For reports on the home match against Blackburn and subsequent games please go to Volume 5 .
It wasn't a particularly inspiring match and a neutral observer might think that Bolton were denied the three points only by their inability to take chances and by the woodwork on one occasion. However, Charlton's clear game plan was to come away with a useful away point as a minimum, and perhaps sneak a 1-0 as at Ipswich and Chelsea. If Kevin Lisbie had been able to make more of two chances, the Addicks might have well come back with three points. But at least they were able to deal competently with Bolton's three pronged attack and ensure that the Trotters did not get their first win at home since August.
When I told a colleague at our annual dinner on Friday night that I was driving to Bolton the next day, he commented. 'It will be a typical British football match in winter. Freezing cold, ball up in the air all the time, crunching tackles and a 0-0 scoreline.' Well, Pete the Hatter got two out of four right.
The day started well with the arrival of a personal Christmas card from Curbs with a warm message. Having collected an excited Hooch the Pooch we had a good run to Bolton in just over two-and-a-half hours. We met up with Vern from Steyning in the stadium who commented on the frantic and largely unsuccessful attempts to whip up an atmosphere in the half empty stadium as dancers descended from may generations of mill girls attempted their version of line dancing. The referee was a newcomer to the Premiership, Mr C Foy. He has attracted some criticism elsewhere, and was perhaps too keen on blowing up for free kicks. However, they were generally in Charlton's favour and he ignored some ludicrous penalty appeals from the crowd.
Charlton started brightly and the opening phase of the game was played largely in Bolton's half. A free kick won by Costa set up a chance for Lisbie in the opening couple of minutes, but keeper Jaaskelanien (who impressed me in the FA Cup clash in 2000)was able to palm the ball away for a corner which was easily cleared. Bolton soon won the first of their seven corners, but the Addicks maanged to convert it into a break. Luke Young had one of his trademark runs, but his shot was way off target when he could have laid the ball off to Stuart. A good cross by Chris Powell won the Addicks a corner, but to no effect. A dangerous Bolton ball from a free kick was ruled offside. Euell was then called on for good defensive work. On 19 minutes danger man Ricketts got past Costa and put in a good shot which either bounced off the crossbar or was touched on to it by Keily, Feesh eventually making the clearance. Fortune picked up a yellow card for a foul. He then showed his worth with a great block. Jensen turned provider for Luke Young who had a good try at goal. A Charlton free kick from Jensen was saved.
A superb pass from Euell released Lisbie, but he seemed to shoot with the outside of his foot and the Finnish keeper was able to make the save. A break by the Trotters and a good cross gave Wallace a chance, but his shot went over. A Bolton corner taken short provided a chance for Nolan, but his shot went wide. Chris Powell conceded an avoidable Bolton corner, but it was cleared. Good defensive work by Fortune saw the Addicks go in 0-0. So vibrant had the atmosphere been in the first half that the Bloke Beside Me suggested we start a chorus of 'Silent Night'.
Bolton upped the tempo in the second half and Deano was soon called on to make a couple of saves. This was definitely the best part of the match from a Bolton perspective and the crowd, who had so far been largely preoccupied with booing Feesh at every throw in, suddenly came to life. Jason Euell went down with a head injury, but the referee was very reluctant to stop play. A Bolton corner produced moments of danger in front of the Charlton goal, before the ball was finally cleared. Bolton clearly saw Jensen as the main threat and he was fouled by Per Fransden who received a yellow card. Good work by Luke Young released Jase and provided a Charlton corner (one of four in total).
With the lively Jensen bursting through again, he was brought down by N'Gotty just outside the 'D', giving the Dane a chance to beat his Nordic compatriot in goal. However, Finnish fingertips pushed the ball over the bar. On 68 minutes the singularly unimpressive Parker was pulled off in favour of JJ. A banner in front of the Bolton Council box proclaimed an unlikely bid for the town to become a city in 2002 and as part of their effort to demonstrate their efficiency, the ball boys and girls had been organised to throw a new ball on to the pitch once one had gone out of play. This meant that soft balls were increasingly thrown on, to the increasing irritation of the deubtante referee.
Graham Stuart added to his collection of yellows after a foul and there was a worrying moment when Fortune went down (would that have been said a month ago?) The off form Chris Powell conceded a free kick with a clear handball. Feesh irritated the home supporters with good defensive work, following it up with an accomplished defensive header to Deano. Fortune made a rare error, but the situation was retrieved. Wallace was pulled off for Holdsworth on 84 minutes. As Bolton looked for the winner, a free kick drew a good save from Deano. A rather dubious Bolton corner was partially cleared. Powell was pulled off for Konchesky on 89 minutes and as he sauntered off, the announcer commented 'Chris Powell will eventually be replaced by Paul Konchesky.' The three minutes added on seemed like an agony with Bolton piling on the pressure with a free kick and a corner and Holdsworth heading just wide. Graham Stuart detained the referee to give him the benefit of his experience. It will not be a match to remember at the end of the season, but it gave Charlton a consolidated run of four games without defeat. The Addicks have only lost two matches away this season and are better placed than they were at a comparable time last season. Good organisation at the back is paying off and there is plenty of choice for Curbs up front. (Sorry for late of appearance of report: we were back at 7.30 p.m., but the Tripod system was down until Sunday lunchtime).
Northern match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Claus Jensen for his creativity. At one time both sets of fans were singing 'There's only one Claus Jensen! He also appeared in the Sport First Team of the Day. Deano was on good form once again, although with only five Bolton shots on target (eight off) he was not called on to do a great deal. Chris Powell was not at his best. Feesh dealt calmly with all the barracking that he received and once again showed that he should be an 'ever present' as long as he is fit. Jorge Costa was not as outstanding as at his debut at The Valley, but still very good, although there was one moment of hesitancy when he needed to clear in the Charlton box that was nearly costly. Fortune had another excellent game. Young was able to make some of his trademark runs on the right, but shooting is not his strength and he should lay the ball off more. Captain Stuart had a steady game, although sometimes he lacks that vital extra bit of pace. Parker was very subdued and I can understand why he was subbed. Lisbie missed two good chances to score, and the moaners behind me commented, 'It's gone to its head'. Once again, it's a question of expectations. No striker scores from every opportunity and we cannot expect him to always be on target. Euell was tireless, always looking for chances to break, but also playing his part in midfield and defence. When JJ came on there was a contrast with Euell in terms of a willingness to seize opportunities. Konchesky was limited to a few minutes of play.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to sections of the Bolton crowd for their constant barracking of Feesh.
Crowd rating: 7/10. The Addickted were depleted by the length of the journey, the relative unattractiveness of the fixture and the demands of Christmas shopping (which I remember denying me the opportunity of seeing the famous 7-6 over Huddersfield). Nevertheless, those that were there put up quite a good show with chants of 'To the atmosphere 0-0', 'Where's your Fishy gone?' and renditions of the song in which Jorge Costa's hatred of Millwall is celebrated (noted with amusement by Deano in the Greenwich Mercury.
Charlton have had some good wins this season, notably the 4-2 victory over Arsenal. But until Saturday's 3-1 victory over Spurs they had been unable to provide two victories in succession. The home game against Spurs did not, on the face of it, seem to offer a chance to demonstrate consistency. With Spurs forging up the table, and the chance of going second if they won, Spurs fans already had it written down as an easy three points. Perhaps this tendency to once again underestimate Charlton is helping them. Another record crowd at The Valley of 25,115 saw the Addicks take an early lead with two goals from Graham Stuart and Lisbie. A number of chances to make it 3-0 were missed before half time and a Spurs free kick after Deano was judged to have handled a back pass gave the visitors the chance to get back in the game. However, rampant Kevin Lisbie made it 3-0, leading Spurs fans to queue to get out of the ground leading to chants of 'We can see you pouring out.' Spurs got back a late consolation goal, but it cannot be doubted that the Addicks dominated the match and the margin could have been much wider. This was undoubtedly the best game at The Valley this season.
The match confirmed Charlton's position as top of the league constructed from matches among London's Premiership clubs. They have now beaten the three supposed giants of London football, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, while drawing with Fulham and West Ham. As the Sunday Times put it, 'Charlton are a complete nuisance to all the highly esteemed London clubs.' More importantly, the result put the Addicks tenth in the table, at least temporarily, and equal on points with Manchester United.
I was unable to go to Chelsea so I left the match report in the hands of Iceland addick Olafur Johanssen who was helped by Vern from Steyning. The reason I could not go was that we were undergoing quality assessment in our department most of the week. Obtaining the maximum score of twenty-four points was a good omen for victory on Saturday. In view of the cold weather, and in an attempt to improve the odds, I decided to wear a long sleeved Mesh shirt formerly worn by midfielder Keith Jones (now at Reading) which has proved lucky in the past. The R*se of D**mark was as busy as usual, but I was able to admire the framed photograph of the notorious 'Rodsters' now placed on the wall. I was at the ground in time to see the mascots parade what Brian Cole described as 'fantastic futuristic baton' which is to be used in a national relay race. It looked like something from the old television series Dr Who. I also noticed that the Spurs fans had a large banner ironically proclaiming themselves as the 'Yid Army'.
Jones minor - lucky shirt?
Charlton were clearly up for it from the start and won an early corner when a curling shot by Jensen had to be saved by Sullivan. The corner led to a Spurs break which ended with a foul on Scott Parker. Poor defending by £8.1 million Dean Richards help to create Charlton's first goal on four minutes. With the former Saint seemingly uncertain what he was doing, Euell collided with him and with both players down Jase used his outstretched leg across to Stuart who was six yards out. With Sullivan stranded, it was a simple task for the captain to score.
Stuart came in again and drew a save. Referee Steve Dunn had several words with Rebrov after an accomplished dive. Chris Powell put in a shot which was saved at the expense of the Charlton corner. The ball just missed a number of Charlton players. Fortune showed that he is a quality player with a good defensive header to Deano. There was then something of a lull in the match, but Costa showed that he is a good acquisition when he covered the ball well. Young fairly dispossessed Taricco of the ball, but referee Dunn was not having the charm merchant shown up in this way and awarded Spurs a free kick despite the furious protests of captain Stuart. On 19 minutes Charlton went two up when an advancing Young turned provider for Lisbie whose shot went through Sullivan's legs.
As the half hour approached, Young was beaten on the edge of the area. A blatant dive earned the former Spurs man a yellow card. The Spurs free kick was in a potentially dangerous position, but the shot, if that is what it was, went well wide. One worry at this stage of the game was that Sheringham was being given too much space by the Charlton defence. In fact, Sheringham had at least five chances to score in the game, but was denied by a combination of good work by Deano and his own errors.
In the last phase of the half, Charlton had a number of chances to put the game beyond doubt, but failed to make use of them. Jensen did some excellent work on the left which showed real style but Euell's effort went past the post. There was a moment of danger in front of the Charlton goal, but the ball cleared. Jensen got clear of the defenders, but his shot was weak. Lisbie burst through to create a chance for Jensen, but it was saved for a Charlton corner which was cleared. Then it was Jensen's chance to turn provider for Chris Powell, but the defender was not going to repeat his feat of scoring against Spurs. The half ended with a good fingertip save by Deano from Sheringham and a Tottenham corner. The Bloke Beside Me expressed his nervousness about Charlton's ability to hold on to their lead.
Spurs pulled off Bunjevecic, a name that Brian Cole had particularly enjoyed pronouncing, replacing him by Iversen. The Haringey club tried to mount some early pressure, but this was competently dealt with by Feesh. Scott Parker tried one of his trademark runs, but his shot was wide. A run and cross by the on form Stuart produced a corner for the Addicks. Kevin Lisbie then had a moment of sheer brilliance with a run by the West Stand in the course of which he left two Spurs defenders stranded. Unfortunately, his shot went just wide - he might have done better to hold the ball up and lay it off. It was then Jase's turn to make a run and produce a save from Sullivan.
A moment of great danger for Charlton followed. Deano handled a back pass from midfield which he could have kicked out. As Sheringham tried to knock the ball from his hands, referee Dunn flourished the yellow card. With a free kick in the area, the Charlton wall gathered nervously, but the hapless Anderton sent his shot well wide to shouts of 'sick note' from the Addickted. Charlton had a series of corners which were unproductive. Feesh made a great block. Poyet put in a drive from the edge of the area but Sheringham was clearly offside when he flicked it home. The tank made a superb interception. Seeking inspiration, Hoddle pulled off Davies on 67 minutes in favour of Sherwood. Graham Stuart was injured, but fortunately was soon back on his feet.
Once again there was good defensive work by Feesh. Charlton were now starting to play too defensively, sitting back and letting Tottingham come at them. With Scott Parker making a break, he was cynically fouled by Taricco who received a yellow card. Taricco then got his own back when he dived in front of the East Stand to win a Spurs free kick. He turned and laughed at the infuriated Addickted, but fortunately the free kick led to an offside decision.
Following a Spurs corner won by Anderton, I was able to use one of the stickers supplied last week by Tracy from Dartford: 'Deano makes another fantastic save'. Sherringham was denied from ten yards out. The keeper used both his hands to block the shot at the expense of a corner when it seemed that it must go in the back of the net. Then it was time for the man in borrowed boots (although not today apparently) to put the result beyond doubt. At the other end, Parker had frustrated a Spurs attack at the expense of the corner. As the few minutes of Charlton action on The Premiership showed he burst away on the wing, checking carefully to see who was available. Lisbie made a great run through the middle to take full advantage of a squared ball from Parker and nutmeg Sullivan once again on 78 minutes.
Charlton made a double substitution on 82 minutes. JJ came on in place of Euell who was greeted by loud chants of 'There's only one Jason Euell' as he headed for the dressing room. Stuart, who had picked up a knock, was replaced by Bart-Williams. The Forest player is the subject of a feature in the current 4-4-2 (which also has a profile of Bartlett) in which he reveals that he is engaged in a project exploring the interface between fashion, photography and football from a variety of perspectives. Now was the chance to show what he could do in Premiership football and if he is in fact a second Morts, a mercurial player who was always one of my favourites.
The double substitution seemed to unsettle the side somewhat and Tottenham were able to pile on the pressure. The stream of Spurs fans from the ground came to a brief halt on 85 minutes when Poyet scored with a well taken volley from the edge of the area. Sensing that a more defensive approach might be necessary, Curbs took off Jensen in favour of Konchesky who was soon called into action for two Charlton corners. Deano was called on to make two more saves and there was a certain nervousness in the crowd, a bloke behind me screaming 'Flipping Nora' and 'Flaming Nora' every time Spurs got he ball. Feesh went down, but then the final whistle blew. One geezer said to me, 'My hands are sore after that.' Sunday was going be one of those days when, as Keith Peacock has put it, the Addickted would want to buy extra papers. On the train home, we were talking to a young woman whose boss was a Spurs fan, who had been listening on the radio, and had sent the whole staff home in disgust when the game ended.
An excited Olafur Johansson rang me from Grindavik. He seemed most pleased about the relative position of Charlton to Manure as he has a hard time from the fish wives of the packing shed who support United to a woman. As someone remarked outside the Superstore afterwards, will glory hunters be changing their Vodafone shirts for Leeds or Liverpool shirts soon? (PS: Thanks to the customer in the Superstore who said she really enjoyed this page. I don't know how she recognised me).
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Super Kevin Lisbie. He has now scored three goals in the Premiership in a week, and his performance showed determination, flair and skill, even if the chants of 'Lisbie for England' are somewhat premature. Deano won the Internet Player of the Month trophy for the third month running, leading Brian Cole to quip that he was building an extension for his trophies. Indeed, he was in the running for yet another Silver Bone, making a vital and seemingly impossible stop at close quarters from Sheringham. Worries that fin damage suffered at the Bridge might stop Feesh from playing fortunately proved ill founded as the South African made a number of key defensive interventions. He was also able to communicate in Portuguese with Jorge Costa. Perhaps not the sort of signing Curbs would have made in the past, Costa showed why he is nicknamed the tank as he made a number of defensive blocks. For example, he made a superb tackle on Anderton to avert danger in the first half. Forwards will not want to get too involved with him. He is a sort of up market Eddie Youds. Fortune had another excellent game, demonstrating once again the value of Charlton's youth policy. Luke Young was perhaps the most disappointing Charlton player on the pitch, although he did provide the assist for one goal. Perhaps he was unnerved by playing against his former club, drawing the inevitable chant of 'Tottingham reject'. Chris Powell had a good game and must surely have increased his chances of participation in the England squad. After some indifferent recent performances, Stuart played well, leaving aside his first goal of the season. He also seemed to fit into the captain's role well, often urging on and encouraging the Charlton players. Parker had a superb game. He was always up for it and was involved all over the park. Jensen displayed his silky skills, although might have made more of some goal scoring opportunities. It was good to see Euell back again and he was at his creative best, harrying the Spurs defence. JJ came on a substitute and tried to make the most of his opportunity. Bart-Williams was on for too short a period to judge what his contribution is likely to be. Konchesky was brought on towards the end of the game to steady the ship.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Mauricio Taricco , a talented but cynical player. After one blatant dive, he turned and grinned at the East Stand.
Crowd rating: In as good voice as I have heard them, worth 9/10.
Wyn Grant used this headline after the Addicks won at Ipswich and now I am writing it at Stamford Bridge, writes Iceland's No.1 Addick, Olafur Johanssen from his room in the Bates Motel. Lisbie scored the winning goal two minutes from time ending Chelsea's unbeaten home record and giving the Addicks a vital three points to help them get clear of the relegation zone. The score repeats that at the Bridge last year and gives Charlton the chance of getting a double over Chelsea again. The last Premiership team to beat Chelsea at the Bridge was Charlton.
The game was evenly contested in the first half, but Chelsea came into it more in the second half, although their finishing was often poor. At one point my compatriot Gudjohnsen had a chance to score, but dragged his shot wide. 'The Tank' Jorge Costa came on as a substitute for Mr Feesh who had fin damage. There was a chance for Chelsea to equalise in the closing minute with a Zola corner, followed by a misjudged punch by Kiely, but the header went over the bar.
What a day I am having. I left Grindavik in the early hours to travel over the lava desert to Reykjavik. It was very cold and snowing! (If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you will see a picture of Reykjavik that day). Our airport has the only duty free opticians in the world and I have often suggested that the FA charter a plane and fill it with referees so that any necessary corrective action can be taken. Arriving at the Bates Motel, I was hoping to be greeted by Mr Bates himself or at least by a Chelsea Pensioner, but a rather snobby young lady took a large sum of money from my credit card. She is saying that Mr Bates has many debts to pay off. Now I must return the husky with diplomatic immunity lent by the Icelandic Embassy after Mr Grant's canine match analysts were banned.
The Chelsea team at first refused to come out for the warm up as they had a big sulk because the Charlton were warming up at the Harding Stand. Eventually, they are changing around, but it was a good omen. Only one other team warmed up at that end all season and that was H. tel Aviv, who also won at the Bridge. One radio commentator is pointing out that all the Charlton players warmed up together, even the substitutes, and this is reflecting the great team spirit at the club. Strong opposition brings out the best of Charlton and they were clearly more up for it than at Watford the week before - or at least according to a very nice man I am sitting next to called Vern from Steyning. In the distance I see the great figure of pitch announcer Brian Cole.
It was perhaps a bad early sign when Mr John Robinson had to retire hurt after a minute. Some people say that it was a hamstring, others say that it was an injury in the nether regions. In any event, Mr Paul Konchesky proved to be an excellent replacement, playing a battling game and making a great contribution to the final result.
There was a moment of danger after fourteen minutes of the game when Zenden got through the Charlton defence and provided the ball for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who was in the area of the far post. Mark Feesh then made a vital interception at the expense of a corner. Indeed, during the evening, Chelsea won only one corner compared to eight for the home side. Some ten minutes later JJ obtained the ball from Mr Dalla Bonna and provided the ball to Euell. Unfortunately, he hesitated, allowing the home side to get the ball out of danger.
Mr Ranieri is very keen on substitutions and after the break he brought on Zola in replace of Zenden. Indeed, it was a puzzle why the inventive midfielder had not been there from the beginning. With Zola on the field, the Addicks were put under more pressure from midfield positions, but the Chelsea's finishing was poor. However, the first chance of the half came to the Addicks. Mr Jensen used his skill to turn provider for Euell who was only eight yards from the goal, but the ball was not easy to control and his shot went against the post. With this good chance wasted at a vital time in the match, the Addickted had their hearts in their dentures and were hoping that Charlton could hold on for 0-0. Certainly Deano was called into action much more in the second half.
After 56 minutes Mr Kiely showed his skill when he had to block a fierce shot from Hasselbaink. The ball was available and Mr Melchiot tried to put it into the net, but the keeper was able to scoop it clear. A rare mistake by Chris Powell gave Hasselbaink the opportunity to lay the ball off to Gudjohnsen. What a blow if my countryman had scored, but perhaps he was worried by the seismic activity reported in Iceland, because he fortunately put the shot wide. Then Mr Kiely had to make a diving save from another effort from Mr Hasselbaink who also put the ball into the side netting.
On 64 minutes a slightly subdued JJ was withdrawn in favour of Mr Lisbie who had played so well at the weekend. Gudjohnesen was replaced by Forssell on 79 minutes. The moment headline writers had been waiting for came on 81 minutes when Mr Feesh was clearly floundering as a fish caught by one of our trawlers and 'The Tank', Jorge Costa, came on providing a 'Costa Fortune' defensive lineup. I wonder how much English he speaks?
Then the chance came on 89 minutes. Mr Konchesky took a free kick and Mr Lisbie was unmarked (Chelsea's marking had not been good) and he headed the ball into the net. As Mr Ranieri said afterwards, he knew it would be a difficult match and Chelsea would have settled for a point. I think that perhaps Mr Bates was not as philosophical.
All this was worth the long journey from Iceland. Unfortunately, our President (Olafur Grimsson, who is my second cousin by marriage) was for many years a student in Manchester and developed an unhealthy affiliation in football. But when I next see him I will tell him that his old pal, Mr Wyn Grant, whom he met so many years ago in Edinborg was a happy man on this very special date for Charlton.
Kendottir the Glacier Dog has awarded the Frozen Bone to Jonathan Fortune for a spirited and effective performance in defence.
I was hoping to meet England's Mr Football at his motel, but I must content myself with a picture of him giving the benefit of his expertise on football to Mr Bassett of the City of Leicester club who I believe comes from the family that invented the famous English liquorice all out of sorts.
I am working on Wednesday evening so self-proclaimed No.1 Addick in Iceland, Olafur Johansson, will be reporting from the Bridge. OJ will fly in Reyjkavik on Wednesday and will stay after the match at the Bates Motel.
He first became attracted to the Addicks because of their historical association with fish. When his firm posted him to their London office, he became an enthusiastic supporter, often reporting his experiences in Voice of the Valley. He was even nominated for Anorak of the Month on the old Millennium Radio show. He decided to use the opportunity of an away at Everton to sell some of his company's products to 'young entrepreneurs' in Aigburth, but he lost both the fish and the van and was recalled in disgrace to his company's headquarters in the small Icelandic town of Grindavik. (For pictures of the town visit Grindavik .) He will be appearing at the match in the traditional yellow oilskins worn by Grindavik supporters. The first person to recognise him and answer a simple question about Icelandic football will receive a small prize.
Genial Ken Bates has banned all our canine match reporters from the ground, but the Icelandic embassy is hoping to send a husky with diplomatic immunity.
Look out for Olafur Johanssen at the Bridge. He's Addickted, he's Icelandic, he's barking and he's over here.
The t-shirts were ready and printed to be sold after the game: 'I saw the Geordies win in London.' But the dealers had to pack them away again as the Magpies failed to end their run of twenty-eight runs to the capital without success as Charlton held them to a 1-1 draw. The talking point in the press will undoubtedly be the sending off of Alan Shearer, against which he will appeal. Referee Andy d'Urso, the banker from Billericay, did not distinguish himself with his judgements, not least his inability to recognise blatant handballs. Indeed, with the news that sponsorship of referees is to spread from Spain to other Fifa countries, it is understood that Guide Dogs for the Blind are lining up to sponsor d'Urso. Indeed, it was not the best of afternoons for the officials, with the East Stand official in the first half showing great difficulty in recognising an offside, while his successor in the second half was knocked out by the ball.
However, all this is incidental to the main plot. Charlton's main hoodoo this season has been injuries and this theme continued with Mark Kinsella away for an operation on his knee and Andy Todd not available. Indeed, I calculated that Charlton currently have eight key players injured, including the sad case of Jason Euell which helps you to get football into proportion. It was therefore very worrying when two players had to be substituted in the first half, first Steve Brown and then Shaun Bartlett, with the latter looking unlikely to play at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. What was encouraging was the way in which Jonathan Fortune filled Brown's place with skill and determination, while Charlie MacDonald was introduced in the 80th minute and scored the equaliser two minutes later. Controversial match analyst Bob the Dog has taken the unusual step of taking two silver bones from his kennel so that they can both have one.
Bob the Dog's team (Barking Mad) in the Dream Valley fantasy football competition is now bottom of the table.
Charlton's first half performance was often worrying with Craig Bellamy causing particular trouble for the home side, even if his finishing let him down. However, their performance became more confident as the half progressed and they could feel satisfied with 0-0 at the break. So the score stayed until 73 minutes when a scuffed shot from Speed edged into the net. MacDonald's equaliser was more impressive. He got hold of the ball on the edge of the box and although first attempt was blocked by Dabizas, he pounced on the ball again to put a forceful shot past Given.
As we got the train at London Bridge, a young boy said to his father who was wearing Charlton colours, 'Are we going to lose today, dad?' Sport First had already made its mind up with a headline 'Shearer will end hoodoo'. When we arrived at the R*se of D**ma*k, it was heaving with Geordies enjoying Chelsea's demolition of United. Tracy from Dartford, the tin opener of assistant hiss of the match analyst Penny, had kindly printed out a series of stickers for me to put in my notebook such as 'Charlton free kick - wasted' and 'Charlton corner - nothing'. They were very useful, but I had less reason to use the more negative stickers than at both Southampton and Watford.
The game saw another record attendance of 24,151, although there were some gaps which could not be explained in terms of safety cordons. It may be that a capacity of nearly 27,000 will meet most of our needs for the time being.
Steve Brown made a good early clearance and the team looked more confident than they had in the previous two matches. However, the first sticker from Tracy that I put in my notebook was 'Charlton free kick:- wasted' in relation to an effort by Chris Powell. With the Barcodes allowed to break, Newcastle won their first corner minutes into the game. Then six minutes into the game a one-two between Shearer and Bellamy led me to place a 'Deano makes another fantastic save' sticker into my notebook in relation to Bellamy's effort. The Magpies made intelligent use of the long ball down the wing and Deano made one of his trademark punches out. My next note is 'Scott Parker felled with elbow', but the visually challenged Mr D'Urso simply awarded a free kick. But the balance was somewhat redressed, although not in the direction of fairness, when a marginal offside decision protected the Addicks. With the ball given away on the wing, Newcastle made another break with Stuart coming to the Addicks' rescue. Then it was the turn of Charlton to break on the wing, but JJ's over hasty cross was of little value as there was no one there to connect with it. Newcastle won another corner, but it led to nothing more threatening than a throw in for the visitors. Chris Powell unusually gave the ball away, and it was left to Steve Brown to restore control. Claus Jensen turned provider for Luke Young who put in a good left footed shot which drew a save from Given. Then it was the turn of Deano to make another good save, this time from Shearer.
Bellamy continued to be a threat and Jensen was called on to make a good clearance. At the other end, JJ powered in and Given was called on to make a save at the expense of a Charlton corner. This was partially cleared, but Charlton then deserved another corner (as a Geordie admitted to me later) which was baffingly denied by the inept officials.
Twenty minutes into the game the Addicks had absorbed the early pressure. They had denied Newcastle the early goal they were clearly looking for and were starting to get into the game more. However, more moments of danger for the home sid were imminent. Scott Parker was booked for obstruction, putting him on four yellow cards. A good build up by Newcastle gave Bellamy the chance to test Deano with an angled drive but the keeper saved. On 26 minutes Steve Brown was pulled off with an injury (not because he could not deal with Bellamy). Fortune immediately showed his worth with good defensive work, but Deano had to put Bellamy's next effort over the bar. From the resultant corner, Shearer put a header just over the crossbar.
Bellamy won a very dubious free kick on the edge of the 'D', but the shot went off the Charlton wall. Deano and the East Side linesman had a long argument about whether the inept official should have awarded an offside. On 34 minutes, Bartlett went down and hobbled to the touchline. Bellamy's shot went over the bar, but Mr D'Urso, who had given up on the search for his contact lenses, ruled that it was a Newcastle corner. The header went over the crossbar. Bartlett clearly could not continue and had to be pulled off on 38 minutes in favour of Lisbie, further lowering the average age of the team. The audacious youngster quickly drew a save from Given, while Fortune showed his worth with good defensive work. Robbo was spoken to my Mr D'Urso after he got into some kind of argument with a Newcastle player. In the two minutes added on, Lisbie won the Addicks a corner but the sticker 'Charlton corner:-nothing' went into the notebook.
There was a crucial moment just after the break. Charlton were awarded a free kick twenty-five yards out for obstruction against Robbo. A hand stretched up to intercept Jensen's free kick, but referee d'Urso, who clearly thought that he was refereeing a netball match, waved aside any question of a penalty. Lisbie had a chance, but hesitated too long. Fortune made an excellent defensive header to Deano. Shearer turned provider for Bellamy, but once again his finishing let him down and the ball rebounded from Deano's left hand post. Scott Parker had a try from distance on 57 minutes, but Given pushed the ball out, giving a chance to Lisbie whose attempt went into the side netting. Good work by Charlton gave JJ a chance from about twenty yards, but his volley was saved by Given.
A Charlton corner involved another possible handball incident, then Newcastle won a corner despite good work by Feesh. A foul on Scott Parker was ignored. Luke Young turned provider for Stuart, but the captain's header went over. Bellamy picked up a yellow card for a foul on Feesh. Play was then interrupted when the linesman went down cold from a Newcastle ball. Speed was booked for a foul on Parker.
Charlton were playing much better in the second half and it is no wonder that Steve from Sidcup stated 'I feel robbed' after what happened next. Stuart appeared to have dealt with a cross from the left, but Speed tried a speculative shot which seemed to take a deflection from the pitch, beat Kiely and went in just inside the post. Scott Parker attempted to remedy the balance with one of his trademark runs, but his effort went wide. On 80 minutes Curbs, who has attracted much criticism for his substitutions, made his master stroke of pulling off Stuart and bringing on MacDonald. According to the Bloke Beside Me, it took him exactly two and a half minutes to score his first Premiership goal. After Lisbie's effort was blocked, MacDonald put in an excellent left-foot effort from about twenty yards which left Given with no chance. The Valley erupted and there were real hopes of taking all three points, although that would not have reflected the balance of the match. On 86 minutes Robert was replaced by Lua Lua, the pronounciation of whose name gives Brian Cole great pleasure (you see, I got a reference in about you, Brian).
The controversial Shearer sending off incident followed. Any sending off of Shearer is going to be controversial, as he made clear by the graceless way he left the field. To Newcastle fans he is a god, to the fans of some other clubs he is an often dirty player who has an exaggerated view of his own abilities (although I would acknowledge that they are considerable, as was evident during the match). Bobby Robson was incensed after the game and Curbs judiciously remarked that we would have to wait for the video evidence. From the East Stand, I didn't get a good view of the incident, although my initial expectation was of a yellow. However, the decision was taken by d'Urso after consulting the linesman, although he had shown himself to have poor judgement earlier in the game. A well known fan who is Juneau the Soccer Cat's hero because he used to be Sainsbury's cat food taster (before he moved on to being toilet roll supremo) stated, 'From my vantage point in the Upper West, it was eye-poppingly clear that he elbowed Fortune in the jaw. What was also very clear was the way that he threateningly pointed and shouted at the linesman as he departed, and the calculatedly marched down the pitch, within the field of play, all the way to the tunnel.' (Since writing the first version of this report, a respected lounge lizard has E mailed the list to say that he spoke to Fortune after the match and the player told him that he had received an elbow in his face).
His departure was too late to give the Addicks any real advantage. There was a curious incident in which Bellamy seemed to be complaining to the referee that Parker had undermined his marriage prospects. Bellamy actually looked down his shorts which led the wag behind me (the Bloke Behind Me has disappeared) to shout, 'There's nothing there anyway, Bellamy.' Bellamy was pulled off for Amoebi at the beginning of the three minutes added on. Newcastle now seemed to be relying on foul after foul. A Charlton free kick gave Lisbie a chance, but his shot went wide. In the dying moments, Lisbie put in a good cross, but JJ was unable to make anything of it. As the Addickted celebrated a far more determined and skilled performance by Charlton, which moved them above West Ham, Ireland's No.1 and No.2 embraced in the middle of the field.
We had a good chat on the train home with a Geordie. Unlike Manure, they have few glory seekers who are hangers on, but large numbers of devoted fans. The Premiership did a feature on them leaving Newcastle at the crack of dawn, evidently anticipating that they would repeat their feat at Palarse in 1997, but it was not to be. Now Charlton have to face a rampant Chelsea at the Bridge.
It was possible to make use of the 'Deano makes another fantastic save' stickers in the first half. Dean Kiely had another excellent game. It was good to see Feesh back, even if he was less involved in this match than in some others. Leaving aside one error, Chris Powell had another good game, often playing an important role in the build up to Charlton attacks. Luke Young often looks more impressive when he is bearing down on goal than in defence. Steve Brown was his usual dependable self until he was withdrawn. My heart sank when I heard that Stuart was both playing and captain. In fact, his performance was much better than in the last two matches, but still well below the standard of the earlier part of last season. Parker often seems more effective when Kinsella is not playing as he has more space in whih to operate and so it proved today. Robbo played with considerable energy, which is not unusual, but also with more skill than in the last two matches. Jensen generally played well, although he made one or two errors which led to the ball being taken away from him by Magpies. Bartlett was playing quite well until he was injured. JJ looked good on the wings, but never really came close to scoring except with one shot whic tested Given. As noted above, Fortune provided a calm and capable performance and did not seem to be out of his depth. Lisbie showed plenty of pace and initiative but, as always, his finisihing left him down. Perhaps he would be best played as a winger? We are short of them. MacDonald played as if he really wanted to make a point.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Andy d'Urso who truly did not appear to know what he was doing. She wishes to make it known that she is annoyed with Cat from next door (that is his name, his tin opener is a minimalist). On Saturday morning he came in wearing his Coventry City collar, ate her food and then hissed at her.
Crowd rating: The Geordies were in full voice as one would expect and Charlton were definitely outsung in the opening period of the match when the Geordies were singing 'shall we sing a song for you?' But the Addickted found their voice as the match went on. There is a suspicion that some of the newest fans are like some old Wimbledon supporters, i.e., it's a chance to watch Premiership football in London at a reasonable price. 7/10.
Because of the time it takes to produce these reports, we are going to cut out some detail in future, e.g., descriptions of wasted Charlton dead ball situations.
After two poor games, the vultures are circling around Alan Curbishley. Never mind that he has enabled a medium-sized club to punch above its weight. Who thought when we returned to The Valley that within ten years we would have what is effectively a brand new stadium and be in the Premiership? Much of that is due to Curbs and the board. However, the expectations of fans have risen sharply in the last couple of years, perhaps to an unrealistic extent given the resources available to Charlton compared with the bigger clubs in the Premiership. We cannot borrow eleven million to buy Fowler as Leeds just have.
When things start to go wrong, the manager invariably gets the blame. Some fans criticise his tactics, his reluctance to make substitutions, his caution in buying players and in dropping them when they are under performing. There is something in these criticisms. Alan Curbishley is a cautious and prudent man, qualities which produce both strengths and weaknesses. But should he go, who might replace him? One fan has suggested George Graham. Well, he knows about London clubs and his ethical standards are beyond reproach.
However, it may be that Charlton should consider an entirely new approach to choosing a manager. Here we consider three possibilities: a foreign manager, a non-league manager and a fan manager.
Franz Fischler has a busy day job in Brussels, but at weekends he flies home to Austria to manage Goatherders of Alpenstuck who have stormed up Provincial Division 2. The introduction of half time yodelling displays have been popular with fans whose numbers are now in double figures.
Dave Draper is Director of Football at Midland Combination side Leamington, aka the Brakes. He is seen larging it in front of the Covered or Chicken Shed End. A victim of the dread Early Leaver Syndrome, Draper slipped out of Old Trafford before Beckham's equaliser against Greece. His communication skills (he has been described as the maestro of the basement flat press conference) could be honed by Rick Everitt.
Charlton have never progressed to the quarter finals of the League Cup under its various names and their 3-2 defeat in extra time by Watford confirmed this pattern. It was a roller coaster game for the Addicks, but one was left with a sinking feeling that Charlton now have a Premiership relegation battle on their hands. The main problem is the porous defence which would let in even more goals if it was not for Deano's excellence, showed by the way in which he saved a penalty at Vicarage Road. But there are limits to what a keeper can do if he does not have a decent defence in front of him. The answer would seem to be go out and buy someone who would serve as at least a partial replacement for the much missed Rufus who brought a mobility and sense of positioning to the defence that it now largely lacks. However, good defenders are not easy to come by. The club now has a manageable overdraft and no doubt money would be found for the right person. The worst possible outcome would be to be relegated with a large debt which would make recovery difficult.
In the opening phase of the match, Charlton looked as if they were not very interested in winning. Watford were very much up for it and were given plenty of space in which to build up their attacks. The Addicks seem to have been given instructions to avoid any vigorous tackles which might lead to an injury. It was therefore no surprise when Watford went 1-0 ahead. As is often the case when they go behind, Charlton started to show a bit more interest in the game and some pressure at last found its reward in a goal from Mr Dependable, Steve Brown, who is now one of our leading goalscorers. Watford were not going to give up and it was no surprise when they went 2-1 ahead. It looked as if it was all over when they were awarded a penalty for a push by Lisbie, but Deano provided his worth by making a save from an admittedly weak shot aimed at the centre of the goal. Inspired by this success, and fortified by the earlier replacement of the hapless Stuart by Lisbie, Charlton started to play with a determination and spirit that had been lacking earlier in the game. This brought its reward in injury time when Robbo put in a header to make it 2-2.
I felt that extra time might give Charlton a chance to take advantage of hopefully superior fitness. At the very least, if it came to a penalty shoot out, Deano's superiority would surely see us through. However, defensive sloppiness allowed Watford to make it 3-2. To their credit, Charlton didn't give up and Scott Parker hit the post in the closing minutes of the game. Victory went to Watford and their surly supporters and all the Addicks got out of extra time was more tiredness to undermine their preparations for Saturday's crucial clash at The Valley. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are said to be printing 'I saw the Geordies win in London' t-shirts to commemorate Newcastle's first victory in the capital in aeons. As pitch announcer Brian Cole commented as we left, 'Who ever said supporting Charlton was easy?
It was a good job we got to the area of the ground in good time, as parking is a real problem. We followed one line of cars only to find that they had decided to admit permit holders only. Asked where else we might go, the jobsworth in charge replied 'I don't know'. We eventually found a place in a school, noting that this experience would be useful for Division 1 next year. With further confusion about the location of the turnstiles, we only arrived just as the match was about to start. It quickly became evident that Charlton were adopting a 3-5-2 formation which left them with little cover at the back while Watford had an aggressive attacking formation.
The match started quite tightly, but Watford were looking to exploit any opportunities. Todd had to intercept an early attack. Deano was called to make an early save, but Steve Brown conceded the corner. Stuart cleared with a header out. Good work by Scott Parker allowed Chris Powell to put in a useful cross which went across the front of the goal. Jensen put in a shot that was just wide on the quarter hour and then Stuart had a try from distance which was saved. On 17 minutes a shot from Doyley was blocked by Stuart, but the ball fell well for Paolo Vernazza who put it past Kiely.
Charlton's response initially seemed to be rather casual. Charlton fell more than once to the offisde trap. Watford continued to seize their chances and Deano had to make a good save from a cross. Scott Parker had one of his runs on goal and his shot was saved at the expense of the first Charlton corner which did not come to anything. Brown was felled and then Robbo put in an overhit cross that was useless. The Charlton attacks were tending to peter out and I wrote the word 'hopeless' in my notebook against Stuart's name. Fortunately, as half time approached, Steve Brown was able to make use of a complete miskick by Robbo to put the ball past Chamberlain (who was hardly a high quality keeper). With the possibility of Watford scoring again, Luke Young made a good clearance (yes, he did, really). With two minutes of time added on, Scott Parker put a good ball into JJ but his attempt was saved. Watford won a free kick and then a second in a potentially dangerous position, but Deano was able to use of his trademark punches to clear the ball.
After his panto promoting efforts at Southampton, 'star' Charlton supporter and 'comedian' Jim Davidson made another appearance on the pitch at half time which was a real morale booster. Perhaps he was used the Portakabin perched on top of an open set of seats as a corporate hospitality area.
In the opening phase of the second half, Jensen worked a good one-two with Todd, but hesistated rather than shooting as he approached the goal. He was soon surrounded by buzzing hornets ready to defend their nest. A feature of the match was that any Charlton player who got the ball and hesitated was quickly surrounded by two or three hornets, whereas the marking of their players often seemed to be non-existent. A Watford corner set up a situation in which Deano was once again called on to make a great save. Bartlett made one of his rare useful interventions when he provided a decent ball for Scott Parker, but the attempt was saved at the expense of a Charlton corner. Against which I was able to write the word 'nothing' (which I should really have printed on a set of peel off stickers to record corners). However, worse was to come with Stuart giving the ball away, leading Deano to demonstrate his ability at saving once again. There was then a brief period of Charlton pressure when JJ won a corner which was, of course, cleared. Deano had to make yet another save and then Paul Robinson, playing as a wing back on the left (and doing a very good job, it has to be admitted) was released by a good pass from Vernazza enabling him to score from ten yards on the hour. Jensen tried to get Charlton back into things with a looping shot which was just over. 'Welsh international winger' Robinson provided another demonstration of his Premiership skills with a useless cross.
Curbs tried to change things around by pulling off the lacklustre Stuart in favour of Lisbie. An early corner gave the forward a chance, but he missed. Then on 80 minutes Lisbie contrived to foul the 'you see him here, you see him there, you seem him everywhere' Paul Robinson, but Deano saved the penalty. A Charlton corner was cleared, but JJ powered in again and won another corner which was cleared. A Watford break lead to another Deano save and the keeper punched out from the corner. Charlton won a corner and then a second but it was easily cleared. Four minutes of time added on were announced and a minute later Charlie MacDonald was brought on in place of Powell to increase the number of forwards to four. The Watford defence was looking more ragged and Lisbie won a corner. Then a ball from Claus Jensen enabled Robbo to head the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-2 in the last minute of the game. One group of Charlton fans got on to the pitch.
Andy Todd was replaced by Paul Konchesky. As extra time started, a Watford player went down with cramp, leading to an intial hope that fitness might tell. Claus Jensen had a near miss. The Addicks won a corner and then a free kick taken by Jensen. On 99 minutes Smith was given plenty of space to get in a shot. Deano did well to get an outstretched hand to it, but Helguson beat Konchesky to the ball and nodded in from a couple of yards.
There seemed to be little hope of Charlton coming back again. Deano had to punch out a ball from a Watford corner. Luke Young picked up a yellow card for a foul. Steve Brown was injured, but recovered. Charlton won another a couple of corners (perhaps events hardly worth mentioning) and Deano made a good save. The excellent Paul Robinson fired against the woodwork for Watford and Deano had to save from a Watford corner. Following a Charlton corner, Scott Parker's shot hit the inside of the post. A free kick seemed to give Claus Jensen a chance to put in one of his curling balls, but the whistle was blown before it could be taken.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded yet another Silver Bone to Dean Kiely who has joked that he will soon need a kennel in which to keep them. With one of our strongest defenders, Feesh, out injured Todd made a return appearance, but he hardly looked as if he was playing for his place or a good transfer deal. Luke Young was back to the kind of insipid performance that earned him the 'Luke Warm' tag. Someone commented that Spurs were on to a good thing when they off loaded him on to us. Powell had a reasonable game, but was not at his best. To put it mildly, the performance by Stuart left a lot to be desired. What has happened to a player who sparkled in the early part of last season. For me Parker was one of the few consistently good players on the pitch, always striving to get involved and showing real skill. Jensen was also one of the few players who looked like real Premiership quality. Robbo scored what could have been a decisive goal, but he also put in some woeful crosses. JJ at least look interested and was, as usual, a threat on the wings. Bartlett's form seems to have fallen well below that of season. His main contribution to the game was a series of directionless headers. Lisbie showed plenty of energy and at did make a difference when he came on. This was offset by one of the worst corners I have ever seen. Admittedly, he won it with his skill, but couldn't he wait for Jensen to come down the pitch? MacDonald showed once again that he is well short of Premiership standard. Konchesky performed reasonably well, but the composition of the stage was so odd by that stage that he did not know where to place himself.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to referee Mr Barry who drew simultaneous chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' from both sets of supporters. His final act of folly was to award the Addicks a free kick and then blow the final whistle before it could be taken. Earlier, the normally even tempered Chris Powell had come close to shoving him. Mind you the OTT Watford announcer was another candidate. You would think they had won the Worthless Cup rather than beating a team from the Premiership Relegation League at home.
Crowd rating: Given the often disheartening performance, the Addickted did well, although I had the misfortune to be sitting next to Pam from Sidcup for the first half whose slagging off of the team is both constant and loud. Stuart was deservedly booed when he was substituted. I also found it a little difficult to sing 'Come on you Reds' when Watford were playing in red shorts (albeit a very odd type of red). I also thought that the chant 'We are Premier League' was hardly appropriate when we weren't providing a Premiership level performance on the pitch. As one lister has commented, one of the worst moments for him was when he was walking back to his car and a Watford sprog said 'Charlton are going down' and he didn't feel that he could disagree. Rating: 6/10.
PS: When I wrote the headline I didn't realise how appropriate it was. Apparently, Watford was built on a gravel pit. Once a hole as large as a 'horse and cart' appeared. On another occasion, one of their smaller players was almost swallowed up by a hole that appeared on the pitch. One almost wishes that one or two Charlton players had disappeared down such a hole on Tuesday night.
The number of Addickted to have visited this page is
Next to Steve from Sidcup
Block E, Row Q Seat 100
The Bloke Behind Me has disappeared!