This volume is pretty full so our Sunderland report will appear at Volume 3 . There's actually a little story about Redfearn on there already.
When Charlton went down to a home defeat at The Valley, they sometimes used to play the Monthy Python number Looking on the Bright Side of Life. What can Charlton take away that is positive from their 2-1 defeat by Newcastle United at St.James's Park asks Westcombe Park Addick Paul May ? My list is:
But there are quite a few negatives as well:
It was early doors for me even from Westcombe Park. The stairs at St.James's were a test for my beer gut and I needed refreshment when I got to the top. Good job I don't suffer from vertigo. The far end goal must be a good quarter of a mile away from the away seats. There was a near capacity crowd, but what surprised me was how quiet they were.
Charlton were playing 3-5-2 with Rufus, Fish and Rowett across the back, Newcastle stuck to 4-4-2. There was an early scare when Shearer evaded Fish, but Rowett came to the rescue at the expense of a corner. An Euell run ended in a debatable offside decision. The home side won a free kick in a dangerous position, but Solano's effort went across the face of goal, Deano palming the ball away. On fifteen minutes, Robert overhit a Newcastle free kick. Then Deano had to palm away a Robert strike over his crossbar. Speed put a header in, but eventually Fish was able to clear away with Shearer claiming obstruction. With twenty minutes gone, Newcastle had had a corner almost every three minutes on average and two more followed. They were excellent corners and No.8 saw a header from Speed hit the post and go across the front of goal. Pressure continued and eventually Euell had to clear. Charlton were imprisoned in their own half, but somehow they managed to soak up the pressure.
Then on 31 minutes Charlton managed to go ahead, admittedly helped by a mix up involving O'Brien in the Newcastle defence. It was Jensen who started the move and Bartlett who finished it with an effort from about fifteen yards out which went to Given's left. Within seven minutes, Newcastle had equalised with Griffin the unlikely hero for the second time in a week. The No.4 shirt put in an excellent shot from distance which went into the top corner between the crossbar and post, giving Deano no chance.
A great run by Scott Parker allowed him to put a good ball across the six yard box, but there was no one there to take advantage. Then a chance was missed when Claus Jensen turned provider for Bartlett. But although he got through, he didn't look too confident (although admittedly he was under pressure from a defender) and Given was able to save. In injury time, Jensen took a chance and put in a curler, drawing a good save from Given. Still 1-1 at half time wasn't bad.
Early in the second half Robert shot from distance. This shot called on all of Deano's skills as the ball bounced awkwardly just in front of him. Rufus and Shearer were having a right old ding dong. Then on 60 minutes Robert got free on the left and was able to shoot and put the ball under Deano. 2-1. Almost immediately, Euell broke away, but he had the ball on his weaker left foot and scuffed it slightly allowing Given to make the save. A Newcastle free kick gave Robert a chance to try and set up Shearer, but Luke Young put in a good challenge. Solano made Fish look as if he was out of water, but Rufus put in a good challenge.
Corner number thirteen for Newcastle. Luke Young headed out, but the pressure continued and Deano had to make a good save, tipping the ball over the crossbar. Fish cleared from the corner. A long throw from Fish bounced off Euell and gave Bartlett a chance which was just wide. A run by Euell set up only the third Charlton corner of the match. In a crowded goalmouth, Fish had a chance, the ball was played back to Bartlett, but his effort was blocked by a Magpie on the ground. Newcastle were able to break from this effort and as Charlton pressed for the equaliser they were in danger of going two behind.
Robbo was pulled off for Blomqvist who moved into the left wing-back position. This enabled Luke Young to play in his more natural right wing-back position. Ameobi put in a good left footed shot which drew another good save from Deano. Shearer tried to turn provider for Robert by putting a ball across the front of goal to him by the post, but Charlton had a lucky escape when he knocked it back the way it came. Griffin picked up a yellow for a foul on Blomqvist from refree Andy d'Urso, the banker from Billericay. Luke Young was pulled off in favour of Kishishev.
By this time I was starting to lose hope. It was getting scrappy and Charlton were, understandably enough, resorting to the long ball. Or they were passing it around at the back because they couldn't see a way through. Curbs played his last get out of gaol card and replaced a tiring Scott Parker by JJ on 86 minutes. Newcastle made two substitutions to use up some time. A free kick in a dangerous position was awarded against Blomqvist, but Bartlett managed to head Viana's effort away. A Charlton corner was cleared and then Rufus picked up a yellow card for a challenge. Jensen released JJ who won a Charlton corner, but it was all too late. I faced a long and gloomy journey back to my basement flat.
The following report has been submitted by a Mr Kevin Pratt from the Sidcup area. We accept no responsibility for its contents.
Charlton Women 1, Fulham Women 1. The Valley, Wednesday 23rd October.
Charlton, playing their first game at The Valley, at times flattered to deceive their West London rivals, Fulham Women. Fulham, fielding a team of pros, never looked like taking a dominant stance and wielding the big stick over their part-opponents, as they had done in previous encounters.
Playing with long balls their male counterparts are noted for, Charlton pressed forward through the Fulham channels for most of the first half, but were unable to prise an opening. Fulham, to their credit, were quick on the break, but their final thrust was always too early in a tight Charlton box.
The match was hard fought, with both trainers called into action quickly, where a swift application of foundation cream usually did the trick. Fulham, unbeaten for so long, were up against a stiff task and they knew it, relieved to get back to the dressing room at half-time for a cup of tea and a chat.
The second half saw Charlton's re-emergence with a continual probing and exploring their openings. The Charlton forwards again and again tested the flanks of the Fulham defenders. However, it wasn't until they penetrated the channel, and planted a perfect left foot shot into the bottom corner of the net. (But who scored, Pratt? Ed)
Charlton looked home and dry, they just needed to close up the ranks, get the washing in, and settle down for a 1-0 victory. Sponsor Andrew Mercer turned to the rest of the entourage (Do you mean a collection of soaks from the Rose of Denmark?Ed) and before you could say 'Does my bum look big in this?' Fulham had equalised. It was a clumsy challenge by the Charlton defence, with the ball spilling out to the Fulham winger, who set stride for goal. Pauline Cope, the Charlton keeper, usually the anchor of the team, took flight towards the forward with the angst of a trip to The Glades. With each stride a bigger gap appeared, which the Fulham forward exploited to score. Game over: 1-1.
Woman of the match - Rachel Yankey. Skill, speed and vision. Biggest backside - the referee. Both in personality and stature.
According to the match previews it was about as likely as George Bush inviting Saddam Hussein for a down home 'get together' on his Texas ranch. Nevertheless, thanks to a header on five minutes from Jason Euell capitalising on a Claus Jensen free kick Charlton managed to beat high flying Middlesbrough 1-0 at The Valley. A 3-5-2 formation, some changes in the lineup and the return of Scotty Parker, tested in the ninety minute clash on the banks of the River Nene on Wednesday, were enough to give the Addicks the edge. So tightly bunched is the Premiership Relegation League that the narrow margin was enough to propel the Addicks from 20th to 15th place, ahead of the Manchester 'Massives' tipped as European contenders at the beginning of the season. Charlton's performance was better in the first than in the second when one golden chance to make it 2-0 was missed. The closing minutes of the game were tense for the Addickted, but Charlton showed enough composure to keep possession. The team received a rapturous reception at the end of the game with Deano really fired up as he saluted the crowd.
For the first time ever as far as I can remember, the Charlton players went into a huddle before the game. I am rather suspicious of this kind of sports psychology, but I have to admit that it seems to have worked. The game had barely started when Boateng went down clutching a supposed injury and referee Mr Barry, who did not endear himself to the home support during the afternoon, awarded Shaun Bartlett a yellow card. I had just written the words 'quiet start' in my notebook when Charlton won a free kick on the West Stand side of the Boro goal. An excellent delivery by Claus Jensen allowed Jason Euell to escape his marker and head the ball into the back of the net. It had been nearly three hundred minutes coming but at last one side had scored a goal in an Addicks v. Boro clash, and it was the right one. Interesting to reflect that in the past these were high scoring matches, not least the 8-1 win over Boro in 1953-4 which helped to confirm my Addicktion.
Chris Powell managed to give the ball away, but Scott Parker retrieved the situation well. A Boro free kick on the West Stand side was defended well by Rufus and Boro got nothing more than a throw in. However, they kept up a level of pressure that reflected their position, but Feesh made the first of a number of good clearances. Parker managed to make his way through the Boro defence and the ball was just cleared for a Charlton throw in. Mustoe, who had been warmly greeted by the Boro faithful (later seen in force on the train to High Wycombe, recalling the play off final and the strength of Mackem support in Bucks) decided to have a go and won the Addicks a corner. That it might not be Boro's day was illustrated by a succession of attempts by a Boro player to put the ball across the field only to give the Addicks a throw in.
However, it wasn't just a case of Boro errors. Charlton were keeping up the pressure. Scott Parker was fouled giving the Addicks a free kick, but a header from Jase was comfortably saved by Schwarzer. A good cross by Robbo caused trouble for the Boro defence and with Euell threatening, the Addicks won a corner. Good play by Chris Powell released Scott Parker who burst through the Boro defence and put in an effort that was only just wide. Geremi, who I though was one of the more dangerous Boro players, was released in space on the wing, but made nothing of his opportunity. With a Charlton free kick giving Euell the chance to pass the ball to Bartlett, the half chance was squandered. There was great concern when Scott Parker was injured by what looked like a nasty tackle. Referee Mr Barry would not, however, even award a free kick. We live in an era when referees have their own agents, merchandise and even fan clubs and, perhaps thinking that there might be some sort of market at Charlton, Mr Barry yellow carded an indignant Robbie Stockdale for a foul on Bartlett.
With the break approaching, Boro tried to pile on the pressure. Chris Powell necessarily had to concede a corner to break up one attack, but Queudrue's effort went out of play on the other side of Deano's goal. With Geremi breaking away again, Chris Powell had to concede another corner. Queudrue made a great performance of fiddling with his socks before taking the corner, but all the effort earned was a free kick for Charlton. With three minutes of injury time added on, Bartlett miscued when he was presented with an opportunity to launch an attack. At half time a large crowd of former players came on to the pitch, including such legends as Derek 'Killer' Hales. Brian Cole's voice cracked, although whether it was because of emotion or an inadequate supply of cough sweets we shall never know.
Boro were looking for an early equaliser in the second half and Feesh had to leap into action to make a great clearance. A great move by Robbo created an early chance for Charlton to go 2-0 ahead, but the impressive Schwarzer saved first from Bartlett and then from Chris Powell. The Boro faithful launched into a chorus of 'the finest team the world has ever seen' which always seems odd when it doesn't come from a genuine world class team. Euell won the Addicks a corner through pressure, but the chance it offered was lost in a goalmouth scramble. Good work created another opportunity for the Addicks, but Robbo's header was just wide. Boro made a break down the East Stand side, winning a corner. It was cleared and Charlton were able to break through CJ and Chris Powell won a corner which was cleared. Scott Parker put in a good shot which was deflected for a Charlton corner. Schwarzer had to punch the ball out.
Boro decided to make a triple substitution, but within a minute of popular Noel Whelan arriving on the pitch he was yellow carded for a foul on Rufus. He then decided to exchange views with the East Stand, rather than getting on with the game. On 70 minutes Deano had to dive to his right to deal with a powerful drive from Greening, pushing the ball on to the post. A header from the Boro corner was only just over. With Mustoe down, Boateng received the yellow card he had been looking for throughout the game.
Charlton were starting to lose control of the midfield and the time had arrived for some substitutions. Scott Parker might have started to flag and was pulled off on 77 minutes in favour of Kishishev. At the same time Mustoe was taken off and replaced by Young. Boro won a free kick in a potentially dangerous position to the left of Deano's goal, but Deano made a good save from a dipping ball. From there on, it was just a matter of the minutes ticking away. The Bloke Beside Me is our timekeeper and the minutes passed slowly. In time added on, Charlton used their skill to keep possession and although Boro eventually managed to get a throw in towards Deano's goal, Mr Barry eventually blew his whistle. Three vital points had been won and the 'Curbs out' crowd had to wait for another day. Incidentally, with the attendance at 26,271, one can see the sense of spending money on the ground.
We decided to bring in lucky black labrador Homer the Cherry Hound as match analyst who was already visiting for the Rushden-Bury clash the day before. Homer has awarded the Silver Bone to Jason Euell not just for his goal, but for his competitive performance and skill throughout the match. Deano made two great saves which helped to secure the three points for Charlton. There has been much criticism of the money spent on Rowett but he looked calm and authoritative at the back. Rufus tidied things up at the back with his usual efficiency, although Homer is still not convinced that he is the right choice for captain. Feesh was widely criticised after the Fulham match, but he looked effective today, making one decisive tackle. There has been talk of Powell fading, but this was one of his more effective games. He looked good going forward. Does he play better when there isn't a confusion of roles with Konchesky? Robbo was as competitive and ever and showed some real skill at times, although he missed one chance to score and faded a little towards the end. Mustoe was not prominent but he played his part well. Jensen had a good game and even got in one tackle. It was good to see Parker lifting the midfield and worrying when it looked as if one tackle had injured him. Bartlett was the one player on the park who didn't look as if he was playing his full part. Kishishev and Young were on for too short a time to make much impression.
The Hiss of the Match has been given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the East Stand lino who had a very curious understanding of the offside rule.
Crowd rating: Lifted by the performance on the pitch, they got behind the team, although were somewhat quieter in the first part of the second half. For once, the away fans were out sung. 7/10.
Cash strapped Bury have included a player in their squad who won his place in an auction on the internet. Their team at Rushden on Saturday also included Charlton and Millwall reject Jamie Stuart, once known for living the high life in the fleshpots of South London, but now the proud father of a baby daughter. Rushden seemed somewhat deflated about their mid-week hammering by the Addicks, mention of which was omitted from the programme. Bury are exponents of the 'hoof it and hope' school of football, although the long and high ball is backed up by a fierce pace. It was therefore no surprise when 'Silly Billy' scored the winning goal for the Shakers on 45 minutes. Perhaps Brian Talbot will be wishing he did go to Ipswich after all. And I almost regretted the £10 I had donated to Bury's 'buy a seat' fund.
A Charlton XI played Rushden and Diamonds at Nene Park on Wednesday and won 4-0. The match was supposed to be 'behind closed doors', although Rushden's reserve pitch is in fact in the open - so you could watch the game while standing beside the River Nene. (For a picture of the main Rushden ground, scroll down). I don't think I am giving away any secrets if I say that the facilities at Rushden is a topic I have discussed with Curbs in the past, although I am sure that conversation had no bearing on this decision. Ironically, I am sponsoring the match ball at Rushden v. Bury on Saturday. Who's going to start the first 'Charlton to move to Northamptonshire rumour?'
That chant has only been heard at Charlton in recent years after the first match of the season, but it rang out from the North Bank at Harbury Lane on Saturday 12th. A 2-0 victory over Nuneaton Griff put the Brakes three points clear at the top of the Icis Midland Combination Premier Division with rivals Rugby Town going down 2-1 in a cup match. Only lack of money for additional facilities can prevent Leamington continuing their rise through the pyramid.
With no Premiership matches, I had taken up the opportunity of a vice-presidents' lunch before the game at the Windmill Tavern. Here we were joined by youngster Chris Hanrahan who came on as a sub later in the afternoon at the New Windmill Ground and local legend 'Bazza' (Barry Shearsby) whose previous clubs include Pottertons and Kenilworth Wardens. The overnight rain had been replaced by sunshine, but a strong wind was blowing and we hoped that it would not be coming from the direction of the chicken farm.
I got to Harbury Lane in time to go to the hut and collect my new Building and Plumbing Supplies orange shirt to replace the yellow one with the Intercounty Scaffolding legend. Nuneaton Griff had their origins in the Nuneaton Bible Class League, but in the year they moved from the Coventry Alliance to the Midland Combination they won the league title. They started vigorously and keeper Myles Day, not so long ago signed from Pershore Town after an impressive performance at Harbury Lane, was fortunately on form. Leamington's midfield often seemed to be missing from the action. Baz Shearsby had a golden chance to put the Brakes ahead but his shot went over the bar.
It was 0-0 at the break, but my morale was improved by winning the second prize in the Vice-Presidents' raffle. I positioned myself behind the goal at the North Bank end where the visiting side's beanpole like keeper was being teased with shouts of 'Mr Bean' and 'You've bean to London to see the Queen.' The hopeless bearded lino on the far side was also kept informed about his uselessness: 'Are you running, lino, or just leaning forward?' Leamington's superiority was beginning to show as they beat the visitors to the ball. On 53 minutes veteran Brian Agar (whose former clubs incude VS Rugby and Racing Club Warwick) had a tap in to put the Brakes ahead. The visitors kept up the pressure, winning a number of corners and testing Myles Day. Fortunately, Brakes went 2-0 ahead with a medium distance shot by combative midfielder 'Dazza' (Darren Timms) whose sister was a school friend of our youngest. Mr Bean then lost it and went outside of his area to tussle with Tommo. A free kick was awarded, leading to a Brakes penalty. Unfortunately, to chants of 'You're just a small team from Nuneaton', Mr Bean saved. Another blow was seeing striker Paul Nicholls stretchered off, although it gave a chance to Josh Blake who is returning from a long standing ankle injury. The Brakes go marching on.
Action in front of the North Bank at the New Windmill Ground
Charlton seem to have got into the habit of showing commitment and pattern for half of a game. After the first half, when they were 1-0 down to Fulham at Loftus Road and missed two golden chances to score, they were booed off by the Addickted. Whatever was said to them in the dressing room, they came out in the second half with a new fire and passion. But, although they came very close, they simply could not find the back of the net.
It might have been argued that a draw would have been a fairer reflection of the balance of the game. But getting a score draw would have involved ending Charlton's goal scoring drought. The team shows a lack of confidence in front of goal, which a few goals could probably end: a classic Catch 22. A point would have actually lifted them out of the relegation places. As it was, the Addicks suffered their first away defeat this season and a relatively rare away defeat in London.
As one of the three benefactor clubs in the Premiership, Fulham can afford players of real individual quality and skill to an extent that Charlton cannot. This showed in the opening minutes of the game, with Fulham starting with complete confidence. With the self-satisfied Mr Winter in charge, Fulham were given an early free kick against Robbo for obstruction. This was taken by Malbranque. Marlet's header hit the far post, came back on to this head and then went over the bar. The impressive Luis Boa Morte then turned provider and, with Rufus stumbling on the well watered pitch, Sava's header from close range ended up on top of the net. Boa Morte then put in a shot himself, but Deano was able to save it comfortably. Nevertheless, it soon became evident that Fulham were able to find a lot of space on the Charlton right, a tactic that was reinforced by the ability to deliver angled and accurate balls from defence.
Euell had a chance, but his effort went across the front of the Fulham goal. Deano was looking less assured than usual and he made a dangerous clearance to Chris Powell. Luke Young, on the other hand, was looking less tepid than usual and was well up for a header. A good build up involving Konchesky allowed Euell to put in a good cross, but no one was in a position to make use of it. As the twelve minute point was passed, Feesh put in a great clearance to the other end of the fabulous stadium that is Loftus Road. Bartlett should be credited for seizing a quarter chance from a difficult angle which was not too far off target. Boa Morte put in an angled shot that only just wide of Deano's far post. With Charlton continuing to find themselves under pressure, Chris Powell was a calm and effective presence in a goalmouth scramble. Marlet dived spectacularly after a collision with Feesh, but the penalty claim was shrugged aside by the referee. Charlton won their first corner of the game, but it was punched out. Feesh cleared well at the expense of a throw in. Charlton won another corner, but it was unproductive with a header going well over. A Chris Powell run enabled Jensen to have a go, but his drive cannoned off a Fulham defender.
Euell managed to get round Legwinski and Knight in the 35th minute to create an opportunity, but his shot was straight at van der Sar. Fulham had been on top throughout the half and got their reward a minute later. Malbranaque saw a chance from twenty yards. Deano managed to connect with the ball and push it out, but this simply gave an easy scoring opportunity to Sava. This being Fulham, the goal celebration had to involve an item you can buy in Harrods. Sava pulled a Zorro mask from his sock and strapped it over his ears.
The fear now was that Fulham would follow up quickly with a second. Placed under pressure, Luke Young conceded a corner, but the Fulham effort was a poor one and went out of play on the far side of Deano's goal. Konchesky was involved in some good play, but Euell was unable to turn it to his advantage. Charlton were too easily pressured and a Fulham attack surged through their centre, only for the shot to go wide. Robbo put in a decent cross, but the home side defended well. Then in injury time, van der Sar decided that it was the time for some Dutch humour and rolled the ball to Robbo, no doubt thinking that the Welshman from Zimbabwe was really a man of the polders. Robbo passed the ball to Euell, but he must have suffered a panic attack, as he failed to shoot or even to give Bartlett a chance, but gave the ball back to Robbo whose shot was easily saved by van der Sar. (Not all reports agree on what happened here and view from the lower tier at the other end of the pitch was not good. Some reliable reporters name Bartlett as the culprit, although the Press Association names Euell).
Charlton seemed to come up with more fight after the break, but it is skill rather than passion that influences outcomes in the Premiership. With Charlton now attacking towards the Addickted, Euell advanced but had the ball taken away from him by a posse of defenders. No one made use of a good Robbo cross. Euell had a chance four minutes after the break, but his effort was well wide. Charlton's movement off the ball continued to be disappointing and when they did have the ball there was often a lack of pace. Fulham broke away, but did as badly with their chance as the Addicks had done before the break. If nothing else, it reminded us that Fulham are not invincible. Euell did manage to turn and shoot at van der Sar from the edge of the box.
A Charlton corner led to an incident in which van der Sar, having suffered from an accidental elbow from Rufus, collapsed on the ground. An incensed Zat Knight completely lost it and it all went off. Knight was backed up his flat-mate Sean Davis. It was really handbags at six paces, although it got the Japanese tourists in the corner busy with their cameras. Although the Charlton players involved were as much sinned against as sinning, it was preacher and captain Rufus who received the yellow card from Mr Winters who patted himself on the back for the way in which he had sorted things out.
Konchesky was pulled off for Lisbie and Charlton's game seemed to go up a gear from then. The Addicks won a corner, although Chris Powell's effort went over. Fulham fought back and Feesh once again made a good intervention in a potentially dangerous situation. Luke Young won Charlton a corner and Feesh's effort was not far wide. A foul on Jensen gave the Addicks a free kick and van der Sar momentarily spilled the ball before Fulham recovered and cleared the danger. Rufus Brevett was using every opportunity to hold things up, producing a shout of 'Get on with it, Wurzel Gummidge', showing that some of the Addickted had retained their sense of humour in difficult times.
Luke Young really fought for the ball in front of the Addickted and put in a decent cross. Lisbie was fouled as he advanced on goal, but Mr Winters decided in his wisdom that the foul deserved a free kick on the edge of the box but not a yellow card. Jensen's effort was eventually cleared and then an effort from Fulham flashed across the face of Deano's goal. Robbo won Charlton a corner, but it was a very poor effort by Jensen. Meanwhile, the hotter than lukewarm Luke Young had been taken off in favour of JJ.
With six minutes left, Euell turned provider for Bartlett. Scoring should have been straightforward, but somehow the South African managed to hit the crossbar. Moments later van der Sar was tested by a Bartlett header. The hapless JJ managed to miss a promsing ball. Then the hitherto excellent Feesh gave the ball away. Deano had to make a great save from Inamoto which would have given the Fulham a chance to sing their ludicrous chant 'We're going to score in-a-moto.' It all went off the goalline as Brevett and Euell tussled and both received a yellow card. The Japanse tourists clearly thought this was what they had come for and photographed the indignant Addickted. One last effort by JJ in the form of a bicycle kick saw the ball finish up on the roof of the net. The Addickted warmly applauded the players for their second half efforts, contrasting with the fierce boos which had serenaded them at the end of the second half. One other positive was that Mervyn Day was not jumping up and down giving distracting instructions to the players, but was sitting on a wall in the sunshine when I observed him. Perhaps he has listened to complaints from fans about the value of his gesticulating.
On the way home I saw an advert in the tube saying 'learn Japanese'. No doubt this is going to be an increasingly necessary skill at Loftus Road. Perhaps Charlton's strikers would benefit from a course on how to shoot at goal. What was evident from two articles in the programme was that Fulham may not well return to Craven Cottage. Long-term supporters of Fulham may regret their Faustian pact when Fulham Park Rangers play at a new stadium towards Heathrow.
Match analyst Hooch the Pooch did not make himself popular in the press box by re-telling a joke about an Alsatian sending a telegram which had already appeared in the press and was in any case less funny for humans rather than dogs. Hence, he found little help on hand when he had to make his choice of the recipient of the Silver Bone. No one player had been outstanding, although a number of players had put in good performances including Chris Powell, Feesh and Robbo. Hooch was rescued from his dilemma when he found that the Silver Bone had disappeared. In its place was a packet of Harrods dog biscuits. It appeared that Mohamed Al Fayed had claimed the award for his half time penalty kick success.
Deano made a couple of good saves. Back passes from his defence invariably create nerve wracking situations and often lead to rather desperate clearances. Rufus really gave his all in his game, picking up a booking in the process. Fish re-joined the defence in place of Fortune and apart from one nearly disastrous error made a substantial contribution all over the pitch. Chris Powell had one of his better recent games, making some good runs forward and putting in some useful crosses. Luke Young also had one of his better games. He seemed to really up for it and contributed at both ends of the pitch. Konchesky was energetic, but not as skilled as he has been in some matches. We are enjoying an Indian (or Native American) summer and Robbo also seems to have found a new lease of life. He could rarely be faulted for energy and commitment, but he showed real skill with some of his crosses and potential assists. Mustoe has been hailed by some of the experts among the fans as a new saviour, probably because he is not Chris Bart-Williams, but he didn't make much of an impact on this game. Jensen was unusually combative, winning the ball off Fulham players more than once. He displayed pace and penetration, qualities otherwise much lacking among the Addicks. Bartlett came as close as scoring to anyone, but at other times he seemed error prone. Euell was really fired up and showed some outstanding skill, but not in front of goal where it was most needed, missing two chances to score. Lisbie made a difference when he came on. His pace down the wings started to ask the Fulham defence some questions. JJ showed once again that he is not the player he once was.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to cheating Fulham goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar.
Crowd rating: pitch announcer Brian Cole did his best to get some chants going, but didn't get much response. The Addickted were clearly nervous and frustrated and started to fall out among themselves. I had two junior moaners from the early years of primary school in the row behind me. Their expertise was clearly derived from their father who was clearly a lifelong whinger. I suppose you can say that at Charlton he has had plenty of opportunities to exercise his art. 5/10.
Rushden and Diamonds were rather fortunate to beat Leyton Orient 2-0 at Nene Park through two late second half goals by Duane 'who let the dogs out' Darby. However, the significance of the match for Charlton fans lies in the impressive performance of youngster Jamal Campbell-Ryce on loan to Orient from the Addicks. The Bloke Behind Me insisted on calling him 'Rice-Davis' (recalling Mandy Rice-Davis of the Profumo scandal), but this just showed what an impact he was making as Diamonds fan called for their defenders to clobber him.
As the game went on, Diamonds had to attach two defenders to the young winger, but he simply went past them to put in superbly accurate and well weighted crosses. His crossing ability is one of the strongest points of his game. At one point the match he took the ball from the halfway line, dribbled (how often do you see that these days?) past a succession of defenders to get in a shot which was just inches wide. Some of his wing play on the right was simply superb, although he also showed an ability to switch to the left when the match demanded it. At Rushden corners, he ignored Charlton practice and stayed well up the field with two defenders hovering round him. He is a slight, gangling player, almost Lisbie like in appearance, but he wasn't frightened to scrap when he was surrounded by defenders. He showed his speed in the first couple of minutes of the match when he simply burst away from the Rushden defence and put his effort just wide.
When Orient had a corner, he positioned himself by the far post, no doubt following instructions, where he was somewhat dwarfed by other players. At free kicks in front of goal, he held off to the right, no doubt waiting in case the ball came out again. At one point, he had to defend and did very well. His movement off the ball was also good, anticipating the flow of the game.
Like Jon Fortune before him, he must break into the Charlton first team sooner or later. What are the negatives? His shots on goal did go fractionally wide, although he has scored for Orient. His efforts are delivered along the ground: I do not think he would be much use in the air, although he may grow some more. He also faded a bit as the game went on: he may still need some more work on his stamina if he is to contribute over ninety minutes. But all these considerations are outweighed by the positives of his speed, excellent ball control and crossing ability. He was skinning the Rushden defence. However, there is a big difference between dealing with a third division side and playing in the Premiership. But it's nice to have some good news about a Charlton player. (His performance at Rushden attracted the attention of the excellent Non League Paper and I have placed their photograph at the end of the page.
Nene Park, the home of Rushden and Diamonds. Small prize for anyone who can say when a Charlton team played Rushden and what the score was.
Having failed to score in 120 minutes against third division Oxford, Charlton went down 6-5 on a penalty shoot out in the Worthington Cup at The Valley, writes Westcombe Park Addick Paul May.. Wyn Grant decided not to use his ticket for the match having forecast on the list that it would end as a penalty shoot out, so he asked yours truly if he would step in and write a report. This hasn't been easy, what with my day being affected by the tube strike.
Oxford started well, so I was told by the bloke in the next row. You wouldn't believe it, but I was actually late getting to the ground from Westcombe Park! I must sort my life out. The Addicks had quite a good spell in the middle of the first half, but the ball wouldn't go in the net. In part this was because we couldn't shoot straight to take advantage of some golden chances, JJ and Bartlett both being offenders. To be fair to Oxford, they defended well and their keeper, the suitably agricultural Woodman, made some good saves. In fact, I am told that one of the Oxford players, Jefferson Louis I think he's called, was discovered at Thame and is only on £90 a week. You could earn that at The Valley proving you're an incompetent in the Catering Department! Bartlett had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside. But as the game wore on, you could sense that Charlton weren't going to score. And Oxford started to create a few chances, one demanding a fingertip save from Deano. Extra time was pretty much the same story. Penalty shootouts are always a lottery, but you just knew that there were going to be some horrible misses from our lot. Not much of the Wembley spirit there, the body language of the players was all wrong. Talk about dreaming spires, the dreaming was by the Charlton players last night. Someone has got to sort it out and I'm glad it's not me. More later.
Nothing more has been heard from Paul May - but I will try and get the rest of the report out of him. He has probably lost the notes in the debris in his basement flat! Wyn.
I think Wyn Grant has a cheek talking about that flat like that. I know it's a tip, but when you lack female company .. Paul, please get on with the report. This is a football page not a lonely hearts column. No one is interested in your chaotic personal life.
So I get down the ground three minutes late and the Oxford have already had a corner and all our players are up there defending as usual, as if they were San Marino playing a top side or something. No one up the field to collect the ball and reduce the pressure. Paul Konchesky gives JJ a chance, but the hapless Finn couldn't stretch his foot out far enough. Kishishev makes a break, but Savage puts in a good tackle on Mustoe. Euell breaks, but Bartlett is on his wrong foot and couldn't take advantage. The Oxford fans are singing away and their team are defending well. We are playing three at the back: Rufus first on the left, then the right, Fortune and Fish. I think we are better with 4-4-2.
Rufus on the right puts in a decent cross for the first of so many Charlton corners. There is a Bartlett header and Rufus draws a great save from Woodman. The ball is cleared off the toes of Mustoe for a second Charlton corner. JJ's first touch isn't looking good. Nevertheless, he comes through on the right, Kishishev plays the ball in and Bartlett's effort is deflected for Charlton Corner No.3. Hurrah!
Kiely didn't come for the ball and Rufus has to put it behind for Oxford's second corner. Mustoe puts in a shot from distance, it is tipped round the post by Woodman for Charlton Corner No.4. The Dons are defending in depth, their gowns flowing behind them. On 19 minutes, Euell puts in one of the most promising efforts of the night which is tipped on to the post by Woodman. Charlton Corner No.5 JJ is beaten to the ball, Corner No.6. After a run by Bartlett, JJ fails to take an excellent chance from a few yards out, emphasising his total lack of confidence. Woodman fumbles the ball for once and it is Corner No.7, but a leaping Fish is beaten in the air. Oxford are closing Charlton down well and they are able to break. Fish has to make a great tackle to close down a dangerous situation in the penalty area. Bartlett puts the ball in the net, but he is judged to be offside. He made his run too early.
The Addickted are starting to get frustrated. They sense that this is going to be another Walsall or Dagenham and Redbridge. JJ puts in a good cross, but Oxford deal with it. Oxford are making use of the long ball. Charlton are engaging in patient build up play, pretty to watch, but with no cutting edge. JJ off balance puts the ball over. Scott, Rufus and Kiely collide and collapse in a heap. Stretchers are called for. Let's hope that Deano is all right. He's on his feet, but Rufus looks groggy. Good work by Bartlett wins Charlton a corner. Scott is replaced by some guy whose name I can't spell, but I think he played for West Ham once. Anyway he puts one six inches wide with Deano in trouble. Then he puts another shot just over. Deano is not a happy bunny. Charlton need more aggression and less beautiful football. A JJ run wins yet another corner, but Rufus misses. How many corners can you have and never make anything of them against a third division side?
JJ looks nervous coming out after the break, as well he might. Mustoe goes off and Robbo comes on. Rufus puts in a ball to JJ, the keeper gets a touch so it's another corner. Good work by Fortune, a good cross, but it goes into the side netting. Rufus is provider for JJ again, but his first touch lets him down. Then he puts in a poor pass to Kishishev. Get him off! On 53 minutes JJ sets up Bartlett, but there is little to choose between Finn and Springbok as Bartlett blasts over. A deflection from Fish gives Oxford their third corner, Jensen tries to create something, but failed to find Kishishev. There is a poor effort from JJ. Robbo puts in a ball that might be a cross or a shot, but is not really either. 'Can we play you every week' chant the Oxford. Hunt is just wide for Oxford. A counter attack with much better pace allows Konchesky to put in a drive that is just over. Fortune holds back the geezer whose name I can't spell back, but although he is the last man, he is moving away from goal, so Fortune escapes with a yellow. Bartlett is pulled off for Svensson, who we later learn is not a happy bunny at his limited role. But when did he last score?
Euell puts an excellent cross in in front of the goal, but JJ couldn't stretch out a leg. A feeling of deja view comes over me. Fish defends well under pressure. A Svensson effort goes over. Svensson wins a rather fortunate corner. Jensen delivers the ball to Robbo, but it goes straight into Woodman's hands. The game is becoming more open, but booing is heard around The Valley. Following an Oxford corner, Deano has to make a brilliant save from Crosby. CJ is through, but his right foot shot is just wide. Konchesky puts in a low ball, but Svensson and JJ cannot do anything with it and the ball is put behind for a corner. Robbo puts in a drive, but it is straight at the keeper. Fortune defends well and heads behind for a corner. It's a pinball situation in front of goal, but Svensson finally clears. On 84 minutes Ford gets through, but shoots straight at Deano. A Konchesky free kick is eventually cleared. Oxford break from a Charlton corner and are three against two but can't take advantage.
Extra time, more of this agony. Euell breaks, puts in a cross across the face of goal, but the keeper puts it away from a corner. Fortune defends well and JJ turns Crosby for the umpteenth corner. A tiring Feesh is replaced by Steve Brown. Has he put on a few pounds? A good strike by McNiven deflects for an Oxford corner. Kiely flaps at the ball, but gets it away. Jensen turns provider for JJ, but he is thwarted by the defence. A Konchesky drive is just wide. How many attempts can you have on gaol and not score? Charlton win their fifteenth and sixteenth corners. They could have won fifty and still done nothing with them. Rufus puts in an effort which goes straight to Woodman. Svensson puts in a ball to Robbo but he snatches at his shot. The Charlton players are looking tired and dejected. But then Brown puts in an effort from distance which surprises the keeper and is not far wide. Jefferson Louis is given a chance by a Jensen back pass. Louis beats Steve Brown, but a Fortune tackle retrieves the situation. Deano is limping. An Oxford corner produces a header straight at Deano and Euell makes a last deperate effort.
Penalties in front of the Covered End. Euell puts it wide and Crosby scores. 0-1. CJ's effort is saved, but Oxford aren't able to take advantage. Konchesky squeezes it in the corner, but Hunt makes it 1-2. Svensson puts in a decent penalty to make it 2-2. Ford hits the post. Robbo puts the Addicks 3-2 ahead, but Powell, brought on as a last minute sub, makes it 3-3. Sudden death. Brown puts in a terrible effort which is way over, but Savage blasts it over. JJ's tries to roll it over the line and the lino gives it. Matt Robinson scores, it's 4-4. Fortune and McNiven both score. 5-5. Kishishev's effort is saved. Louis makes it 6-5 for Oxford. A sad evening for a sad geezer.
It is possible to bet on half time results in football matches and cricket has a complicated system for allocating points which I don't pretend to understand. But in the Premiership there are no points for a good first half performance that puts you 1-0 ahead. In fact, if you put in such a performance against a team like Manchester United, you know they are going to come back at you in the second half. So it proved with Charlton going down 3-1, a score that did not reflect the balance of play. Overall, it was a fighting and often skilled performance by the Addicks which might have earnt a draw.
Starting with an Euell shot on goal from the kick off, Charlton played well in the first half. For once they were playing a neat passing game. Eventually this paid off. Instead of going 1-0 down shortly before the break, an excellent pass from Robbo allowed Claus Jensen to score a superb goal. But Charlton looked more lacklustre from the start of the second half. United started to control the pace of the game, and find alarming amounts of space. Charlton seem to be unable to close down opposition teams, sitting back too much. Once United had got their equaliser, it looked like an uphill struggle. The two crucial goals can be attributed to avoidable defensive errors. Admittedly, United's final goal came when the Addicks were battling to get an equaliser after going 1-2 down.
When the second goal went in, the moaners behind me shouted 'It's all your fault, Curbishley.' But Curbs had made some key changes in the side, replacing Bart-Williams by Mustoe, who introduced some steel to the midfield, and putting Bartlett up front. He could be criticised for leaving the substitutions too late, but the side looked like a team for once. However, as one lister commented, there might be a case for making substitutions to change the game, rather than substituting a player after the game has changed.
But the harsh truth is that the Addicks are now in a relegation spot, although the bottom half of the table is a tightly bunched and three points could put Charlton in a very different position. The pressure is now on and Joe from New Eltham thought that it was now 'touch and go' whether they would survive. They have to do something about their home form because scrapping for points on the road is not going to be easy, starting at Loftus Road next Sunday. Confidence still looks brittle.
Arriving for the warm up, I was surprised to see no sign of Blomqvist, although perhaps he had succumbed to one of the notorious training ground injuries. The start of the match was slightly delayed while Barthez insisted on work being done to the net of the Covered End goal. Thirteen seconds from the kick off Euell delivered a shot that was only just inches wide of Barthez's post. Bartlett was fouled and the Addicks were given a free kick. For some reason Konchesky rather than Jensen took it and the shot sailed over the goal. Forlan petulantly and unnecessarily kicked the ball away when the Addicks were awarded another free kick and competent referee Dermot Gallagher gave him a yellow card despite protests from Beckham.
In the 17th minute Giggs set up Scholes. With Deano beaten, Richard Rufus made an impressive clearance off the line. The Beckham corner was dealt with by a Chris Powell header. The Newton Heath club won a free kick on the edge of the box, but it was cleared. Fortune made a good clearance, then a poor one. Then the action switched to the other end with an excellent passing movement which characterised Charlton's first half play. Euell passed to Robinson who set up Bartlett. His angled shot was a good one, but Barthez saved with his outstreched legs. Robbo won Charlton a corner but, as is so often the case, it was not productive. Euell drew a save from Barthez. As the half hour mark was passed, he tried a half chance from a distance. Seeing Barthez off his line, he put in a dipping shot which was not too far off target. Scholes put in an effort that was way, way over, but then Fortune had to make a great clearance. Mustoe provided some good play in a tussle with Beckham.
Just before half time is always a worrying time at The Valley. Following a hand ball by Mustoe, United had a chance with a free kick which Beckham put fractionally wide, although Deano had it well covered. Robbo then put in an excellent ball to Bartlett, but the South African somehow managed to balloon the ball over the bar. Robbo was not amused. Two minutes later Robbo roared down the East Stand side. His pass was well controlled by Jensen who, with no one in support, put an excellent ball into the right-hand corner of Barthez's net. Beckham was not amused and fouled Jensen, earning himself a yellow card from the authoritative Gallagher.
Steve from Sidcup predicted a tense and difficult second half and so it proved to be. United stepped up a gear and within five minutes Mustoe had lost the ball to Solksjaer. Giggs got hold of it and Richard Rufus had to make another important block. However, minutes later Rufus and Young went for the same ball, giving Giggs plenty of freedom on the left. He turned provider for Scholes who scored from six yards out. Manchester United now brought on the heavy artillery. The hapless Forlan, who is presumably planning a career as a wandering minstrel once he leaves football, was taken off and replaced by Ruud van Nistelrooy, later claimed by Sir Alex Ferguson to be the turning point in the match.
Chris Powell managed to win Charlton a corner, but it was wasted. Giggs put in a header across Deano's goal which was only just wide of the post. Something of the character of the match is revealed by the fact that the first offside was twenty minutes into the half. Mustoe picked up a yellow card, a wag behind me shouting 'His name is Bart-Williams.' United took off Butt and brought on Gary Neville. I wrote the word 'Giggs!' in capital letters in my notebook. The danger man was being given far too much space in which to operate. United seemed to be slowing the pace of the game. Robbo picked up a yellow card. Gallagher's pointing indicated that it was for dissent against the linesman.
Chris Powell was felled in an accidental collision with Paul Konchesky. The physio who came on was once again not Andy Jones of pies fame. At one time he was reported to be in Canada with Graham Stuart, but Stuart was seen hobbling round the lounges. Another rumour is that he had been sharing his pies with Lord Archer. Something is going on. There was some petulant argument from United about how the match should be re-started, but eventually it was kicked back to Barthez. Giggs turned provider for Scholes, Deano reacted well to push the ball out and Rufus and Fortune between them managed to clear it.
On 83 minutes van Nisetelrooy made use of a long throw by Gary Neville. He used his pace and then unselfishly passed to Giggs who once again was standing unmarked, although Luke Young made a desperate attempt to arrive on the scene. Giggs had no difficulty in outmanoeuvring Kiely and slotting the ball into the net. The hapless Luke Young was pulled off for JJ and Mustoe was subsequently replaced by Kishishev. With three minutes of time added on, Charlton were desperately looking for an equaliser. JJ won a corner, as the early leavers streamed out, but this simply gave United a chance to break again and make it 3-1. A cross from Giggs gave van Nistelroy the chance to head home the third, a scoreline which did not really reflect the balance of play. Others have their problems, though. We were accosted on the way home by Spurs spectators who were the worse for wear after their 0-3 defeat by 'Boro - who now look like tough opponents for our next home match.
Our senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch showed his lack of experience when, like Homer last week, he had to ring a friend before selecting the recipient of the coveted Silver Bone. But Steve and Tracy from Dartford were able to confirm that for effort and skill all over the pitch Jason Euell should add to his growing collection of that very special award. The moaners behind me are now targeting Deano , although he was really only at fault for the second goal. He remains the best keeper in the lower half of the Premiership. Rufus played well, clearing one otherwise certain goal, but he is not cut out to be a captain. I thought that Fortune had an excellent game. His emergence and continuing improvement is a success story for the club. Chris Powell was competent enough without really shining. Luke Young's nickname is unfortunate, but some of the blame for defensive lapses could be placed at his door. Good to see Konchesky playing at home again, he did well. Robbo laid on the first goal and made an excellent contribution throughout. The goal from Jensen was excellent and he was playing with more confidence, in part because of the presence of Mustoe in support. He got warm applause when he was substituted and deservedly so. He battled away and showed real skill. It all shows you can't base too much on the reserves where one indifferent performance led to him being unfairly nicknamed 'Mustgo'. However, we should remember how much Bartlett impressed us in his first match for Charlton: one match doesn't a player make and the Sunday Times thought that he was 'off the pace'. Bartlett displayed pace and determination, but missed a golden chance to score. The substitutes were on for too short a time to make any fair comment on them.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to two groups of United supporters: those in the Jimmy Seed stand who twice tried to burst through the gates when United scored, and the posher ones who even managed to infilitrate the East Stand.
Crowd rating: At the start of the match slimline pitch announcer Brian Cole invited us to make The Valley the fortress it once was. Sadly, it isn't. Particularly in the second half, even before United equalised, the crowd were tense and subdued. Is there already a relegation pall over the ground? It did sound better on television, though. 6/10.
Staying in the Premiership is always going to be a struggle for smaller clubs like Charlton. Good financial and team management, and team spirit, can help to fill the gap. These qualities may help to ensure survival for a few seasons, but clubs like Derby, Ipswich and Leicester have lost out in the medium term. An article in The Independent on September 28th illustrates the nature of the uneven playing field that Charlton faces. United's income from European competition alone is greater than Charlton's annual turnover. The Independent put some striking comparisons in a table (Charlton figures first):
The number of Addickted visiting this page is:
Row Q, Rose of Denmark before