Northern match analyst Hooch the Pooch will be providing coverage from Middlesbrough. Please go to Volume 10
Charlton's 2-2 draw with Coventry at Highfield Road meant that, particularly given Manchester City's win at Newcastle, the Sky Blues' chances of taking a Nationwide tour next season were increased. With Leeds and Leicester winning, Charlton's hopes of taking a European tour next season slipped somewhat. One way of reading the match would be to say that Sasa Ilic was the weakest link and let in two goals he should have saved. An alternative explanation is that the Addicks failed to take their chances when they were 2-1 ahead to make it 3-1 and put the game beyond doubt. On the positive side, the match continued Charlton's unbeaten run in the League in January and February.
The massed ranks of the Warwickshire Addicks were supplemented by lister Kap Varma who had driven up from Forest Hill. The Addickted were in euphoric mood following the England call up of Chris Powell. When he arrived on the pitch for the warm up, he received applause that was so vigorous and sustained that it almost seem to embarrass him. Even the ref got into the act by going up to him to shake his hand. And when the match started there were chants of 'England's No.3'.
Although the opening minutes of the match seemed to be dominated by a succession of throw ins, it was soon evident that Charlton were taking charge. Mr Busy, Matthias Svensson, won an early corner. The ball was played out to returning captain Mark Kinsella. He blew away the cobwebs with a fierce drive from some twenty yards out which required all Hedman's goalkeeping skills to turn away. The Charlton corner was delayed while an injured Sky Blue was treated and then good work by Jensen won a third corner.
But then Coventry's first real attack on nine minutes undermined the confidence of the Addicks. Quinn put in a hopeful effort from distance and Ilic spilled the ball, allowing Bellamy to put it in the net from close range. Jensen had a go from a distance in an effort to get Charlton get back in things. But then Svensson won another corner for Charlton. A goalmouth scramble ensued, with JJ's volley hitting the bar, but Rufus was able to take advantage of the confusion and equalise for Charlton (for a while it was far from clear who has scored.
We were reminded of the danger at the other end when Ilic spilled the ball again. There was some brilliant play in front of the Addickted by Kishishev, but it all ended in a Coventry free kick awarded by referee Halsey, the well known satellite of Planet Tring. Chippo was then rebuked for his foul play by Hertfordshire's finest, but the free kick led to JJ putting a shot over. Andy Todd showed his worth with a good interception. As the forty minute mark approached, Charlton won another corner, but it was cleared. When JJ was manhandled yet again, the referee simply took a quick whiff of methane, but when Rufus was brought down, a free kick was awarded on the edge of the box. With the wall only eight yards away, it was not one of Jensen's better free kicks and it went well over. The lino on the Charlton side then decided to get into the spirit of things by showing his facility with offside signals (although they were mostly justified). A great shot that went just past the post was so fast it was difficult to be sure who had delivered it, but I think it was Jensen. With Coventry making a break, Rufus made an excellent interception. An angled shot by Coventry went well past Ilic's far post.
The Coventry hospitality section was still filling up when JJ evaded the offside trap and make use of a good pass from the impressive Kishishev to score his fourteenth goal of the season, albeit it with some help from a deflection off the post. Referee Halsey awarded a dubious free kick and Ilic had to make a good save to prevent a Coventry corner. Graham Stuart found himself advancing on the Coventry goal without support and decided to have a go, but his shot went wide. Before Coventry took a corner, referee Halsey had a word with Rufus and Hartson about the way in which they were expressing their mutual admiration. The corner was partially cleared and then Stuart made a good challenge to avert danger at the expense of a throw in. On 55 minutes Charlton nearly went 3-1 ahead with a great shot from Kinsella, but Hedman, who is one of the better members of the Coventry team, made a fingertip save at the expense of a corner. The corner itself was easily saved. With JJ wrestled down again, a free kick was awarded to the Addicks some forty yards out. The ball came off the wall and Coventry broke down the wing, but the impressive Kishishev stopped it at the expense of a throw in. Mastermind Strachan decided that it was not working for the Sky Blues who seemed unable to play as a team. On 59 minutes Chippo was pulled off in favour of Aloisi whose name has been linked with a possible return to Portsmouth. The popular Australian was roundly booed by the Addickted.
Charlton remained very much in charge of the match, but seemed to lack the determination to get a third goal. At least the defence in front of Ilic was functioning well and Feesh stopped another break by the Sky Blues. Then on 67 minutes Hall played in a ball from the left, Ilic went down too early and a scuffed shot from Hartson trickled past Charlton's keeper into the net. This was the most difficult period of the match for the Addicks as it was clear that the home fans thought it would only be a matter of time before it was 3-2. JJ had an attempt, but Hedman saved with no great difficulty and then Jensen put in a shot that was well over. There was then a worrying moment when Ilic was caught out of his goal, but the danger passed. Rather unusually, capable Andy Todd gave the ball away and the result was a Coventry corner which was partially cleared. Ilic then required treatment after receiving a facial injury from Hartson.
Coventry were starting to get in more shots, although they still lacked sufficient accuracy. There was a scramble in front of Ilic's goal on 72 minutes. Hartson's shot was blocked, but Carsley played in David Thompson who took his shot quickly and saw it go wide. On 79 minutes the tiring Kinsella was replaced by Newts. Kishishev put in a good shot which deflected off another Charlton player. Hedman spilled the ball for a Charlton corner but Jensen's effort was easily caught. On 82 minutes Hartson played in Thompson again, but Feesh cleared the shot off the line. Kishishev then played in the ball to JJ who was one on one with Hedman. This was one of Charlton's best chances to collect all three points, but his shot was just over. Stuart was effective in stopping a worrying Coventry break. Their throw in led to another wild shot from a side looking increasingly desperate as the prospect of trips to Grimsby and Stockport loomed. On 88 minutes Jensen was pulled off for Konchesky and then on 90 minutes JJ was replaced by Lisbie. A despairing boo went up from the home crowd as it was announced that there would be only two minutes of time added on.
We would probably have settled for a draw beforehand, but one was left with the feeling that we should have beaten a poor Sky Blues side rather than drawn with them for the second time this season. How much the outcome was down to Ilic will no doubt be a matter of debate among the Addickted over the next week. And for us relegation for Coventry would mean we would no longer have an away match on our doorstep.
It was a good all round team effort by the Addickted and a difficult decision for match analyst Bob the Dog in choosing who should receive the coveted Silver Bone. There were a number of candidates, but in the end it went to Radostan Kishishev who contributed considerably in attack and defence and showed touches of real brilliance. Some blame must attach to Ilic for both goals, although he gets little credit from the Addickted. He took the ironic cheers that greeted his successful attempts to catch the ball as indications of heartfelt support. Rufus had an excellent game. Apart from the occasional error, Feesh and Todd were stalwarts in the defensive lineup. Disappointingly, it was not one of Chris Powell's better games. He didn't seem to get forward as much as he usually does. Kinsella made a superb return. He was clearly up for it and came close to scoring twice. His return seemed to give more scope to Stuart to contribute in different parts of the pitch. Jensen put in a good performance, although remains open to criticism for his reluctance to tackle. Johnansson was back to his old sparkling form after his return from injury. Svensson was a strong candidate for the man of the match, showing tremendous commitment in both attack and defence. Konchesky looked very effective when he came on and might have been brought on earlier. Newts did his best to use his pace, but did not really impress as an unquestioned premiership level footballer. Lisbie had a cameo role.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the idiot Sky Blue who ran on to the pitch after their first goal. He was actually given a pat by a Coventry player.
There was much speculation on the list towards the end of the week about what the Addickted would be doing on their football free Saturday. Cheeky lister Rob Stallard even asked website writer Mick Collins to preview his weekend for him, although it seemed to involve changing the tyres on his wife's car and clearing out the spare room. Vivacious Sue Allen from Thamesmead had a session of spring cleaning scheduled, while Joe Dray was reported to be wielding his paintbrush.
For me it was time to take my black and gold scarf out of the cupboard and make a short trip to the New Windmill Ground in Harbury Lane to see the needle derby match between Leamington [Brakes] and Deano's old team, Leamington Hibernians. Buying a copy of the fanzine Windmill Wonderland on the way in we learnt that a Brakes keeper in the 1970s was a Mervyn Day lookalike. As kick off approached, spaces along the railings filled up as the crowd reached the several hundred mark, along with several dogs including a German Shepherd and a pit bull terrier. With such a crucial match, the Bear (serving Shakespeare Country and the Vale) had sent a reporter. In the absence of a press box, he had to wander up and down the touchline with a clipboard and a mobile phone. I was reminded that I was watching the Midland Combination Division Two when the officials came out. Two were auditioning for 'before and after' adverts for Grecian 2000, but the biggest shock was to discover that one lino was in fact former Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler.
It was soon evident that the home side were better at playing the ball to feet and they put together some fluent passing moves. However, Hibs had a number of useful players. Vernor Sheen kept penetrating the Brakes' defence down the wing, while Stuart Wirlihy showed real skill. Also impressive was Tuscue De-Costa. A group of Academy trainees from Midlands clubs standing near us informed us that he was approaching forty.
It was twenty minutes before the first goal came for the home side from captain Brian Agar. However, fourteen minutes later the ref gave a penalty for a shove in the area and Delroy Brown stepped up to make it 1-1. A voice from the crowd urged on the Brakes, 'They're crap Leamington, play football.' The Academy players near us thought that the standard was low, but the support was great. If the Brakes were promoted they would have to sign some better players, perhaps one of them?
Three minutes after the equaliser Brakes' star player Josh Blake rounded hapless Nigel Haydon, no Deano, in the Hibs goal to make it 2-1. Short tempered Hibs player Andy Hood was informed by a section of the crowd that 'You're losing it' whereupon he approached them with threatening gestures. But referee Horton clearly thought that he was the man to calm things down through sweet reason and no card was produced. Leamington were tending to sit back on their lead and Alex Lewis was able to equalise five minutes before the break. Just before the whistle went, consistent referee Horton, who showed an unerring ability to get in the way of the ball, failed to give a penalty for an incident which was the equivalent of the one at the other end of the ground.
The picture shows Brakes playing against Earlswood Town earlier this season. The North Bank behind the goal is a favourite gathering point for the 'Barmy Army' (including the fiercer dogs among the support) and is seen as successor to the notorious Whitnash End at Tachbrook Road.
Brakes came out determined to accelerate and the Barmy Army, who had shifted to the North Bank were not disappointed when Brakes made it 4-2 within five minutes of the resumption, both goals coming from Brian Agar, with the second an easy tap in to complete his hattrick. A few minutes later it all went off in the top corner. My view was obscured by the dugout, but Hood received the red card he had been looking for throughout the match, while one wearer of the Intercounty Scaffolding shirt was yellow carded. As a clearly angry Hood tramped past, he advised me to '**** off', a close contact with the players that is missing at The Valley.
Blake then played Baz Shearsby in for what looked like an easy goal, but the midfielder just missed. Blake was then just over with a shot. But then with useless goalkeeper Nigel Haydon following his usual practice of charging out of his area, Blake deftly rounded him and presented the ball to Agar who tapped it into the back of the net. With a one-on-one, Blake had the chance to make it 6-2, but the mercurial striker's shot bounced off one post then the other. 'That's more like Josh Blake', said the Academy players.
Nevertheless, at 5-2 it looked like game over but Hibs managed to pull one back through Kevin Antrobus. As chants of 'Barmy Army' rang round the ground, Leamington pressed forward for a sixth, but their shots on goal became increasingly wild and inaccurate. Both sides were starting to tire and one Leamington player went down with cramp. Another three points towards Leamington's bid for Division 1, while Hibernian confirmed their reputation as one of the highest scoring teams in the league. For us it was a long wait in the car park to get into Harbury Lane, but we still had the unusual experience of being home from a football match by 5 p.m.
Brakes' Director of Football, Dave Draper, has reason to fill pleased at the team's progress in their first season after being reborn.
Newcastle may be a much bigger club than Charlton, as Bobby Robson pointed out in his post match apologia to the Geordie diaspora, but it was the Addicks who dominated Sunday's match against the Magpies. Goals by Matthias Svensson and Shaun Bartlett enabled the Addicks to complete the double over the Geordies. While Newcastle headed off for a supposed well deserved break at La Manga, Charlton's players could feel satisfied that they had now achieved forty points, the supposed Premiership survival level, with plenty of games to spare. Before the match confident members of the Toon Army were singing 'we're going to win in London', but this ambition was to remain unfulfilled yet again. Although Newcastle stepped up the pressure in the second half after they had gone 2-0 down, Sasa Ilic was rarely troubled in the Charlton goal. Robson complained that the Charlton strikers never gave his centre halves a chance to settle on the ball. Welcome to Fortress Valley!
With Curbs having received his presentation on the pitch to mark 500 games as Charlton manager, it was Newcastle who created the early opportunities. Feesh was called on to make a good interception. A Newcastle corner was well blocked by Stuart, but the ball was played back in again. However, the second corner was overhit to the other side of Ilic's goal. Charlton then had a corner which offered a chance to Rufus but his header went wide. Matthias Svensson put in an excellent long ball from the Charlton left to Bartlett, but Given in the Newcastle goal was just in time to deny him. A break by Graham Stuart led to Chris Powell putting a cross into Svensson. Some of us thought that his header had gone in, but in fact it was just wide. Then it was the turn of Stuart to be provider for Kishishev whose shot was just wide. A good cross was converted by Bartlett but Given was able to play his header on to the post and the return ball went wide. Fish conceded a corner, but the kick went out of play before it even approached the near post. Scott Parker then picked up what seemed to be a rather harsh yellow card given that he had been going for the ball.
Then Charlton started a superb build up which involved no less than seventeen passes. While the Bloke Behind Me bellowed 'too slow', Kishishev nutmegged Lee. Powell then put in another of his excellent crosses from the left. This was headed by Bartlett in the path of Svensson who used his left foot to volley into the corner of the net on 37 minutes. Given was then called to punch the ball over and Svensson was just wide from the Charlton corner. A threatening Charlton attack was effectively dealt with by an excellent intervention by Rufus.
Charlton's second goal came just six minutes after the first. Charlton broke down the right when there was a handball offence for which the lino flagged. Referee Paul Durkin had a sudden fit of good judgement and waved play on. While a number of Newcastle players looked on in disbelief, Svensson crossed for Bartlett who put the ball under Given. Newcastle players remonstrated with the referee, but he checked with his assistant and gave the goal.
Newcastle attacked, but Rufus cleared. As the half went into three minutes of injury time, Scott Parker broken through. He should have put the ball wide, but instead put in a weak shot at Given. With Newcastle pressing to get back into the game, Rufus delivered a superb tackle to deal with the danger.
Charlton saw off any Newcastle plan to get back into the match in the opening minutes of the second half. Newcastle attacks were broken up with calm efficiency and Jensen got in a shot which went just over. On 59 minutes Acuna was pulled off in favour of Gallacher. A dubious Newcastle free kick was comfortably saved by Ilic. Good work by Scott Parker saw a chance for Shaun Bartlett but the alert Given saved. Sasa made a good save from a low shot from Ameobi. A couple of Newcastle corners presented little danger. Then a shot across goal led to a Newcastle corner which Ilic cleared from a half punch.
Andy Todd seized an opportunity to put in a shot from forty yards out which was only just over. There was then a worrying moment when Ilic hesitated in the face of a Newcastle attack and the ball had to be cleared away by a defender. With Toon making little impression on the Charlton defence, Robson decided to pull off Solano in favour of the lively Lua Lua. Rob Lee received a warm ovation as he was replaced by some bath salts, otherwise known as Bassedas. With Lua Lua on the pitch, Newcastle started to look more fluent. On 77 minutes Bartlett was pulled off in favour of Johansson whose return received a warm reception from the Addickted. Barton and Svensson were booked for a tussle, having been warned about their relationship in the first half. Lua Lua continued to look threatening, but received excellent defensive attention from Rufus. On 83 minutes Kishishev was taken off in favour of John Robinson. In injury time, Scott Parker was taken off in favour of Kinsella who received an enthusiastic reception from the Addickted. Newcastle had a late corner and there was a final save by Sasa from Gallacher, but the three points were secure. Towards the end of the match the Covered End had start to sing 'We're going on a European tour.' Such optimism may be a little premature, but the result left Charlton seventh and level on points with European pretenders Ipswich.
This was such a sparkling performance by so many of the Charlton players that ace match analyst Bob the Dog found it difficult to decide who should receive the Silver Bone. Bobby Robson paid particular tribute to the Charlton midfield when he commented 'they put their foot in, ran through us, tackled us and harried.' Foremost in this respect was Scott Parker. Goalkeeper Sasa Ilic was not troubled too much by a lacklustre Newcastle, but he made one good save. The England manager was at the match (Steve from Sidcup got his autograph) and Richard Rufus will have done his chances of a place no harm by an excellent performance. He was well supported in his task by Feesh and Todd . Chris Powell displayed once again his ability to penetrate the opposition defence. Kishishev received a standing ovation when left the pitch and it was another performance which combined skill and determination. Charlton fans continue to have their reservations about Jensen but this was another performance which showed that he is a player of real skill. After fading a little in the last couple of games, Stuart had an excellent game, making some superb linking movements. Opinions about Svensson continue to be divided. Steve from Sidcup reckons that he is not a team player in the Charlton mould and is too inclined to deliver balls intended to impress into empty space. However, his goal scoring rate is improving. Bartlett also has his critics, but his goal was well taken. For Johansson and Kinsella it was really a chance to play themselves back in. Robbo showed plenty of effort when he came on, but did not really provide the skill on the wings that had to some extent been missing from an otherwise excellent Charlton performance.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to the Bloke Behind Me who announced his return by keeping up a continuous torrent of moaning about the team's performance throughout the match, reaching a particularly despairing whine as he lambasted Curbishley for his ineptitude.
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Three goals scored in the second half of the FA Cup tie against Spurs effectively ended Charlton's chances of a promising home tie against Stockport. The Addicks had gone 1-0 ahead in the first half with an eleventh minute goal from Chris Powell, his first ever for Charlton scored against the club of which he has been a lifelong fan. When Svensson made it 2-0 four minutes into the second half, it looked as if Charlton had booked a passage to the quarter finals. But then Rufus added to the own goal he was recently awarded by the Dubious Goals Committee on 58 minutes, putting Spurs back in the match. They seized their opportunity with goals by Anderton on 62 minutes and Leonhardsen on 63. Ilic can be blamed for at least the crucial equalising goal which got in past his outstretched hand and showed a worrying tendency to stay rooted to his line. Charlton then battled hard to get back into the match, but as it increasingly opened up, the Addicks lost their shape. It was therefore no great surprise when Rebrov made it 4-2 on 82 minutes.
Reading the programme, I was surprised to see that the Spurs fan who had been invited to comment forecast a 3-2 win for the North London side. This seemed unlikely given last weekend's goalless draw and the 1-0 win for Charlton at The Valley earlier in the season. But in fact it was not far wide of the mark. Spurs at last ended their goal drought, leading to chants of 'We want Graham in' on the bus back to North Greenwich. Brian Cole drew attention at half time to the lucky omen represented by the '4747' ticket that had been drawn in the jackpot draw, perhaps forgetting that a year ending in '1' supposedly favours Spurs. Superstition aside, Curbishley had himself drawn attention to the virtues of solid defensive play in his programme notes and, as he admitted later, conceding three goals in five minutes reflected a simple lack of professionalism. As the Bloke in Front of Me said at the end of the match, 'There can be no excuses.' As we walked away from the ground, a group of hopefuls were chanting 'We're going on a European tour', but in fact next Sunday's match against Newcastle suddenly looks like a much bigger task.
With a smaller crowd than that against Dagenham assembled to watch the magic of the Cup, and the Spurs fans in the Jimmy Seed stand in full voice, the evening started brightly for Charlton. They took the game to Spurs and on three minutes Kishishev put in a good ball to Bartlett, but he shot at Sullivan in the Spurs goal. Parker went in, but the goalkeeper successfully challenged the young midfielder. Then it was Jensen's turn to burst through, but the attack ended in an offside decision. The first Spurs attack ended with Rebrov blasting a ball way over the Covered End goal. Leonhardsen also blasted over. Then a goal kick by Ilic was met by a Bartlett header. The ball was put into the box by Svensson, allowing Chris Powell to forge in and head the ball into the back of the net past a waxwork like Sullivan. The Valley erupted at the popular left back's goal and Powell was book by officious referee Steve Dunn for over exuberant celebrations.
Svensson tried to make it two with a shot that was not far over. On 17 minutes it appeared that Feesh was fouled, but the decision went the way of Spurs. An Anderton corner was partially cleared but then Campbell put in a shot from 25 yards which Ilic tipped over the bar. The shot from the resultant Spurs corner was blasted over. Another Spurs free kick led to a corner. Todd was given a yellow card for a trip, then Freund went into the book for a foul on Jensen. Ilic dived to deny Anderton. Sherwood received a yellow card to help fill Mr Dunn's quota. Then there was a moment of danger when Feesh was beaten but Rebrov put his shot just past the post. A Charlton corner was won by Chris Powell, but it was cleared for a Spurs break with Sasa catching the ball. With the amount of pressure created by Spurs since the Charlton goal, the half time whistle was greeted with some relief by the Addickted.
Good work by Chris Powell created a Charlton corner. This was partially cleared, but it was played back in and Svensson seized his chance to make it 2-0. A Spurs free kick led to a scramble in front of the goal, but the ball was cleared. Scott Parker was provider for Svensson, but the shot was saved. Anderton broke free, but Feesh saved the day. Then it was Bartlett's turn to give Sullivan some shot stopping practice. Spurs then found acres of space on the right and with Todd evaded, Doherty put in a good cross which Rufus slotted home past a stranded Ilic. Svensson put in a shot which was just past the post. A Spurs attack produced a corner, but Luke Young put in a wild shot. Kishishev burst through and put in a shot that was saved. Referee Dunn then awarded what I thought was a doubtful free kick about thirty yards out and to the right of Ilic's goal as seen from the Covered End. There was no one on the line and a good shot by Anderton evaded Ilic who seemed to think this was his opportunity to model his waxwork for the proposed Charlton museum. There was still the chance of another visit to White Hart Lane to play for, but immediately after the kick off, Leonhardsen collected the ball from a richochet and forged forward, putting him a one on one with Ilic. The goalkeeper looked like a rabbit in the headlights and the Norwegian had no trouble in putting the ball in the back of the net. The turn of events had clearly got to Svensson who received a yellow card for his part in a scuffle, putting him one away from a suspension total.
Curbishley clearly thought that some sorting out was necessary and Kishishev was pulled off for Salako and Scott Parker for Newts. Around the half hour, Bartlett was taken off in favour of Lisbie. Chris Powell was allowing Spurs too much room on the wing. Todd put in a decent ball to Graham Stuart but the captain shot straight at Sullivan. Feesh foiled an attack. A Charlton free kick for a hand ball produced a corner for the Addicks, but it was comfortably caught by Sullivan. Then with Spurs winning the ball back in midfield, Rebrov put the visitors two goals ahead. A Charlton free kick was delivered straight to the keeper. A Feesh error gave Spurs the chance to make it a humiliating 5-2, but fortunately the shot was just past the post. Lisbie burst through, but hesitated in front of goal and missed a chance to make the scoreline a more respectable 3-4. Perhaps the one consolation was that Deano had indicated in a half time chat with Brian Cole that he should be fit for Sunday.
Controversial match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Matthias Svensson for a totally committed performance throughout the match, a well taken goal and a moment of sublime skill in the second half when he slipped in between three Spurs players to take the ball off them by the East Stand touchline. Those who argued that Deano would have to fight his way back into the team will have some explaining to after a substandard performance by Ilic which goes a long way to explaining why Charlton snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Kishishev had some good moments in attack, but looked less certain in defence. It was great to see Chris Powell score at last and he had some good moments in prising open the Spurs defence, but he let them have too much space to attack on the right in the second half. Feesh made more errors than usual, in part because he seemed unsure of his keeper. For Rufus this will not be a night to remember. Todd made some good interventions, but was outmanoeuvred for the equalising goal. Overall, it was a disappointing night defensively, and it has been a long time since that criticism could be made - certainly the reverse of Saturday. Stuart had a solid game, but failed to take advantage of one scoring chance. For me Parker looked out of his depth and I think that Kinsella would have marshalled the midfield more effectively. Jensen was accused by the row behind me of having brittle bone disease or a note from his mother, but it's not all about Route One football in the Premiership. Bartlett displayed some good ball skills, but never really came close to scoring. Newts made good use of his pace when he came on, but was unable to do anything to turn the game. Salako added relatively little value. Lisbie showed once again that he can't finish.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to over zealous referee Steve Dunn who also appeared to have forgotten to put his contact lenses in.
Charlton came away from the George Graham Palace of Varieties in White Hart Lane with another valuable away point which they fought hard for. However, had Shaun Bartlett not missed a golden opportunity to score, and had Claus Jensen's follow up been a few inches lower, they could have come away with all three points. This was Charlton's eighth match without a defeat and their fourth consecutive away match undefeated, a marked improvement on their performance away from home earlier in the season. It left the Addicks placed third in the Sport First Premiership form table. However, since the Manchester City triumph, the only goal scored away from home has been against non-league Dagenham and Redbridge and then by someone who was on the bench today. Against a poor Spurs side, one might have hoped for a Charlton goal. However, concern was perhaps focussed on the other end where Sasa Ilic gave a disciplined and professional performance in goal, albeit that he was not tested too much.
We met up with a number of other Charlton supporters at the Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street Station. When we got on the train we were puzzled that John Window was missing, as there was no first class, but then we remembered that the equine leisure magnate had parked his Mercedes at Liverpool Street and would be proceeding to the game in style. When we got there we faced a climb which was not far short of that at Newcastle, but I had come fully equipped to deal with any nose bleeds. Meanwhile, at ground level vivacious Sue Allen from Thamesmead was thrilled to see Carl Tiler warm up in front of her. The faithful were soon trying out a few familiar chants, but the massed ranks of the Spurs fans remained silent. Perhaps the awed hush was because they were reading the 'George Graham Talks to you' segment of the programme.
Charlton seemed to take a few minutes to settle down, but then on five minutes good work by Kishishev eventually saw the ball worked to Matthias Svensson. The Swede put in an excellent angled ball to Claus Jensen but the Dane just failed to connect. As ten minutes approached, Charlton had another spell of pressure and a Kishishev cross led to a Charlton corner which ended with nothing more than a throw in for the Addicks. Charlton continued to perform well in both defence and attack. Their passing was crisp and accurate while Rufus snuffed out a couple of counter attacks. Ilic was not being asked to do too much, but what he did do was competent and assured. On eighteen minutes Scott Parker put in a powerful shot from thirty yards out which was not that far wide.
Darren Anderton fouled Rufus but there was no booking. Spurs were showing a little more rhythm to their play. Andy Booth has been brought in from Division 1 relegation challengers Sheffield Wednesday, but he fired over on 20 minutes. Shortly afterwards Leonhardsen put his shot wide under pressure from Ilic. A foul on Claus Jensen on 29 minutes gave him the chance to use his free kick skills. The shot was on target but Sullivan moved rapidly across his goal to save. On 31 minutes a cross by Booth which looked for a moment as if might be dangerous simply went out of play by the opposite corner flag.
The attacks by Spurs led to such inaccurate finishing that it seemed that perhaps the only way they could score would be from a set piece. An opportunity came on 36 minutes with a free kick in a threatening position but Clemence simply hit it into the Charlton wall. With the Spurs fans remaining largely silent, the Addickted provided a chant of 'We want Graham out' followed by 'Graham is a gooner'. With Spurs getting increasingly desperate, Clemence tried a dive which was treated with disdain by housemaster Elleray. Scott Parker won Charlton a corner as the half came to an end. It had hardly been a feast of football.
A Spurs free kick soon after the re-start gave Anderton the chance to demonstrate why he would like a goal even wider than that which has sometimes been advocated in the States. Sullivan had to make a save from Svensson. Then from twenty yards out the impressive Kishishev put in a shot that was not far over. Bartlett put in a decent ball to Svensson but the Swede missed. Spurs were now passing more effectively and won a corner. The ball was played out but Freund managed to get a shot drawing the first real save from Ilic on 56 minutes. Chris Powell won a free kick, then the kick was moved forward ten yards and Anderton was yellow carded. A Jensen run won Charlton a corner, but the corner was a poor one and it was cleared easily.
On 65 minutes Graham decided to use a double substitition, pulling off Clemence in favour of Etherington and replacing King by Sherwood. Etherington's first contribution was to receive a yellow card for a foul on Todd. A promising Charlton attack ended with a disappointing cross from Stuart. Then came the moment when Charlton could have seized control. With Sol Campbell losing the ball, Bartlett found himself in a one-on-one with Sullivan. However, the keeper saved with his legs. Jensen collected the rebound, but his shot was over the bar.
With the home support showing for the first time in the game that they were not cardboard cutouts, Spurs stepped up the pressure. A dangerous looking cross was calmly collected by Ilic. Charlton were tending to give the ball away and Sasa had to save from Rebrov. Freund then put in a shot that was just wide. The sense among the Addickted was that Svensson should be pulled off for Lisbie, but it was Jensen who was withdrawn in favour of Salako. Svensson had a chance, but put in a wild shot. Chris Powell put in a nice aerial shot, but it was saved. Svensson put in a decent cross, but there was no one there to connect, then Stuart fired over. The worry was that Spurs might score in time added on, but with a scrumptous tea awaiting him in Harrow-on-the-Hill, referee Elleray decided to blow up. It was, as Curbs admitted, later a dour match, but rather that than Charlton surrendering away points as they did earlier in the season. Let's just hope it doesn't end in a draw on Wednesday because there are limits to my appreciation of the wondrous football talents of George Graham. Indeed, while the Addickted saluted their team, the hapless supremo was booed by those home supporters still left in the stadium. As we left the ground fire engines rushed to the ground: perhaps someone had tried to enliven the day by putting a match to Graham's posterior.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has decided to award the Silver Bone to Sasa Ilic for a faultless performance, albeit one achieved under no great pressure. Before the game there was concern that Ilic would take unnecessary risks to build a reputation, but he was a model of calm authority. The other contender was Rufus who put in another excellent defensive performance stimulating chants of 'Rufus for England'. In the absence of Feesh, presumably troubled by a recurrence of fin damage, Steve Brown put in an excellent performance. Todd was also very capable, appearing once or twice in attack. Kishishev came as close as anyone to scoring and was able to use his pace to good effect. Powell showed an ability to penetrate up the wing which might have led to something. Parker showed a worrying tendency on occasions to hesitate too much and lack of concentration led him to completely miss one promising pass. Jensen was not as oustanding as he was against Derby. Stuart had his moments, but never made one of his powerful surges from midfield which can lead to goals. Overall, I would give the defenders much higher marks than the midfield. Bartlett was busy enough, but failed to take his chance to score. Svensson was active in attack and defence, but gave the ball away on a number of occasions and never really came close to scoring. Salako did what he could down the wing, but there is a limit to what you can achieve in less than ten minutes.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the two or three people who tried to start an anti-Semitic chant which fortunately got no response.
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Block E, In front of The Bloke