Charlton's 2-0 victory over Queen's Park Rangers in the Worthington Cup at Loftus did not offer classic football, but it did not provide a good night out down the Bush. The win gave the Addicks the boost to their morale they need in advance of Saturday's challenging fixture at Anfield.
Joining the long queue of Addicks entering the ground, who must have made up at least a quarter of the sparse 6,497 crowd, I met up with fellow listers Richard Sheppard and Dave F. from Welling. Entering the ground, I noticed that the opposite end carried the injunction 'Make Yourself Heard', advice largely ignored by the subdued supporters of West London's 'Super Hoops'. The QPR mascot appeared to have something like a cross between a turnip and a liquorice allsort on his head, and one wag suggested that the resultant obscured vision was a good qualification to be the referee, but in any case it was a matter of waiting for the celery as we awaited the late entrance of referee David Elleray.
The Addicks lineup saw evergreen Keith Jones on in place of the injured Mark Kinsella, something which Curbs later revealed left substitute Paul Mortimer a little unhappy, a not unusual condition in terms of his relations with the Addicks' supremo. As expected, Richard Rufus returned from suspension in place of the Brighton battler Steve Brown.
The Addicks were clearly in attacking mode, although their first attempts were hopeful rather than accurate with Chris Powell firing high over the goal. The Addicks went ahead after fifteen minutes with Redfearn the provider for a goal from Newton. The legendary 'scarfman' was seen going ballistic in a side stand. The super hoops consoled themselves by laying into Mendonca, earning themselves two bookings in the process, and there was anxiety in the ranks of the Charlton faithful when it appeared that Mendonca might have injured his back. With half time imminent, the reliable and professional Keith Jones then put a ball over to Redfearn who tried an opportunistic strike from distance. This showed that it was often well worth having a pop as the ball rebounded off the bar, then off the keeper's back to make it 2-0 with what was really an own goal.
The Charlton faithful were hoping to see lots of action down their end after the break, but this proved not to be on offer, despite pleas on their part for 'the beautiful game' and 'sexy football'. Neither of these was on offer, but the Super Hoops redoubled their efforts, although they never looked very threatening with shots going well wide or promising balls somehow being hit into touch, although QPR did hit the post with one shot. The crowd had knocked back their Viagra during the break and somehow managed a few cheers, ironically echoed at the Charlton end. Robinson nearly made it 3-0 with a header utilising a Newton assist which went just over the goal. The once again tiring Robinson was almost immediately substituted by Mortimer who had plenty of chances to display his on the ball skillls. The next substitution was a suprise as when Mendonca went off it was anticipated that Steve Jones would appear in his place, but in fact it was Brighton's finest, Steve Brown, who appeared, Curbs apparently having decided to sit on the lead. Brown almost created a new record by getting himself booked within a minute of coming on. Rufus was pulled off in the 85th minute after picking up a booking and this time it was Steve Jones who came on. By this time the QPR were calling for the head of manager Hartford, the Charlton faithful joining in in the hope of claiming another managerial scalp to add to their growing list. And who knows what might happen after the return fixture at The Valley, although Curbs has reminded us that it's not all over.
Afterwards we went in search of a pub. The bouncers were reluctant to let us in at one noisy venue where free copies of the paper for Kiwis in England were available so we settled for the Firkin next door where a number of minor celebs from the Beeb were in evidence. We agreed that we would not like to be fans of the Super Hoops at the moment and the match did show that there is a gap in quality between the Premiership and the lower reaches of Division 1. Richard Sheppard then joined me on the train home as far as Gerrards Cross.
Match summariser Bob the Dog writes: 'The master was not back until 1 a.m. yesterday, but I waited up faithfully to hear news of the game. Although this is a satisfying win, I did think that we were still using the long ball too much. Even though some intelligent use was made of the width of the pitch to feed balls across to Robinson , I always feel that we are much better at a passing game on the ground (I would be happy to demonstrate myself how to keep one's nose to the ground). Balls hit into the air can and do go anywhere. Mendonca did not see much of the ball in this game, being heavily marked but Hunt showed some nice touches, although missing one early chance to score. Rufus showed why we have missed him and Powell displayed his usual calm professionalism. Youds wasn't in the game much, but Keith Jones showed why he is a good squad player. Newton had a better game than last Saturday, although it may be that he is more effective against weaker opposition. Ilic had little to do, although did dangerously try to play football in the box on one occasion. Robinson made some useful contributions, but once again seemed to be less than fully fit. Once again, the selection for the Silver Bone has to be between Redfearn and Mills . The former scored an excellent goal and was, as usual, combative and effective, but Mills made some excellent interventions and runs and was always in the game so it is Danny Mills who receives the Silver Bone. I give this match three woofs.
It was like the playoffs all over again was manager Alan Curbishley's verdict on Charlton's 3-3 draw with Liverpool after this roller coaster of a match which was surely the most exciting of the Premiership campaign so far. Curbs said that the Addicks were disappointed not to come away with three points, and they might have done if it had not been for a bizarre decision by the appropriately named referee, Mr Allcock, and some missed chances.
After walking Bob the Dog, the day started for me when I headed for the M40 junction at Warwick to meet the West Sussex branch's 'executive coach'. Unfortunately, they overshot the Warwick turn off and I had to make an undignified scramble down the M40 embankment to get on board. With the dependable and wisecracking Brian Cole at the wheel, and lister Vern and his wife, plus the Milners (snr, jnr and miss) among the party we headed through Birmingham and up the M6. Radio 5 proclaimed that if Aston Villa did not win at Leeds, Liverpool would go top, adding as an afterthought 'provided they beat Charlton.' Our status as a ' football coach' got us a parking place right by the ground.
Going to grounds like Anfield is what being in the Premiership is all about. Before the match the Liverpool supporters sang 'You'll never walk alone' almost reverentially and were applauded by Charlton fans. The announcer commented with some surprise that Charlton's players were numbered one to eleven, 'almost a record'.
Charlton started the game in a positive, attacking mode which they maintained throughout. Mendonca put in an early shot, as did Robinson, Redfearn (twice) and Kinsella with a shot that went narrowly wide. A strike from Berger was punched out by Ilic. One Addick won a 80-1 bet when the first goal was scored after 25 minutes from the head of Richard Rufus who jumped between two defenders to make the most of a free kick near the corner flag accurately targeted by John Robinson. Having turned down one penalty appeal after Rufus had made contact with Owen, Mr Allcock, taking a day away from managing a shopping centre at Redhill, then responded to the second such dubious challenge by making his special offer of a penalty to Liverpool which was neatly dispatched by the returning Fowler. Charlton were then under the cosh, but did not succumb as they had at Old Trafford and went in 1-1 at half time.
Despite this satisfactory score, there was a row in the dressing room at half time between Redfearn and Robbo, the latter complaining about the former taking long range shots when Robinson was unmarked. Curbs is quoted as saying, 'There was a bit of a fracas at half time. I told them "We're in this together. If you want to have a row we'll do it on Monday."'
After the break, Mendonca had a chance with a header that utilised a cross by Robinson. Having delivered a powerful strike at the goalkeeper, Hunt then had a second chance from the rebound which he put over the crossbar. The Addicks then went ahead after the impressive Danny Mills had a storming run from inside the Charlton half, but maximised the chances of scoring by selflessly passing to the unmarked Mendonca . There was then a bizarre incident when Robinson was fouled, recovered and put the ball through on goal for Hunt, but, as he bore down, the referee blew up so that he could administer a yellow card and give the Addicks the scant consolation of a free kick near the halfway line. Surely an occasion for playing the advantage? After these setbacks, Berger then got Liverpool back in it with a golden goal from 25 yards that left Ilic stranded. A cross from Owen then led to a mix up in which the prone keeper managed to lose the ball in a goalmouth scramble with the subsequent goal credited to Fowler. This was probably the low point of the match for the Charlton faithful, but then working class hero Steve Jones came on and in a little more than a minute headed in Charlton's well deserved equaliser. An accurate Newton cross produced a Mendonca header which went wide, giving Charlton their last chance to collect three points.
As the West Sussex coach headed southwards, there seemed to be far more Scousers on the road than Addicks, suggesting either that there is a large Liverpool disapora or that the club collects its share of glory boys (probably both). On Talk Radio, Danny Baker was busy looking for the smelliest supporter in Britain. One member of the party thought that he sighted the much liked Sweaty Balmer heading south on the motorway from Wigan after participating in his new team's win at home.
Match summariser Bob the Dog writes, 'We were back to playing our classic passing game today, keeping the ball on the ground as much as possible rather than hoofing it up the pitch and making full use of our width. It's a difficult choice for the Silver Bone award, but it goes again to Danny Mills who was constantly in the game in defence and attack. Another contender was Richard Rufus for his goal and his authority in defence.
Ilic made some good saves, although Liverpool's third goal may have been avoidable. Powell was always in command of his flank and often went forward, creating the free kick that led to the first goal. Youds delivered a far post header from a corner just after the break which only just missed the target. Kinsella played his usual captain's game until he went off injured. Some thought that Newton's poor crossing meant that he should be substituted, but he did get one good cross in at the end of the game and he provides cover for Mills when he goes forward on one of his runs. Redfearn was at his combative best, fierce in attack and defence. Robinson was back on form again, making some great penetrating runs down the wing and setting up the first goal. Hunt badly needs a goal and would have got one but for the ref, but he gave the Liverpool defence a torrid time. Mendonca's goal were taken, although he did miss some chances. Some thought that Morts should have come on for the injured Kinsella instead of Keith Jones but the professional and dependable man from Wallington snapped at Liverpool's heels like the terrier he is, closing down Rednapp more effectively than Kinsella. It was great to see Steve Jones come on and score and he was clearly overjoyed. I give this match four woofs.
Stand in captain Eddie Youds scored his first goal for Charlton and put the Addicks ahead in the 18th minute in this second leg Worthington Cup tie against QPR, reports Bob the Dog taking advantage of a live feed to his kennel. And that remained the score, with Charlton cruising into the 3rd round despite the disappointment of a missed Mendonca penalty in the second half.
Paul Mortimer replaced Newton in the Addicks line up, and Mendonca and Steve Jones played up front with Hunt out with a touch of 'flu. On the back of their first league win in six months, Rangers started brightly. The first of five yellow cards in the first half came after five minutes for a late challenge by Mortimer on Slade. A Rangers free kick from 25 yards out went through the wall and ended up in the side netting. A second free kick ended up with a Rangers corner which came to nothing. A second corner was headed away by Mortimer and then after thirteen minutes Youds was booked for a late challenge on Slade. A third Rangers corner ended up weakly in the side netting.
The Charlton goal came from a free kick on the right from Robinson which Youds headed downwards into the net. Gallen was then booked for a late challenge on Rufus. On twenty-five minutes a shot from Redfearn from twenty-five yards out went just over the crossbar. A shot from Mortimer fired in from an angle called up a good save from Harper in the Rangers goal. On 33 minutes a 20 yard right footed drive from Mills went just wide. A challenge by Maddix on Mortimer in the 40th minute brought another yellow card. Then Scully missed a chance with a high and wide shot that gave the Rangers fans in Row Z a feel of the ball. Redfearn then shot left-footed from the edge of the box, producing a good save from Harper. After what the Covered End thought might be a penalty for the Addicks after a challenge on Mendonca, Charlton finished the half with their second corner from Robinson.
Charlton opened the second half with another corner as the five hundred or so Super Hoops in a crowd of 11,726 started to get on the back of their team. Three minutes after the re-start Steve Brown was brought on in place of the injured Rufus. A Mortimer free kick from twenty-five yards out evaded the five man QPR wall and went just over. An impressive Mortimer run then came to nothing. As the Addicks sung 'You're going down with the Palace', Ilic made a good save from Scully off a Peacock cross, then Youds cleared impressively in front of goal. Robinson was needlessly booked after throwing the ball away after being picked up for a handball and was almost immediately replaced on 57 minutes by Newton. With Barraclough making a rash challenge on Keith Jones, Harper saved from Mendonca in the 67th minute by diving to the left. QPR then making two substitutions, switching to a 4-2-4 formation and a long ball game in a charge of the light brigade. Steve Jones turned his marker and hit the post and Allen came on for his first team appearance of the season in place of Mendonca. He put the ball into Redfearn, calling forth another good save from the increasingly impressive Harper.
There was a penalty call from the Hoops on the basis of claims that Ilic had brought down one of their strikers, but in fact it was a case of demonstrating what one does with one's swimming pool. Steve Jones then missed a great chance when he was one on one with Harper, putting the ball over. Allen tried to weave some magic in the box in the closing minutes, but was smothered by the QPR defence. One was more than enough on this occasion, although the yellow cards collected are a worry for Curbs. For QPR, the fact that Vinnie Jones was attempting to choreograph their efforts from the touchline renewed speculation that Harper may be the latest manager to fall to the curse of the Addicks. I give this match two woofs.
The Silver Bone award goes to Eddie Youds. Apart from the impressive Youds, this was a good night for the midfield and defence with the competitive Redfearn in the running for the Silver Bone. Mortimer sparkled, Mills was once again excellent and Powell was effective. If there were any disappointments it was up front, although it was good to see Bradley Allen contribute during his brief appearance.
The Coventry Evening Telegraph had billed the Sky Blue's visit to Charlton as 'entering the Valley of Fear', but it turned out to be the Valley of Disappointment after the Addicks managed a 1-1 draw with the relegation Houdinis. Charlton had fallen 0-1 behind, and for a while it looked as if City might win against the Addicks away for the first time since 1967, but the day was saved by a first goal for the Addicks from Andy Hunt.
It was a muggy day and the crowd at the RoD spilled out on to the pavement. We met someone who comes from Stoke to all home matches, making our trek look like small beer. On entering the ground, we were puzzled to hear that Neville Chamberlain was on the pitch, as he had not been seen at The Valley since the days of the Munich agreement, but it turned out to be the secretary of the Avon Insurance combination who had come to present Charlton with a variety of awards from last season, rather than a return from the dead of the man who looked at life through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe.
The Addicks started fiercely and it looked as if Mortimer might have made a goal in the first minute with a fine cross which just missed the outstretched leg of Andy Hunt. It was the first of a series of near misses for the Addicks, with Redfearn putting in a shot from distance that the impressive Hedman had to stretch to save. However, the absence of wide man Robinson, who had apparently suffered a thigh strain, undermined the Addick's performance which relied over much on balls down the middle and the unsure presence of Mortimer. After the first quarter of an hour, Coventry got back into the game, sometimes assisted by some bizarre decisions by the assistant referee on the East Stand side. Coventry manager Strachan, however, was far from satisfied with some of the decisions and was seen leaping up and down on the touchline until the referee went over to have a word.
The Coventry Kids were more than satisfied to go in 0-0 at half time. Newton, who had to be helped off the pitch after a clash of heads in the first half, was pulled off two minutes into the second. Newton's pace had been useful and his replacement, Keith Jones, had a 'mare of a game. Then Whelan put Coventry ahead with a goal taken at a sharp angle which, however, revealed gaps in the Charlton defence. Whelan subsequently hurt himself when his celebrations brought him into contact with an advertising hoarding. Coventry looked as if they might put the game beyond doubt, but then Andy Hunt was given a chance by the Coventry defence to put the ball in at a sharp angle in the penalty area. The Coventry keeper had been abusing his defence throughout the match, and redoubled his invective as the Addicks stepped up the pressure, although the Sky Blues always showed a capacity to threaten on the break. Although a late corner brought hope to the Charlton faithful, this game was a story of missed chances for the Addicks, not something one can afford in the Premiership.
Bob the Dog has awarded his Silver Bone to Andy Hunt . Quite apart from his goal, his overall commitment and contribution was excellent, particularly his lay offs. Mendonca had a more subdued game, in part because he had one and sometimes two markers in close attendance. Redferan had two excellent long range shots at goal and I think that it is well worth his taking half chances. Kinsella was contributing in defence as well as in midfield. Newton had some great runs, but the final cross still sometimes lacked conviction. Nevertheless, he was missed when he had to be taken off. Mortimer has some great skills, but he gets dispossessed too easily. He does not seem to be quick enough or physical enough to cope with many of the players he comes up against in the Premiership. Keith Jones was brought in place of Newton and was expected to play out of his usual position. Sadly for this skilled and dedicated player, the result was pretty disastrous, with some very poor passes. Youds once again did what he had to do, confidently and aggressively. Rufus showed good anticipation and positioning and was rarely caught out. While Mills was perhaps not as prominent as in some recent games, he showed once again why he is so effective coming forward. Powell was a model of professional control and once again showed why he was such a great buy for Charlton. Ilic seemed to be taking some unnecesary risks at times. Some of his goal kicks were misdirected and he should perhaps not try to hoof it quite so far down the field so that it sometimes becomes an easy ball for the opposing keeper. Steve Jones looked as if he was going to come for Hunt, then eventually replaced Mendonca in the closing minutes of the game, giving him little chance to show what his combativeness could contribute. I give this match two woofs.
A rampant Charlton powered to their first away victory in the Premiership, and their first win at Nottingham Forest since 1975. There was a stark contrast with last year's 5-2 defeat in the Nationwide with Forest looking poor on and off the ball, but it was the tenacity, determination and skill of the Charlton players that showed them up.
I think it was lister Joe Dray who said in the Rose of Denmark when we were playing Forest at home last year, 'Well, we'll be playing this lot again next year, but it will be in the Premiership. As I put on my ecru shirt, I reflected that I had never seen Charlton lose in this shirt, but I had never see them win either. Could the Addicks prove today that they could rise above an away draw?
On my arrival at the City Ground, I noticed Sussex coaster Brian Cole accompanied by lister Vern. Immediately in front of them was Rick Everitt. Contrary to recent rumours, he was not dressed as a cat, but was wearing his customary stylish leather jacket. Before the match we were treated to a playing of Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding Through the Glen , allegedly as a salute to Forest's departing finance director. I did think that the electronic instrumental music Forest played before kick off did help to build up the atmosphere.
As at Anfield, Charlton set out their stall immediately, pressing forward. A corner produced the first goal of the day in the Premiership, with Eddie Youds finding the net for his first league goal for Charlton. It may have been opportunistic, but it was just what was needed. Subsequently, Mendonca hit the post after an impressive penetration of the Forest defence and Redfearn put the rebound over the crossbar. Forest were unable to raise their game and seemed to have problems with the width of the ground, given the number of times they were putting the ball out of play. Their main ploy seemed to be the offside trap, in which they were abetted by one of the linesmen. Charlton fans were singing 'You're worse than Crystal Palace' (particularly relevant given the presence of a Palace reject), but I wondered if I had wandered into Notts County by mistake. The referee evidently felt he had to even things up, giving a foul for virtually every Charlton tackle. Kinsella displayed some beautiful turns and new signing Carl Tiler showed that he is an effective header of the ball. However, despite a Hunt run at goal when he was not able to convert a half chance because of the angle, the score remained at 0-1.
Hunt had a chance to score in a one-on-one situation just after the break, and then Forest fluffed a chance by sending the ball over the crossbar. Forest looked more determined, if hardly more skilled in the second half, and Charlton had to defend with all the talent and commitment at their disposal. Chris Bart-Williams, who had been displaying a few tricks from his Book of Soccer Skills (not!) was substituted by the Forest. Sasa Ilic had to make two key saves from Forest centre half Chettle. It was announced that there were three minutes left to play, but the referee managed to make it the longest three minutes in football history in a last minute bid to give Forest a chance to even the score. But Charlton were more than a match for them and took away a well deserved three points. It should be noted that the Charlton support was in as good voice as I have heard them and the few times the Forest came alive received ironic applause.
At the station I spotted lister John Window already on the London train, although Rick could not be seen alongside him in first class. Strange, given their rapport. John made some typing signs at me through the window. On Mellor on the way back, there was some discussion of what was wrong with Forest, but no mention of what was right with Charlton. An armchair fan from my home town of Leamington came on to say we shouldn't take football too seriously, it was only a game. Well, you can stay in your armchair in the Spa, mate.
Match summariser Bob the Dog has given his Silver Bone to Mark Kinsella for his all round contribution. Ilic put at rest recent worries with a controlled and effective performance. Chris Powell showed his skill in the wing back role, as did Danny Mills with more penetrating runs. But in at least one case he should have had a go himself rather than waiting for support. Mills picked up a harsh yellow card, as did Tiler who showed the combativeness and dedication we need. Rufus does his job so well, you hardly realise he is there and deserves one of his favourite Japanese meals for this performance. Youds scored an important goal and Redfearn mixed it and got a yellow card as a result. Mortimer once again displayed his ability to carve through defences in a way that no one else in the team can, but his final cross was often not good, and he once gave the ball away in a dangerous position again through playing fancy football. Keith Jones was brought on in his place to shore up the defence (not that it needed it), but played a subdued role. Mendonca displayed his on the ball skill, but showed his frustration with himself at one missed scoring chance. Hunt was always busy, but showed less skill at times than one might hope for. Steve Jones was hustle and bustle in his brief appearance, but little else while Steve Brown was confined to a cameo role in the dying minutes of the game. I give this important victory four woofs.Volume 3 here.Volume 4 here.
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