The report from Ipswich and subsequent matches can be found at Volume 5.
One of the themes of the current season has been the emergence of the always capable Graham Stuart as a key player in the Charlton side. And so it proved against Bradford when Stuart created one goal and scored the other. Although Bradford looked threatening going forward on occasions, they were bantamweight at the back and, but for missed chances, the score could have been higher. But it was an important three points which left Charlton a comfortable eight in the table.
The victory was a particular pleasure as we were sponsoring the match for my wife's 60th birthday. After eating in a cavernous and gloomy lounge at Villa the previous week, we were able to enjoy a view of the Dome, Canary Wharf and the London Eye. Speculation over lunch centred on the threat that Collymore and Carbone might pose to the Addicks. But Collymore had to pull out to visit the dentist following a problem with a wisdom tooth (although a scurrilous rumour circulating in the lounges suggested that he had had a falling out with a fellow player in the hotel). Carbone only appeared as a substitute towards the end of the match.
Before the match started we went out on to the pitch to shake hands with referee Mr Barry who was a surprisingly jolly fellow. He also refereed the game well. By the time we had got back to our seats in the front row of the upper west, we were just in time to see Svensson provide an excellent ball to Stuart. Stuart then put in a first class cross and all JJ had to do was to put it in the back of the net. Four minutes and 1-0 up. Three minutes later Rufus just missed, but there was an anxious moment when Brown failed to clear and Chris Powell conceded a Bradford corner, but Stuart headed the ball away. Deano then made a good save from what looked as if it might be an own goal. A good cross from Chris Powell threatened the same outcome at the other end. On twelve minutes excellent work by Svensson put Jensen was through one on one, but Clarke saved without too much difficulty. Deano then spilled the ball, but safely recovered it. Svensson then put in a good ball to Stuart, but in a rare error, the midfield maestro lost it. But he was soon to make amends. On sixteen minutes Stuart brought the ball from inside the Charlton half, powered forward, worked a one-two with JJ and put the ball in he back of the net past Clarke who seemed to be running for a train at North Greenwich.
A couple of minutes later JJ bore down on the keeper, but he was able to save at the expense of a throw in. Bradford continued to show an ability to get back into things, but Rufus shephered the ball out for a goal kick in a display of the skills we have missed so much in the last two matches. A Bradford free kick for hand ball against Rufus produced a bit of a goalmouth scramble, but the ball was cleared. A foul against Svensson was ignored by the referee, who then almost immediately gave Bradford a free kick, but the shot sailed over Deano's left hand post at the Covered End. Charlton were piling on the pressure just after the half hour, but then Deano had to make a good save from a difficult ball from Beagrie. A good shot from Shields then had to be palmed away by Clarke. Robbo put in a decent cross, but there was no one there to meet it. Deano was then forced into a save with his foot from Ashley Ward. Then Chris Powell was through and I was wondering if I would be able to wear the t-shirt, 'I saw Chris Powell score.' But the shot went not far wide to the despair of the popular left back. Charlton then had a rather fortunate free kick to the right of the Bradford goal. The ball was cleared, but then Robbo got in a shot which went over. Time for the half time refreshments.
The two Bradford fans who had been sitting next to me in the first half did not reappear, presumably having decided to drown their sorrows. An early Charlton corner was cleared rather scrappily by the Bradford defence and then it was the turn of Bradford to have a corner which was cleared. Powell then put in a cross to Svensson who was just five yards out. Perhaps distracted by the nearby presence of JJ, he scuffed his shot and missed a great chance to make it 3-0. It was at a stage of the game which could have easily led to the demolition of a demoralised Bradford. JJ powered through, but appeared to dive and didn't get a free kick. Deano spilled the ball, but saved it the second time. A resurgent Bradford then put a ball right across the front of the goal, but fortunately no one was there to connect with it. Petrescu was pulled off for Windass.
A Bradford corner then led to a shot past the post. As the half hour approached, Kinsella put in a powerful and accurate shot, but the keeper was well placed to save it. A couple of marginal offside decisions by the West Stand linesman denied Charlton when it looked as if they might be through. Curbs had been seen in earnest conversation with Todd on the touchline and the tiring Claus Jensen was replaced by the reliable defensive midfielder. Bradford then had three corners in succession. Carbone was then on last brought on in place of Saunders and did help to liven up Bradford. Simultaneously Svensson was replaced by Lisbie who used his pace to good effect. A Stuart cross produced a Charlton corner. Salako was brought for JJ and immediately made an impression by winning a free kick. A Graham Stuart run allowed Robbo to win a Charlton corner taken by Salako. The corner was taken short and Stuart was fouled by McCall who had already received a yellow card, so the Bradford skipper was off. He seemed to want to stay on to sort things out with Robbo, but Kinsella intervened to move him on his way. This was virtually the last action of the match.
We then went back in to vote for Graham Stuart as man of the match. John Window appeared to say hello to everyone. The hero of the hour then appeared with Robbo and I had the privilege of shaking him by the hand. My wife got a superb programme and original photograph montage of a 1935 game against Bradford City: a 1940 one would not have been an option as she was born during the blitz. This had clearly been put together with much thought and care and will be a treasured possession. I would like to thank all the marketing and hospitality staff for a superb day out.
We then went to the Millennium bar where Salako quizzed Mike Robinson about the price of his season ticket. Robbo appeared with his wife and baby. As he left, cheeky lister Kap Varma asked, 'Is he answering back yet?' Robbo replied, 'No, not yet. But he soon will be.' Richard Sheppard (who had earlier met old school mate Brian Kinsey) tried to get a message up to the directors' lounge to get Bob Whitehand to appear, but it may have been distorted so that the popular director was told that a dick and a group of rods were in the lounge. Anyway, a marvellous day out.
Match analyst Bob the Dog took particular pleasure in presenting the coveted Silver Bone to Graham Stuart in person. It was a superb performance by Stuart, especially in the first half. It was another clean sheet for Dean Kiely , although he did have one or two nervous moments. But he also made some vital saves from players such as Ward who should not be underrated. Chris Powell had a great game: I just hope that one day he will score. The return of Richard Rufus reminded us what an important contribution he makes. It was good to see Shields get a start and he did well, coming close to scoring. Brown had a couple of anxious moments, but in general he has established himself as a player who can perform consistently at premiership level (as Steve from Sidcup observed, there is an interesting contrast between his career trajectory and that of Shaun Newton). Kinsella had a good game, although perhaps he was overshadowed by the excellence of Stuart. Robbo came into the game more as it went on. Jensen had a chance to score, but let the keeper save. He seemed to tire as the game went on. Svensson showed some excellent touches with the ball, but missed a gilt edged chance to score. Johansson scored his eighth goal of the season and was generally impressive. Todd was competent and capable when he came on. Lisbie made a difference when he came on and perhaps Svensson should have been substituted earlier. Salako only had a few minutes, but used them to good effect.
Juneau the Soccer Cat awards the Hiss of the Match to all the whingers on the list who during the week have been predicting defeat against Bradford, calling for Curbishley to go, slagging off Deano etc.
As it was my wife's 60th birthday I thought it might be a good idea to post a picture of our granddaughter, Victoria Candelent in her CAFC baby grow. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. I should say that when I first saw she was in a 'little Saint' outfit, thought to be the work of her godfather, Joe the Saint.
A late fightback by Charlton turned what threatened to be a rout at Villa Park into a respectable defeat. After Charlton had gone 2-0 down in the first half, Dion Dublin gave them a consolation goal late in the second half. Before that, they had had a penalty appeal turned down just after the restart, while substitute Keith Lisbie missed a good chance to score. Most of the match was played in conditions of torrential rain.
On the day before the match we learnt that we had won a Sports First competition for two VIP tickets to the Villa match. This was particularly good fortune as the 28th was my wife's birthday. We also ended up on a table with four other Charlton supporters. After lunch in a rather gloomy, cavernous and anonymous banqueting room, my wife was invited up to have her photo taken with Villa's Lee Hendrie. This may not have been a good omen for the match. We made our way to our seats in the new Trinity Stand through a cloudburst. Inside the stand, waterfalls cascaded down at the front, while large amounts of water found their way through the incomplete roof. At half time there was a set to between supporters who had looked for drier quarters and stewards and the police. The normal dugouts were replaced by partitions with plastic chairs exposed to the rain.
Charlton tried to play a very defensive game in the first half. The result was that when the ball did get forward, there were no options available to take advantage of it. Villa looked the sharper side, winning possession more readily and finding more space, particularly on the left. It was therefore no great surprise when they went ahead just after the half hour.
Villa had look dangerous from the start, winning a corner in the third minute which led to a header at the far post. Then it looked as if Svensson might be through, but he was dispossessed on the slippery surface. Good work by Jensen won Charlton a corner on six minutes. This was quickly followed by a Villa corner which was cleared, as was another on thirteen minutes. Deano then conceded a corner going for a high ball, but the attempt was easily collected by the Charlton keeper. Deano was called to make one save from Joachim, but really there was little to note in the first half hour apart from further corners for each side which were cleared. On the half hour, JJ broke away down field, but he was entirely on his own and was crowded out by the Villa defence. Kinsella picked up a yellow card for a tackle on Dublin and then on 33 minutes Villa went ahead with an unstoppable header from Taylor making good use of an assist from Stone. Villa had look threatening on the left throughout the match, and the impressive Alan Wright turned provider on 42 minutes leading to a header from Merson that made it 2-0.
Immediately after the start a fierce shot from Stuart appeared to be diverted by the hand of Gareth Southgate. Mindful of the number of Villa fans in Banbury, Dermot Gallagher was deaf to the protests of the Charlton players and the roars from the Addickted behind the goal. Charlton did, however, get a corner and for a moment it looked as if Carl Tiler's pressure might be too much for David James who had to scramble for the ball. There was new hope for the Addicks on 53 minutes when Charlton won a free kick just outside the box, but Jensen's powerful shot went just over the bar. There was always a danger that Villa would score a third and on 60 minutes a Villa break gave Merson a chance to put in a powerful shot which went just past the post. Jensen then made a long run of defence, putting the ball into Johansen who won a corner. However, the corner kick went straight into the hands of David James.
It was clearly time to change things around. Somewhat surprisingly, Chris Powell, who had been one of the better Charlton players, was pulled off for Paul Konchesky, but perhaps it was thought that the youngster would be able to use his pace to create things. A somewhat disgruntled Robbo was taken off in favour of Lisbie who immediately started to create things. Too often, however, when something was created, the Charlton players up front looked too static. There was a surprising reluctance to run into space to create opportunities to use the ball. Moreover, Villa were still looking threatening. They broke after another faltering Charlton attack. The corner looked dangerous, but it was bravely and effectively cleared by Steve Brown. A Villa player was booked on the other side of the pitch, bit it was impossible to see through the curtain of rain who it was.
After 73 minutes it was decided to bring on Salako for the less than impressive Svensson. Villa pulled off Joachim in favour of Vassell. Mr Gallagher was becoming increasingly irritable and booked Taylor for a not particularly serious foul. Salako won a corner, but it was taken short, which invariably achieves nothing. James was, however, forced into a save from an on target shot by Kinsella. Lisbie was brought down by Alpay when he burst away towards goal. Alpay got a yellow card, but the potential scoring opportunity for Charlton was lost. Lisbie then won a corner for Charlton. The Addicks were stepping up the pressure and Dublin was forced into his own goal on 83 minutes. Paul Konchesky went for the ball in defence and was rewarded with a yellow card. Lisbie had what looked like a chance to score, but hesitated and his shot was deflected for a Charlton corner. Although the Addicks were looking brighter than they had all match, Villa were far from out of it. The on form Merson drew a flying save from Kiely and Vassell hit the post. Then it was all over and Charlton could not really complain about the result which sent them to tenth in the table.
Deputising for an indisposed Bob the Dog , assistant match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Steve Brown for a stalwart performance which it would be difficult to fault. Dean Kiely won't regard this as one of his greatest performances, but he wasn't helped by the defenders: the absence of Richard Rufus was noticeable. Andy Todd continued to impress, always looking cool, collected and totally reliable. After I wrote this, an E mail from John Window, who was behind the goal and therefore better positioned than I was in the building site stand, suggested that Todd should have stopped the first Villa goal being a free header. As Charlton rallied, he often pushed forward to good effect. Tiler had an inconsistent game, making some good defensive moves, but also giving the ball away dangerously at one point. Chris Powell was one of the more involved players. Hooch was quite surprised to see him substituted. Robbo was reasonably effective as a wing back (at least I think that is what he was supposed to be), but it was not one of his best performances. Stuart had some excellent moments, but often seemed anonynous. Kinsella had another game in which he showed energy, commitment and skill. Jensen tried one very hopeful long shot at goal which went well wide. He is too easily hustled off the ball. Johansson made some brave attempts, but generally lacked the service to do anything effective. Often he was isolated up front. Svensson showed some nice touches, but never looked like a real threat. Lisbie really unsettled the Villa defence when he came on. They didn't really know what to do with him. But he lacks confidence in front of goal and missed what looked like a golden chance to score. Konchesky was reliable and effective when he came on. Salako gave it his all and was able to create a few things as a result.Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the weather which was the worst since an away game at Swindon. We didn't have a roof then, but we were no drier under the Trinity Stand.
It was a day of culture clashes off the pitch and on it. My day started on the Metropolitana in Milano and ended on the Jubilee Line: three days of Milanese elegance and cuisine replaced by the more authentic delights of SE7. On the pitch it was a contrast between a Charlton team that tried at times to play attractive football and a team of northern giants whose play could be described at best at physical and at worst as dirty. This mixture was not aided by an inept and weak referee. However, the Addicks battled through to take all three points, the winning goal coming from Matthias Svensson.
Brian Cole announced at the start of the match that it was 'Play Fair' day, but fair play was not much in evidence. It has to be said that the first half was probably the worst forty-five minutes of football I have seen at The Valley this season. Middlesbrough were poor, but Charlton were just as bad and the 0-0 scoreline at half time was greeted with a certain relief by the Addickted. The 3-5-2 formation, or whatever it was that Charlton were playing in the absence of the injured Richard Rufus, did not seem to be working. Boro were being given too much space to advance on the Charlton goal.
There was very little action in the opening ten to fifteen minutes of the game. The home crowd was subdued and in that sense seems to becoming more like other Premiership crowds. Robbo did look as if he might be on for a break, but the referee called the ball back for a free kick. New Boro signing Eghiogu limped off after five minutes, having apparently knackered himself, leading to a chant of 'What a waste of money.' The first half chance for Charlton came after ten minutes when a Chris Powell free kick was met by a Tiler header which was not too far off target. Charlton got their first corner after fifteen minutes, to no effect, then it was Middlesbrough's turn. The ball was played out and an effective piece of football by JJ over by the East Stand touchline allowed Charlton to break. But then 'Boro were on the attack again. Deano punched the ball out to deal with a shot from Ince, but it was not properly cleared. A goalmouth scramble enused: Ricard's attempt was dealt with by Deano and the moment of tension ended with the ball rocketing just past the post from a shot by Deane. Then it was the unlikely figure of Chris Powell who was one-on-one with Crossley at the other end: not suprisingly, no goal resulted. Deano made a good stop, then MacDonald was through on goal. He was cynically tripped by Festa who received a yellow card for his pains. The resultant free kick came back off the wall.
As the half moved towards its end with a dreariness that matched the low clouds and drizzle, Stuart made a run but shot wide. With 'Boro on the attack, Deano could have kicked the ball clear, but foolishly chose to pick it up. The referee ruled that it was a back pass, giving 'Boro a free kick in a dangerous position. The shot was blocked, but 'Boro won a corner. In the closing minutes of the half, Campbell made two blatant dives in a desperate attempt to win 'Boro a penalty, but these attempts at cheating were ignored by referee M Riley. These episodes can't surely be the basis of Robson's subsequent claim that his side was denied a penatlty? Popular Paul Ince then shot past the post for 'Boro in what looked like a scoring opportunity. Robbo won a corner for Charlton at the other end and it was the turn of Todd to put the ball past the post.
Charlton made a good start to the second half, looking less than a collection of players with only a superfical acquaintance with each other. A corner was won in the first minute, but Claus Jensen's ball was too high. Another corner followed a few minutes later, but the move ended with a free kick awarded to 'Boro. Charlie MacDonald put in an excellent cross, but there was no one to connect with it. However, 'Boro continued to look dangerous on the break, one such attack being expertly snuffed out by the efficent Todd. Kinsella got booked for dissent. 'Boro then got a free kick and the referee made use of the ten yard rule to enhance their chances. One of the worrying aspects of the game was a reluctance by Robbo, who was playing in a position similar to that he occupies for Wales, to take on the giants of the Boro defence. It has to be admitted that both Fleming and Gordon are very useful players. The Bloke Behind Me was in overdrive by now, forecasting a 'long hard winter for Charlton'.
Curbs was determined, however, that a little ray of sunshine would break through the clouds. Some twenty minutes into the half MacDonald, who was getting hustled off the ball by the physical 'Boro defence, was replaced by Svensson. A good build up saw Stuart break through, but he was under pressure and his shot missed. However, the Addickted did not have to wait long. A Charlton free kick over on the left near the West Stand was curled in by Claus Jensen and a Svensson header saw the ball in the back of the net on 70 minutes. The delighted ex-Palace player ran to receive the acclaim of the Covered End and his goal was greeted by genuine delight by the rest of the Charlton team.
A Boro corner simply allowed the Addicks to break, but then 'Boro were on the attack again. Steve Brown was felled off the ball by Hamilton Ricard and required treatment, but the retard's actions brought no action other than a free kick from the referee. However, moments later when Svensson committed an admitted foul down by the East Stand touchline, the referee immediately produced the yellow card, although Ince also got booked for dissent. Ricard was then pulled off before he got sent off, being replaced by Marinelli. Deano was called on to make a save. Both sides now made substitution. For 'Boro Karembu was pulled off to be replaced by Whelan. he below par JJ was replaced by Salako, although quite what the tactical plan was remained unclear.
Charlton were increasingly forced into their own half and a move starting with a 'Boro free kick drew a good save from Deano. A throw in released Salako who only just missed. As Charlton tried to hold up the ball with four minutes of injury time announced, a near brawl broke out by the corner flag. Charlton won a free kick, but 'Boro returned to the attack. A 'Boro corner brought a new attack of nerves to the Addickted, but Keily dealt with the threat. Charlton survived to take all three points, denting Boro's impressive away record. It may not have been as emphatic as the 8-1 victory over 'Boro I remember from 1953, but it was probably more important, leaving the early season relegation favourites 7th in the table.
In this picture taken before the Manchester City game at the start of the season, Curbs and the writer of this page were looking forward to the season with optimism. And we still are. It's still early days, but the signs so far are encouraging. Grinding out 1-0 wins at home may not always be pretty, but it is what is needed to stay up. Thanks to Tom Morris for permission to reproduce his photograph.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Claus Jensen . He may not be much of a tackler, but he showed superb control of the ball at times and provided the assist for the goal. Deano kept a clean sheet, but made an unusual error with the back pass incident. The two errors made by Tiler were greeted with a cry of 'Tiler's back' from the Bloke Behind Me, but he made a number of effective defensive interventions. Steve Brown could not be moved at the back, despite some physical attention from 'Boro. The third member of the back three Todd did a quiet but effective job. Chris Powell was his usual efficient self. Stuart came close to scoring, although this was not his best game. Kinsella was as inspirational as always. Robbo had a rather indifferent game in his unfamiliar position, often seeming reluctant to take on the 'Boro defence and missing chances to push forward. MacDonald's relative lack of Premiership experience showed when it came to dealing with the 'Boro defence. Johansson missed two chances to go forward when he was played through by Stuart, but not was expecting the ball and lost it. He was below his best. The S-word has been unpopular at Charlton, various supporters being only too willing to expound on the uselenessness of the two ex-Palace players. However, Svensson's physical presence and aerial ability was just what was needed to turn the match. Although Salako did not sparkle as much as at Leeds, it was a capable performance.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has spared match officials for a few weeks, but directs a very loud hiss at the inept and inconsistent Mr Riley from Leeds. Apparently, a documentary on the assessor was being made at The Valley. It would be interesting to know what he thought of the refereeing.
The scale of the loss may have been only slightly better than when they last visited Leeds, but Charlton can consider that their 3-1 defeat at Elland Road was a honourable one. The scoreline would have been a more respectable 2-1 if it had not been for a last minute Leeds goal that came when ten man Charlton were pressing forward. And if a Charlie MacDonald header had not just missed the target they might have drawn level at 2-2. This is not to deny that Leeds were clearly the better side on the day, and that two ex-Charlton players, Lee Bowyer and Danny Mills, played key roles in the defeat of their old club.
Charlton's attacks in the first half were rather tentative and the Addicks were only kept in the game by Deano. It was no surprise when the pressure from Leeds eventually told to put them 1-0 ahead by half time. Leeds continued to dominate in the second half and went 2-0 ahead. Claus Jensen pulled Charlton back to 2-1 and the arrival of John Salako in place of Kevin Lisbie revived Charlton's spirits and led to a storming close to the match. Unfortunately, an injury to Richard Rufus in the closing phase of the match reduced Charlton to ten men as all the substututes by then. The sight of Rufus limping away to the dressing room was a worrying one. In his post match comments, Alan Curbishley complained about the lack of action about the tackle on Rufus by Alan Smith and a failure to give a penalty for a challenge on MacDonald in the box. Even Leeds boss David O'Leary commented of the Rufus incident, 'What he [Smith] did he shouldn't have done and I've had another good chat with him.'
We joined the West Sussex minibus at Watford Gap. Unfortunately, Brian Cole had brought in a geezer who drives a hearse in his day job as relief driver and we trundled away up the motorway at fifteen miles (or was it kilometres?) an hour?
Both sides started the match rather cautiously. Chris Powell tried a long ball to JJ who almost broke through the Leeds defence. Charlton then had a spell of good possession but failed to make anything of it, which was to be typical of their performance in the first half. Six minutes into the half the first of a number of corners was conceded by the Addicks, Bowyer swinging the ball in, but Konchesky clearing with a header. Leeds then broke through, Viduka being one of the few players who has been able to repeatedly outfox Rufus this season. Deano made a great block with his foot, the return ball going past the post. A Charlton attack petered out with a below par Robbo cross. Charlton continued to display some neat approach play to the despair of the Blokes Around Me who were urging the Addicks to try a shot. Kiely had to come out to intercept after Konchesky gave the ball away. By this time Charlton were losing possession too much to Leeds in midfield. A shot was fired in with Kiely beaten but fortunately missed the target. At the other end Lisbie delivered a promising ball, but there was no one to connect with it.
A Leeds free kick was taken as a long high ball which Deano was easily able to collect. With the match increasingly coming to life, Deano mad a good save from Matteo. Leeds were given a dubious corner when Rufus was pushed, and a shot came in but went past the post. By this time it was raining heavily. Bowyer was finding lots of space and Konchesky had to clear after he broke through. Lisbie put in a shot which drew the first save of the half from Martyn.
The first Leeds goal came on 38 minutes. Bowyer glided in down the right, having once again been given plenty of space in which to operate. He passed to Bakke, who gave the ball to Viduka who in turn presented the ball to Smith. His incisive shot left Deano with no chance.
Charlton stepped up the pressure and JJ put in a cross across the front of the goal. He then severely tested Martyn with a shot that was tipped away for a Charlton corner. This was taken short and led to a poor ball by Robbo which went for a Leeds throw in. The last action of the half was when Chris Powell disputed a dubious throw in decision by referee Mr Dean and was booked for dissent.
The rain had made the pitch very slippery by the time the second half started, but Leeds set out to attack from the kick off. With the ball given away once again, Bowyer put in a shot which went just past the post. In contrast, Charlton's attacks were too tentative and too easily broken down. One Charlton attack ended in a break by Leeds and a corner with the shot just going over the top of the bar. One trick Leeds were using to great effect was long angled balls to Bowyer who continued to be given the freedom of the pitch by Charlton.
As the quarter hour mark was passed, Charlton started to look more effective. Stuart put in a shot that was turned away for a corner. Kinsella put in a powerful shot which was unfortunately directed straight at Martyn. Jensen then put in a good cross and JJ drew a good save from Martyn. There was then a worrying moment at the other end when Deano rushed out his area to challenge for the ball, winning it and forcing a throw in.
Curbs made his first substitution on 69 minutes with the jaded Robinson replaced by Charlie MacDonald. Martyn cleared the ball upfield but collapsed with a knee problem and had to be taken off and replaced by Paul Robinson. This might have been thought to present an opportunity for Charlton, but it was some time before the reserve goalkeeper was required to do anything. Instead, Leeds took the pressure off themselves by scoring a goal within two minutes. Fluent work by Matteo and Bowyer produced a cross from Smith which Viduka elegantly dispatched into the back of the net.
MacDonald caused Robinson some trouble with a shot after a Charlton corner had not been cleared. Deano was called on to make another save and then on 77 minutes Konchesky was replaced by Shields while Lisbie was taken off in favour of Salako. From this point, Charlton's standard of play improved considerably. In Shields they had a natural right back, while Salako was able to appear in space down the wings; outwit opponents; and put in excellent crosses and corners. JJ put in a shot that went just over and a Charlton corner was followed by a Charlton corner. Excellent work by Salako produced a corner which he took quickly and fed to Jensen. The Dane put in a superb dipping shot from an angle which was reminiscent of Mortimer's consolation goal when we last visited Leeds.
Game on. Deano had to make a diving save. Rufus was injured, went off, came back on and had to go off again. Deano made a save, but the ball came back in and hit the crossbar. Then it was nearly 2-2. Salako fed the ball with pinpoint accuracy to MacDonald who put in a header which I felt was sure to go in, but missed the target by inches. With Rufus off the pitch, Charlton were vulnerable at the back. Harte must have thought he was on the Yorkshire moors when he had all the space in the world to put in a cross which Smith put across the face of goal, allowing Viduka to score his second goal. The Leeds attack was certainly lively and too much for Charlton.
As we waited outside the minibus, a number of Leeds fans congratulated us: 'I hope you stay up', 'You've got a good side there', 'You played some nice football'. Easy to say when you've won, but genuinely meant I think. We might have hoped for a point, but we were better than two years ago. As Vern from Stenying commented, next year we might lose by 2-1 and draw the year after that.
A tough call on Man of the Match for analyst Bob the Dog
Ace match analyst Bob the Dog has not found it easy to award the Silver Bone, but eventually decided to give it to Mark Kinsella for a performance that showed him to be unaffected by his international efforts. Deano can't be blamed for not saving the three goals and made some vital saves which kept Charlton in the game. No doubt I will get some indignant E mails about this, but Konchesky can be a worry. He is a good player, but is playing out of position. Chris Powell once again showed why he is the first choice for left back, outfoxing Leeds on the wing more than once. Rufus for once came up against opposition that he sometimes found it hard to cope with. But he is an essential component of the team. Let's hope his injury is not too serious. Brown played a number of simple defensive balls which did what was required to get Charlton out of trouble. Stuart looked more than once as if he might be the player who would unhinge the Leeds defence. Jensen scored a great goal, but sometimes it seems as if he is too easily hustled off the ball or does not have quite enough pace. Robinson was reported to be limping when Wales played against Poland and he seemed not to have fully recovered. He was rather hesitant, playing the ball backwards when he could have gone forward. Lisbie made some good moves, but ultimately lacked the authority to unhinge the Leeds defence. Johansson often looked threatening, but was not at his very best. MacDonald added a real threat up front when he came on. Shields showed that he knows what a right back has to do and should start. Salako was a very pleasant surprise, contributing a great deal to Charlton's effort.
Juneau the Soccer Cat did not take such a negative view of the referee as Curbs. She has given the Hiss of the Match to the jobsworth steward who challenged the credentials of photographer Tom Morris when he was scanning the crowd for his many friends.
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Before home matches