Everitt's house guest was a popular addition to a somewhat depleted group of listers in the Rose of Denmark before the game. And the descendant of Herbert Chapman confessed that at one time Rick's friends were putting a bet on a 1-1 draw when he was around because he had seen so many of them. The streets were unsually quiet when we walked to The Valley and once we were in the ground it was clear that the crowd was severely depleted, fortunately being nearly a thousand over the 10,000 mark.
The Addicks started brightly and just a few minutes into the game a corner was carved out by Shaun Newton, followed by a second. The early pressure continued when Clive Mendonca made use of a Newton cross to put in a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar. Then it was the turn of Chris Powell ('Steve' to Planet Teamtalk) to put in a shot that tested the Swindon keeper. Fifteen minutes into the game a rare Swindon attack during which Todd went down and had to come off limping with an anke injury. He came back on but had to be substituted a little later by Keith Jones. A little after the quarter hour Hunt got away on his own up front but put the ball into the goalkeeper. Swindon won their first corner on 22 minutes and four minutes later Kinsella drew a good save from Mildenhall that produced a Charlton corner. Good play by Shaun Newton provided an opportunity, but Shields delivered the ball to the keeper. Swindon then Charlton won a corner and as the break approached Newton hit the ball into the side netting when perhaps he should have laid off. Just before the break Deano went down. I thought that he had fallen awkwardly but the crowd blamed Swindon's Scott Leitch who did indeed prove to be a nasty piece of work. Before the whistle blew, the impressive Kinsella shot just over the bar.
The half started with the Bloke Behind Me, who was in overdrive in terms of moaning, predicting an early Swindon strike. However, Charlton did the opposite to their usual post-break concession. A free kick for obstruction led to a Charlton corner. Then Newton put in a shot which the keeper kicked out, only for Kinsella to pounce on the ball and deliver a sweet strike.
Charlton had a chance to make it two, but Mildenhall saved from Newton. I had said during the break that any Swindon goal would be a fluke. Steve from Sidcup reminded me of this prediction when Gooden beat four Charlton players to put the ball in the back of the net. This good goal reminded us that any team in the division can pull something off. Kinsella then scored his second for the Addicks, making use of a ball sent in from the half way line by Steve Brown. Swindon then nearly went ahead when the impressive Onuora was through on goal only to be well tackled by Powell for the price of a corner. Referee Alan Butler, who had quite a good game, the booked Swindon's Andy Williams for a foul on Salako. Shaun Newton then burst through on the right, but overhit a cross designed to met by Salako. The winger has never managed to last a match and was pulled off for Youds. Sol Davis picked up a yellow card for a foul on Newton. Clive Mendonca was on target with a shot collected by the keeper and Hunt shot over the top of goal.
There were some nervous moments in the closing phase of the match. Charlton managed to clear a Swindon free kick. Youds then raised Charlton's hopes with a great shot that was well saved by Mildenhall. A couple of late Swindon corners gave cause for concern. As the crowd whistled loudly for what seemed like minutes, the referee eventually blew up. It was not a great performance, but as someone said, a win is a win. Our first journey to Charlton on the Jubilee Line thus ended well.
Match analyst Bob the Dog had no hesitation in awarding the Silver Bone to Mark Kinsella, not just for his two goals, but for a great all round performance. Kiely was usual authoritative self, as befits someone steeled in the rough and tough school of Leamington Hibernians. Chris Powell made one decisive defensive intervention and came close to scoring. Steve Brown had a good game, making some excellent passes, one of which created the second goal. Richard Rufus carrying a plaster on a hairline fracture make excellent use of his head in more ways than one. It was good to see Greg Shields back and to realise how much we have missed him, not least for his forays forward. Newton had an excellent game and it is good to see him recovering his old form. Todd looked very promising for the short time he was on and his departure marked the end of Charlton's most consistent spell of the match. Salako was very much involved, but is not as good as 'flu victim Robinson. Hunt could have made more of a couple of chances and Mendonca seemed to lack confidence in front of goal, but the midfield was there to come to the rescue. Keith Jones made some good passes, but was subject to the usual abuse if he did make a mistake, leading one supporter to point out to the Bloke Behind Me just how good he was at Barnsley. Youds played well when he came off the bench, looking threatening at corners.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Swindon's Scott Leitch who got away with some nasty fouls.
Former Addick Paul Sturgess kept non-league Hereford's FA Cup hopes alive, and helped to earn the cash strapped club a vital replay, with a goal line clearance in the home game against Leicester City. Paul was not the most distinguished occupant of the No.3 shirt at Charlton, but the Cup seems to bring out the best in him. He will be remembered for a battling performance in our home cup tie against Newcastle.
Block E, Row Q
In Front of the Bloke Behind Me