Our report on the home game against West Bromwich Albion and subsequent reports will appear at Volume 4
Two goals from Jason Euell, one after thirteen minutes and one at the start of the second half, put the Addicks 2-0 ahead at The Lane, phones in Westcombe Park Addick Paul May. But Spurs brought on Simon Davies at the break and changed to a 4-4-2 formation. They were then on top for most of the second half and pulled two back to earn a share of the points. Indeed, it was only a great save by Deano and a clearance off the line by Richard Rufus that stopped Spurs taking all three points. Nevertheless, it was the seventh unbeaten performance by Charlton in a row, although they do show a worrying tendency to sacrifice leads.
I had quite a job to to the ground on time, having to go to Greenwich to make use of the Docklands Light Railway. I got there just in time to learn that the Addicks were playing 3-5-2 with Rowett, Rufus and Feesh across the back; Powell and Young as wing backs; Jensen, Euell and Parker in midfield; and Lisbie and Bartlett up front. Raddo was on the bench to make room for Jase. The man in the middle had a relatively short journey: it was that well-known banker from Billericay, Andy d'Urso.
Scott Parker made his presence known to Poyet at an early stage with a crunching tackle. Robbie Keane beat captain Gary Rowett on the touchline and started a mazey run with Deano having to save. Chris Powell provided some good defensive work. Poyet made the most of another tackle from Parker, earning Spurs a free kick. Ziege went for goal, but Deano saved. A ball down the line by Scott Parker was made use of by Bartlett to earn the Addicks a corner, but Jensen's effort was misplaced. Euell went on a thirty yard run and turned provider for Lisbie but his hesitation enabled Perry to clear. Poyet went in hard on Chris Powell, but nothing was given: we all know the effect of banking on the eyesight. Freund put in a shot from distance. Parker turned provider for Lisbie who played the ball into Euell who put the Addicks one ahead on thirteen minutes to mark his 50th appearance for the visitors. It had been a tight start to the match, but Charlton were ahead.
Sheringham and Rufus had an exchange of views. A ball from Euell was not well collected by Lisbie who would have been well in on goal. A shot from nothing by Parker drew a save from Keller. Parker won a free kick in a dangerous central position. Rowett played the ball into an unmarked Lisbie but he put the ball over the bar and on to the top of the met. A Spurs corner was headed away by Rowett, but it was some time before it was fully cleared.
The game now entered a rather scrappy phase, but that was fine for Charlton who were closing the home side down well. A good Spurs cross was headed out by Luke Young. Scott Parker set up a shot for Lisbie, but his effort was well blocked by Darren Anderton. Surprisingly, it was Lisbie who broke up a Spurs attack with a tackle. Charlton were playing a good passing game and a Spurs counter attack, three on three, was effectively dealt with by the Addicks. Rufus was awarded a yellow card, supposedly for a tackle from behind on Keane, but I thought it was a marginal decision.
After we passed the half hour mark, the somnolent Spurs fans started to wake up. They had something to keep them awake on 38 minutes when Spurs launched their first dangerous attack. Charlton found themselves two on two and Keane took the chance to shoot, drawing a great save from Deano. Shortly afterwards, he was called into action again to deal with an effort from Poyet.
With one minute of time added on, Spurs won a corner. The ball was cleared away by Rowett and then by Rufus. Then Feesh went down, not with fin damage, but what looked like a nasty head wound. To his credit, d'Urso blew up immediately, but then sporting Sheringham tried to contest the dropped ball to try and make use of the dying seconds of the half.
For once, Hoddle seems to have sought appropriate guidance at half time. He pulled off Anderton and brought on Simon Davis and the switch to a 4-4-2 caused the Addicks trouble. Jensen tried to lob Keller. It was a good idea and might have succeeded if it hadn't been underweighted. Then Lisbie released Euell who made a good run forward. His first attempt bounded back from Keller, but Euell has no trouble in putting the ball in an open goal to make it 2-0. When he first came to The Valley, the moaners quickly wrote him off as useless, but our leading scorer has certainly shown his worth since then. Indeed, Spurs have been rumoured to be interested in him.
A good ball from Ziege reached Sheringham on the far post, but it went into the side netting. Young released Euell, but he was clattered into by Freund who received a yellow card for his trouble. There was a mad scramble in the Charlton goalmouth with the ball just parried away by Deano. This provoked a renewal of the earlier trouble between Rufus and Sheringham and d'Urso called them over for a word, presumably not about the delights of living in Billericay. I know that page editor Wyn Grant lived there in the 1960s when it as quite a hotbed of Spurs support.
Good work by Luke Young allowed Parker to go to a thirty yard run. D'Urso, who was having quite a good game, let him complete it before calling Ziege over to give him a yellow card for a late challenge. Lisbie advanced on the right, but was intercepted by Perry. The Charlton corner was taken by Jensen and Keller eventually managed to get hold of the ball.
Hoddle used his last two substitutions. Freund was taken off in favour of Iversen. Les Ferdinand replaced Sheringham. The fading maestro was not pleased and took a slow walk off with his head bowed. Luke Young fouled Keane. The Spurs free kick was taken by Ziege. Rufus was brave in defence and got in a tangle with Les Ferdinand. Iversen went in hard on Deano who took a knock on his shoulder. Referees increasingly seem to ignore handballs, Les Ferdinand being the beneficiary on this occasion.
Spurs were really getting on top at this stage of the game. Their momentum won a corner. Only good marking by Euell on the far past forced Perry to head into the side netting rather than scoring. Feesh, who looked as if he was increasingly suffering from his earlier knock, gave the ball away to Robbie Keane, but managed to make up for his error. On 66 minutes Spurs won another corner, but Rufus headed it away. Charlton seemed to be soaking up the pressure. But on 67 minutes a good ball by Ziege was headed down by Iversen. Keane hammered the ball into the back of the net, leaving Deano with no chance. If Charlton had withstood the pressure for a few minutes, it might have been a different story. As it was, Spurs had got one back at a crucial moment in the game. The Addicks were probably making their usual mistake of sitting too deep when they are ahead.
They continued to press forward. On 70 minutes a Ziege shot took a deflection, was well saved by Deano and was headed away. Jensen was much quieter in the second half than in the first Lisbie was looking increasly tired, as was Feesh and it was the latter who was pulled off in favour of Konchesky. Luke Young gave the ball away to Iversen, but it was headed away by Rowett and then cleared away by Parker. On 81 minutes Curbs made his second change with the fading Jensen, often not one for ninety minutes, being replaced by Kishishev. Rowett blocked Iversen well and then a Ziege shot was parried down by Deano. Then Keane burst through, but he was tackled well and the Irishman was left holding his head in his hands.
But the relentless Spurs pressure paid off on 86 minutes when what looked like a header across goal by Iversen ended up in the back of the net. Rather unusually, Deano did not read this ball well. 2-2 and the fear was that the home side would make it 3-2 in the closing minutes. Hoping to hold on to the point, Curbs pulled off Bartlett and brought on Fortune. Deano had to make a great save from Davies and then Rufus had to make an overhead kick to clear the ball off the line. Paul, it looked to me on television as if it came off his head. Are you sure your hangover wasn't worse than you admitted? Wyn
With three minutes of time added on an effort from a Spurs corner saw the ball end up in the side netting. Ziege then fouled Parker and got his second yellow and his marching orders. The free kick was on the edge of the area but Konchesky's effort was caught by Keller. Kishishev and Parker made one last effort, but Parker's shot was on his weaker left foot. Certainly an exciting game which saw my hangover vanish and many would have settled for an away point beforehand. Drawing away at Spurs will not, however, be good enough for the moaners.
Birmingham: Unfortunately we do not have a report from the Millwall of the Midlands. Although I live twenty-five miles away, I didn't feel it was safe enough to go, particularly after police cover was withdrawn. Substitute reporter Paul May went to his Christmas party at work on Friday evening and decided to spend Saturday with his hangover rather than make the trip to our glorious Second City.
Charlton surrendered a 2-0 lead against the Maine Road Massives to draw 2-2 at The Valley on Saturday. On Baker Street Station after the match, a fan approached me and said 'Same old Charlton. You can never relax with them. You always feel tense.' Admittedly, a few weeks ago we would have settled for: 11th in the table; an unbeaten run of five matches; and four points out of six against Liverpool and the Massives. Instead, it felt as if we had lost the match. Indeed, we could have done. Everything might have been different if Kevin Lisbie had seized a golden chance to m make it 3-0. Instead, the Addicks sat back and let the Massives back into the game.
Match announcer Brian Cole was careful not to use the phrase 'the teams are in the tunnel' which was associated with a series of home defeats. Curbs had decided that 3-5-2 formation would be the best way of dealing with City's attack. Charlton got off to a vigorous start, Euell releasing Lisbie after two minutes, but Howey made an important interception. Deano had to save from Anelka. Kevin Lisbie was making a real nuisance of himself and Distin decided to trip him up, an action that foreshadowed a series of similar physical interventions by the visiting Massives, most of whom are big lads. Charlton managed to put a cross in front of Schmeichel's goal. Kishishev was near, but unable to connect, but Charlton got a corner out of it, followed by a second, which was eventually cleared. Rufus put in a good tackle to deal with a strong break by City, then it was Feesh's turn to tackle effectively. Charlton kept up the pressure and the Covered End broke into a chant of 'There's only Nicky Weaver' to commemorate City's celebrated goalkeeper once hailed as England's next great hope between the posts. There was a dangerous moment when Rufus was on his own and Deano was out of his goal, but Feesh managed to tidy things up.
A small group of Chinese travel round the country to watch Jihai Sun, but he seemed to be in 'two steps backwards, one step forward' mode as he conceded a corner to the Addicks. Schmeichel had to punch the ball out. There was a hand ball shout in front of goal, but referee Pugh seemed to think that the occasional use of the hand made for a more interesting match. On 22 minutes Euell clipped Berkovic's ankles and picked up a yellow card, Berkovic making the most of his terrible injury and being roundly booed by the Addickted.
Charlton were in real danger on 24 minutes. Rufus put in a poor back pass to Deano who had to make a hurried clearance. The ball rebounded off Foe six yards out, but it fell fortunately for the Addicks and ended up in the side netting. On 33 minutes referee Pugh gave a rare free kick to Charlton, taken by Scott Parker. Rowett's header was turned away in front of the post by Howey. Horlock brought down a surging Scott Parker in such a blatant fashion that even referee Pugh had to award a yellow card. Charlton kept up the pressure and Dunne had to hack away an effort by Lisbie. Possibly one of the best chances of the half came when Kishishev put in a good cross to Bartlett, but he somehow put the ball over the top of the goal from a promising position. City always looked dangerous on the break and Berkovic turned provider for Anelka on 42 minutes, his low shot being saved by Deano at the second attempt. I notice that time added on is now announced as a ' minimum of (in this case) one minute.' Presumably this gives the referee scope to extend time added on if a big club is not getting the right result.
Curbs decided to change things around at half-time and brought Jensen on for Kishishev. City started brightly as visiting sides often do and Horlock put in a shot from the edge of the area that called on Deano's skills. Lisbie broke free of Horlock and was tripped by him. There were no real protests from the Massives when referee Pugh pointed to the spot. Euell sent Schmeichel the wrong way and the Addicks were 1-0 up. A rare sight: a penalty awarded and scored at The Valley.
Luke Young won the Addicks a corner, but Jensen's effort was poor. Lisbie burst through again, but he was no match for Schmeichel. Anelka demonstrated his diving skills on 58 minutes after a challenge by Euell. Anelka obviously thought that his night's clubbing had already started and, in the restrained tones of the Press Association, 'retaliated by putting his hands on his opponent's face.' It all threatened to go off, but eventually City were able to take their free kick just outside the 'D'. It is rare to see a free kick so spectacularly wasted with the ball going well wide of Deano's goal. Charlton kept their cool and on 62 minutes Lisbie laid the ball off to Jensen. It was one Dane against another and the so-called luxury player but a low drive into the corner of Schmeichel's goal. Schmeichel recently received Denmark's 'Mr Calm' award and became increasingly agitated, advancing up the field to yell at his fellow players, something that seemed to be less well received when he had tried it at the No.1 club in Manchester.
City were making every effort to get back into the game and Rufus had to make two good blocks in succession. Then Lisbie cut inside again, but he was no match for Schmeichel who blocked his effort. The rebound fell to Jensen, but it was not an easy ball to deal with and he fired it over the top. Almost immediately, Keegan took the risk of pulling off a defender (Howey) and bringing on a midfielder (Benarbia). I rate Benarbia as a very tricky player who can create things and it is puzzling that Keegan doesn't use him more despite his age. I suppose one should always look for the simple explanation: despite the hype and adulation that surrounds him, Keegan is really a prize chump. In any event these were the turning points in the match: Lisbie's miss and Keegan's substitution.
On 72 minutes Benarbia helped to set up City's first goal. The vertically challenged Algerian put in a cross from the left, Rowett tried to head the ball away, but he only found Foe. Deano did get a hand to his effort, but he couldn't stop Foe making it 2-1.
Charlton were not quite sure what to do: attempt to get a third or defend in depth. They tried to do both and succeeded in neither. Scott Parker picked up a booking on 80 minutes for being as physical as some of the Massives. Then on 83 minutes a tackle by Rufus brought down Anelka in the area. The assistant referee, who had decided to wait for the January sales for his new glasses, made no signal and furious Massives surrounded the hapless Mr Pugh.
Rufus made another great intervention when City threatened on the break. City won a corner. Charlton were unable to clear their lines and the visitors won a second attempt. The area in front of goal was full of red shirts, but one could sense that they were starting to panic. Foe deflected Berkovic's shot beyond Deano to make it 2-2.
The danger now was that it would be 2-3 and Deano was called on to make one more save. With a minimum of three minutes added on, City won a final corner and Konchesky was brought on to prop up the defence. The draw was a disappointment, but it could have been worse. An analysis by The Independent shows that if you score first in the Premiership you have a 74 per cent chance of winning. After yesterday, the relevant figure at Charlton is 56 per cent.
It was particularly disappointing to throw away another chance of beating the Massives. I have little time for inner city teams that play in blue. Some people like City because they are not United. However, City fans are always crowing about how 'massive' a club they are. And in a way that's true: they have lots of fans outside Manchester. For example, we encountered some from Reading on the way to the ground yesterday. In fact, recent research has shown that United have more season ticket holders in Greater Manchester and Lancashire than City. See Manchester United.
Controversial match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Richard Rufus. City are a very physical side, well versed in the arts of diving, and Rufus put in some very effective blocks, even if one did lead to a penalty call. Deano probably couldn't have done much about the two goals. Feesh was a reliable figure at the back of the defence. Powell was not too much in evidence, but put in one or two good crosses. Rowett was capable and competent. Young had a few good runs forward, but my overall assessment was lukewarm. Kishishev played well enough in the first half, showing some nice touches, although he is also inclined to surrender possession too easily. Parker was less in evidence than in some recent matches. Indeed, this was a match where the Charlton error of letting the midfield disappear seemed to be reappearing at times. Euell stepped up to the plate for the penalty as the moaners behind me screamed 'not Euell!' But he did his job calmly and efficiently and the Valley rang from time to time to shouts of 'Jason Eu-ell'. Bartlett displayed a very high work rate, but lacks accuracy when he gets a half chance. Lisbie once again showed why he is known as 'Missbie'. He can't score the simple goals when he is one-on-one with the keeper. But his pace really unsettled the City defence. Jensen's appearance was greeted with groans from behind me, but he did score a goal, although some would claim that his failure to tackle helped to set up City's first goal. Konchesky was sent on to defend at a final corner in a manner reminiscent of the limited appearances of Scott McGleish.
Juneau the Soccer Cat had plenty of candidates for Hiss of the Match , not least cheats Anelka and Berkovic (one of the rare sensible insights of the row behind was that they could see how that guy had smashed him in the face). However, a very loud hiss goes to inept referee D Pugh who should be kicked off the Premiership list. Instead of pathetically flapping his arms around and telling players to calme down, he should have done the job he is paid for and take control of the game.
Crowd rating:In great form, often drowned out the mouthy Mancs. 9/10. Mind you the funniest remark I heard all week was at a freezing New Windmill Ground on Tuesday when Brakes came back from being 1-3 down against Romulus to win 4-3. As the hapless Romulus keeper sliced a shot into the adjacent field, a wag yelled 'That's out of order, keeper. There are sheep in that field. You could have killed one.'
Not at Charlton: making sure the ground is ready at Harbury Lane. Strange thing is, I've never seen Deano down there when he's home in Leamington to learn from the goalkeeping skills on display.
That was the chant in the R*se of D**ma*k after Charlton had beaten Liverpool 2-0 at The Valley. It was the Addicks' fourth win on the spin, their best record ever in the Premiership and the first victory against Liverpool after four successive defeats. It was a wonderful way of celebrating ten years back at our home. The game also attracted the biggest crowd yet at the new Valley. Scousers who had told us before the game that it would be easy started to creep away well before the end of the game.
The last time Charlton beat Liverpool it was Keith Jones who scored the winning goal and I decided to honour the occasion by putting on a shirt signed by him. I also dropped Hooch the Pooch as match analyst and called Didcot to mobilise lucky black labrador, Homer the Cherry Hound. When we got to Charlton, we found that the Rose of Denmark had been taken over by Scousers. We therefore went to the ground early and were soon joined by Steve from Sidcup, who had brought along his programme from 1992. Unfortunately, Paul (aka the Bloke Beside Me) was stuck somewhere in deepest Kent and missed the match.
Some people thought that the pre-match celebrations did not live up to the hype, although it was interesting the players were stopping to watch the video, despite a comment by Curbs that the new ones didn't want to know about our history. There was certainly a great atmosphere in the ground and some pessimists were worried that it would distract the players rather than inspire them. In any event, it was good idea to have the team led out by Colin Walsh and the souvenir programme was excellent value.
This was a match Charlton were clearly up for from the moment they kicked off. Parker offered an early threat with a through ball that Kirkland had to come out and clear. In the second minute Rowett put in a long free kick which was headed over by Henchoz for a Charlton corner, taken by Scott Parker, but cleared. On seven minutes, Bartlett burst through and Kirkland had to come out to clear. Kishishev saw a half chance and had a go. For a moment it looked as if Euell would be booked for a foul on popular Steven Gerrard, but he was let off with a talking to. Chris Powell had to concede a Liverpool corner, possibly Deano should have come out more confidently to deal with the ball. A run by Scott Parker allowed him to turn provider for Konchesky. I thought that the way Konchesky was dispossessed suggested a foul, but referee Riley maintained a benign indifference which suggested that he would bless the whole Liverpool squad at both cathedrals if offered the chance.
Charlton's passing was fluent and accurate and at last the referee awarded a free kick for a foul on Kevin Lisbie in a promising position. Up stepped dead ball maestro Paul Konchesky. What the Press Association called a 'vicious curling free kick' had to be tipped over from under the angle by Kirkland. A free minutes later Deano had to make his first save of the game at close range from Owen. As Bartlett piled on the pressure, Kirkland was forced to slide at the Springbok's feet and was concussed. As he received extensive treatment The Valley broke into a chant of 'We Want Dudek' and the hapless Pole was seen warming up. So legendary has he become that when Leamington defeated Highgate United 5-1 on Tuesday night, the crowd serenaded Highgate's hapless keeper with chants of 'Dudek' every time he got the ball.
After the smelling salts had done their work, Konchesky decided to try an on target shot. Bartlett failed to make use of a good ball that was played into him, perhaps because he was not expecting it. A weak clearance by Rufus allowed Liverpool to attack, but their effort was just wide. Heskey then burst through but put the ball way over from distance and seems to have injured himself in the process. Indeed, Liverpool tried to claim that the Charlton goal was scored when they effectively had only ten men.
On 35 minutes Kevin Lisbie laid off the ball to Gary Rowett out on the right, a well judged move. Rowett was unmarked and was able to put in a great hanging cross. Euell headed on to Jamie Carragher's back and then made use of the rebound to put the ball into the roof of the net. For the purposes of Kevin Portch's Dream Valley competition, he must surely be awarded both the assist and the goal?
Almost immediately, Heskey limped off, the departure of England's super star being greeted with derisive jeers. Charlton are always at their most vulnerable when they have just scored and Heskey's replacement John Arne Riise nearly turned the game around. A centre from the left found the head of Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf and it took a superb reaction save from Deano to deal with his bullet header. With three minutes of injury time added on, Lisbie carved a way through the Liverpool defence, outpacing Hypia. This was not a case of 'Missbie' as Kirkland did well to stop his effort at point blank range. With the seconds ticking away, Chris Powell made an important intervention at the expense of a Liverpool throw in.
After the break Liverpool came out of the blocks revitalised, evidently hoping to score an early equaliser so that they could achieve the 2-1 score forecast in the souvenir programme by a Liverpool fan. This got the moaners in the row behind going, who were soon criticising Curbs's tactics and demanding his immediate dismissal. They complained about a lack of energy from Charlton, arguing that they had too much cocoa at half time, but the fact was that Liverpool had stepped up a gear. Although Charlton rode their luck (and one of the biggest changes from earlier in the season is that they have got their luck back), after a torrid ten minutes, they managed to restore their overall control of the game. Nevertheless, seconds after the start, a pass by Murphy released Owen. He showed his world class qualities by timing his run perfectly so that he was not ruled offside, but miscued his shot badly when he attempted to shoot with the outside of his boot. Murphy himself burst through, but his effort lacked sufficient accuracy. A Liverpool corner taken by Gerrard was unproductive. Charlton were being forced back too much. On 57 minutes Jason Euell was booked for an over vigorous late tackle. This brought his tally up to five, meaning that he will miss one match. However, one minute later Dimji Trarore was booked for tripping Lisbie. This was Trarore's last involvement as on 61 minutes Houllier went for three in attack, bringing on Baros. Meanwhile, there had been a hand ball shout from the Covered End, but the referee was in mood to give penalties to the smaller club
Lisbie put in a shot at Kirkland which was played out. The ball did not fall too well for Hackney's finest and his second effort was well over. Deano had to save a six yard free header from Baros after Riise had picked him out from the left. Deano then had to punch out the ball from the line as Liverpool piled on the pressure with a fierce left-footed drive from Murphy. However, the resultant corner produced nothing more than a throw in. An on form Kishishev produced good work in the wing. Lisbie turned provider for Bartlett, but his effort was just over.
On 69 minutes Parker was taken off in favour of Jensen. The East Stand linesman was doing his best to frustrate any attacks by Charlton with very strange offside decisions. The Liverpool fans rose in truimph when the ball ended up in the back of Deano's net, but it was rightly judged to be offside by the West Stand linesman. However, on 78 minutes attempts to prevent the wrong result were frustrated. Charlton once again displayed neat build up play. Lisbie put a lob into the path of Konchesky who put a volley over Kirkland and under the crossbar. 2-0 and the Scousers started to sneak out in droves.
Two minutes later Kishishev was replaced by Young. Even the geographically challenged moaners behind me were inspired to shout 'Well done, Boris!' Liverpool were starting to lose their cool and when Hamann attempted to obstruct a kick by Paul Konchesky, it was moved forward. Unfortunately it then looped well past the goal. Liverpool managed to win a couple of corners. Referee Riley took exception to a tackle by Konchesky on 87 minutes and gave him a yellow card.
On 88 minutes Svensson, who had been warming up for some time, was brought on to replace Bartlett. If this was intended to warm things up, it certainly had that effect as three minutes of injury time were announced. First, Hamann got the booking he had been looking for for some time. With Lisbie keeping the ball down by the corner flag between the East and the Covered End, he won a corner, followed by a free kick. It all went off between Svensson and Henchoz with Kirkland rushing to the touchline to add his opinions. Henchoz was booked for dissent and Svensson for the foul, although some referees would have sent Henchoz for the push which brought Svensson down.
Then the whistle blew and the celebrations could begin. We later discovered that Charlton were now second in the Sport First form table. As reporters in the press box tried to file their 'Crisis on the Mersey' stories, they were interrupted by furious barking from match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound. There were shouts of 'Who let the dog in?' until someone told the excited labrador that Bournemouth had won a replay in the FA Cup at Southend. We went off to the Rose for a drink or two and then home for some champagne. I had already sent Curbs his customary seasonal case of wine a few days beforehand. Richard Murray declared his faith in the manager in the Daily Telegraph stating that Curbs will never be sacked. What will the well-known moaners on the list say now?
Someone suggested that Homer the Cherry Hound should award Silver Bones to the whole team and indeed a set of commemorative miniature Silver Bones are on their way. However, Homer eventually selected Deano for two great saves that help to maintain a crucial clean sheet. The defence didn't give Michael Owen the space in which he likes to operate and were always harrying and closing down Liverpool players. There were cries of Feesh more than once as he leapt into action to make crucial interventions. Chris Powell was full of energy and enthusiasm, but more importantly skill as well, coming into the game more as time went on. Many listers have been calling for Rufus to be relieved of the burden of being captain and without that role he performed superbly in defence. I thought that Kishishev had one of his best games, showing some real touches of brilliance. All that is needed now is for him to score a goal. Rowett , already written off weeks ago as a waste of money by the moaners, showed himself to be a capable captain. He made key contributions to the match in both attack and defence. Scott Parker was as busy and effective as ever in midfield, but started to fade a little (perhaps he had picked up a knock) and had to be substituted. It's not so many years ago that this page had a row with Konchesky's sister about some negative comments about him. We always delight in seeing young players develop and that has certainly been the case with Konch. Another great performance. Euell was the outfield player in contention for the Silver Bone. Another exhibition of commitment and skill, although once or twice he tried to be too clever. Lisbie had one of his better games. Even if he failed to score, he put Liverpool under pressure. Bartlett contributed fully, although once again he failed to score. Jensen has been dubbed 'Mr Lux' by one well known supporter and amateur stattos have pointed out that we won three games without one him (an analysis which any serious statistician would dismiss as a spurious correlation). Nevertheless, it cannot be said that he made a great impact when he came on. Luke Young contributed after his arrival and did nothing to disgrace himself. Svensson managed to wind Liverpool up after his arrival at the expense of a yellow card.
Hiss of the Match: There was plenty of moaning about referee Mike Riley who certainly has a blind spot about hand balls, but Juneau the Soccer Cat has hissed at the East Stand assistant referee, another linesman who has peculiar ideas about the interpretation of the offside rule.
Crowd rating: The first ever 10/10 rating. They were clearly up for this truly beautiful day. The wall of noise was tremendous. I particularly liked the way in which the opposition's chants of 'Liver-pool' were transformed into 'Jason Eu-ell.'
Homer insisted that the day be marked by publication of his full photograph.
Charlton's 2-1 victory over Leeds at Elland Road on the first day of December threatened to add another famous scalp to the long list of managers who have departed after a defeat by Charlton. Terry Venables refused to discuss his future after the game. Leeds had gone 1-0 ahead a few minutes before the break, but Kevin Lisbie equalised for Charlton on 80 minutes and then Scott Parker scored the winner on 90. It was the first time Charlton had beaten Leeds in the Premiership and their first win at Elland Road for fifteen years. The three points from their third win a row put Charlton 12th in the table.
Charlton were missing the suspended Richard Rufus, writes Westcombe Park Addick Paul May but Rowett returned from injury. Euell was played in midfield with Bartlett and Lisbie up front. Gary Rowett took on the duties of captain. Leeds fielded an unchanged side for the first time this season. Among those spotted among the faithful were 'Sweaty' Balmer, wife and children.
Leeds were on top in the first twenty minutes. On six minutes Kewell stormed up field before turning Rowett on the edge of his area and putting in a left foot drive which was only just wide of Deano's left-hand post. Feesh suffered fin damage and had to be replaced by Fortune after twenty minutes. Referee Andy d'Urso, the banker from Billericay, booked Jason Wilcox for unsporting behaviour on 21 minutes.
The confidence of the Addicks gradually grew. Shaun Bartlett struck the crossbar with a powerful header. Only the skill of Leeds keeper Paul Robinson prevented goals from a superb angled drive by Lisbie and a header from Euell. It was against the run of play when Kewell put Leeds ahead after 42 minutes. After an Addicks attack, Stephen McPhail turned provider for Kewell. A push on Rowett was ruled by d'Urso to be permissble under Australian rules and Kewell was able to put a shot from twenty-five yards past Deano. Within only one minute added on, Robinson in the Leeds goal had to use all its skill to deal with a low twenty yard strike from Euell.
Ten minutes into the half, Kishishev put in a lob from twenty yards and Robinson had to tip it on to the crossbar. Not much more than a minute later, an unmarked Fortune wasted a chance created by a cross from Kishishev, heading the ball over. On 74 minutes the Bulgarian was replaced by Claus Jensen, returning from injury and regarded by some of the Addickted as a 'luxury player'. On 76 minutes Scott Parker was booked for unsporting behaviour, increasing his yellow card tally to three.
Then on 80 minutes a Konchesky cross was nodded down by Bartlett into the path of Lisbie. This time he did not miss but scored his first goal of the season with a ten yard half volley. Searching for inspiration, El Tel pulled off McPhail and former Addick Lee Bowyer in favour of Michael Bridges and Robbie Fowler. The noisy Leeds supporters were then silenced on 90 minutes when Scott Parker went on one of his trademark solo runs. Evading three challenges, he put the ball past Robinson. If Leeds had any money, they would surely want to buy him. Matt Svensson came on for a cameo appearance to replace Bartlett, but then it was time for the boos to echo round the stadium.
Someone on the coach said that Curbs had taken Charlton as far as he could. How far do they think Charlton could be taken? Or perhaps they would prefer a manager like El Tel. No doubt when he goes Curbs will be on the list of possible replacements.
The away support as small but noisy. Scott Parker ran over to the Charlton corner when he scored and celebrated in style, the banker from Billericay almost booked him. A chorus of 'jingle bells' rang out. A delighted Deano came over punching the air and Chris Powell did his jack-in-the-box act, coming out of the tunnel to cheers.
A 90th minute strike from Jason Euell that will surely be a candidate for goal of the season gave Charlton a 3-1 victory over Blackburn at The Valley. It was their first win in the Premiership against Blackburn in their first televised league match against the club, their first successive win this season and their biggest win in the calendar year. While that says something about their performance over the last six months, it also gives renewed hope for the future, not least for the game against a faltering Leeds.
Accompanied by a friend from Canada making his first visit to The Valley, I watched the game from the unusual vantage point of the Upper West. The first half was dire from a Charlton perspective. What chances there were went Blackburn's way and the visitors had a penalty shout against Jon Fortune which was not given. The Charlton defence, with Gary Rowett unavailable at the last minute, looked at sixes and sevens with even Rufus seeming to be out of sorts. At the break it looked like we were heading for a bore draw at best.
Half time gave Curbs a chance to 'sort it aht'. The lacklustre Fortune was replaced by Konchesky and the formation changed from an unsuccessful 3-5-2 to a more convincing 4-4-2. A Paul Konchesky free kick put the Addicks ahead in the 59th minute, but they are always most vulnerable when they have just gone ahead. They had not finished their celebrations when Blackburn levelled within the minute. Then a great header from Rufus put the Addicks back in front. It always looked as if Blackburn could make it 2-2, but the superb strike from Euell put matters beyond doubt.
I was explaining some of the finer points of the game to my Canadian friend who is more familiar with baseball and (ice) hockey during the warm up when a sudden noise from the crowd caight my attention and saw Mark Fish and Shaun Bartlett leading the entire squad in the much publicised South African warm up routine. As I missed some of it, I will quote from an E mail from Bruce from Old Coulsdon: 'It was essentially a number of dance moves across the width of the pitch with the squad in two lines behind the two Madiba boys. Some of the moves looked pretty funky I have to tell you and got a good reception from the crowd. There has obviously been a lot of practice gone into this, as the two lines were pretty much inch perfect in their execution of the moves. The Blackburn players looked a little bemused by the whole affair.'
Things started hopefully enough with Bartlett turning provider for Euell. However, his low and fierce cross was well saved on the line by substitute Blackburn goalkeeper, Alan Kelly. Rufus was forced to concede a corner, which was taken short, and followed by a second which Parker cleared at the expense of a throw in. More dangerous moments for the Addicks followed. Bartlett put in a tame shot. Lisbie got free with a nice dummy and the Addicks won a corner. Somewhat unusually taken by Kishishev, it was punched out by Ireland's No.3.
Referee Uriah Rennie who was in a 'I'm in charge mood' dished out a somewhat harsh yellow card to Jase on 24 minutes for unsporting behaviour. This is his fourth of the season, a worrying statistic. Fortune got himself in some trouble when he made a clumsy challenge on Cole in the area, but Uriah Rennie saw no reason to award a penalty, although subsequent television analysis showed that Blackburn had a case. Chris Powell had to concede a corner after some fast work by the visitors down the wing on the East Stand side. Taken by David Thompson, Jase disposed of the ball. Blackburn continued to look impressive and, with Deano not well placed, an attempt by Andy Cole went just wide. Lisbie showed that he has skill everywhere but in front of goal with a nice ball that cut between two closely placed players. A Charlton corner was taken by Scott Parker, but good work by Lisbie earned nothing more than a throw in.
Blackburn continued to pile on the pressure and I was looking anxiously at the minutes left, fearing a goal for the visitors just before the break. Rufus unusually found himself in some difficulty in defence. A Charlton corner saw a great ball go across the front of the goal on the ground, but no one was able to connect with it. A Blackburn break produced a cracking angled shot from Dunn which was just wide. In the one minute of time added on, Blackburn managed to win a corner, but fortunately it was not productive.
The opening of the second half saw more moments of danger for Charlton. Rufus missed a through ball and Ostenstad was easily able to evade Luke Young. Ostenstad's first attempt was dealt with by Deano's legs and a follow up hit the base of the post. Lisbie won a Charlton corner and Scott Parker put the ball out to a waiting Paul Konchesky, eventually allowing Luke Young to have a go. A Blackburn free kick from Thompson was saved by Deano. Referee Rennie allowed Rovers to take a free kick twice, although it had been taken illegally in the first place. Things looked dangerous when Deano had to come to the very edge of his area to collect the ball. Although the final story of the second half was a happy one, I felt that in the opening quarter of an hour we were giving the ball away too easily.
Then Scott Parker was brought down on one of his trademark runs, his assailant Todd receiving a yellow card. The free kick was in a promising position and Paul Konchesky used his left foot to good effect to score a scorching goal. Unfortunately, the Addicks failed to calm down quickly enough and Rovers were able to pull one back with a fierce shot. Thompson used a lay off from Cole to blast the ball past Kiely from twenty yards. Bartlett put in an effort that was not too far wide. Immaculate in a suit, Souness made his first substitution, bringing on Dwight Yorke to replace Egil Ostenstad.
A run by Euell gave Lisbie a chance, but somehow he managed to lift the ball over the crossbar. With the game still very much in the balance, it was end to end stuff, but Charlton were stepping up the pressure. Making use of Kishishev putting the ball over the Rovers defence, Kevin Lisbie beat the keeper, but with the goal at his mercy, managed to put the ball in the side netting. 'How much do I pay that guy?' bellowed one bloke near us. A Scott Parker run won the Addicks a corner. It was taken by Paul Konchesky and Richard Rufus provided a looping but agonisingly slow header from some twelve yards which went into the top corner to make it 2-1 on 74 minutes.
Charlton had a chance to create something almost immediately, but Rennie awarded a free kick when he should have played the advantage rule. Kevin Lisbie was given a yellow card for nothing in particular so far as I could see (supposedly unsporting behaviour). Souness pulled off Curtis, one of Blackburn's better players, in favour of Corrado Grabbi. Rufus made an important block when danger threatened and Lisbie had a good run. He was pulled off in favour of the exponent of postmodernist chic, Chris Bart-Williams. David Thompson was replaced by blast from the past, Keith Gillespie.
Charlton were playing far too deep and 2-2 still seemed to be on the cards. Danger threatened with two Blackburn corners, but then Euell put things beyond doubt with his superb strike which will surely do wonders for his confidence. Once again, Charlton really played only in one half, and perhaps for own part of that, but it was enough to give them a key victory.
Jason Euell had a celebration jig after his goal and he was able to repeat it when he received the Silver Bone from an excited Hooch the Pooch. The goal was superb, but Jase had put in some great runs during the match which troubled the Blackburn defence. Deano didn't have a lot to do, with the most threatening Blackburn attempts going just wide, while their one goal was unstoppable. Why he takes the free kicks all the time is beyond me as half the time he puts the ball out of play. At least Kelly had the same fault, leading to ironic chants of 'Deano'. For me the most impressive defensive player on the park was Feesh who repeatedly leapt into action. After a period out of the team, Fortune was very disappointing, with Duff waltzing around him at one point, and it was perhaps his weakenesses that made Rufus look below par in the first half, but he made one key intervention in the second, apart from scoring the goal. Chris Powell was efficient without being outstanding, but it was great to see him do his post match celebration again. An article in the programme praised the way in which Luke Young had responded to being dropped and the much maligned player had a decent game, although a little more confidence in front of goal would be welcome. My Canadian friend quickly spotted Parker as one of the key Charlton players. Kishishev was effective in a midfield slot and produced one outstanding backwards flick. Lisbie used his pace but showed once again while he is called Missbie. Having scored three goals in a row if you count his effort in South Africa, this was not to be Bartlett's day. Konchesky really made a difference when he came on, although there is no doubt that the midfield missed the playmaking skills of Jensen. The bench had an unusual look about it, with even Steve Brown warming it and Chris Bart-Williams made a rare cameo appearance.
Juneau the Soccer Cat awarded the Hiss of the Match to Andy Todd who once again showed that he is Mr Nice Guy.
Crowd rating: Very subuded in the first half, perhaps not surprisingly, came alive in the second. 6/10.
A 80th minute goal from Shaun Bartlett was enough to give the Addicks three points at Maine Road on Saturday, writes Westcombe Park Addick Paul May. Charlton gave as good as they got in the first half with two chances to score. City put them under the cosh in the first part of the second half, but they survived and fought back to score. Then they held on to keep the points, although Euell had a chance to make it 2-0.
The moaners on the list were saying that Charlton were going to get beat and well beat, but I always fancied our chances against Manchester City given our past record when playing them in the Premiership (the 4-1 win there is one of my best memories of recent years). OK, the form book didn't look good. If City were to win, it would be their fourth on the bounce. The Addicks had lost three in a row. And, as one City fan reminded us on 606 last week, they are a 'massive, massive club.'
Nevertheless, I was up for it. So much so that I decided to go up by plane. I think I saw that Glynne Jones what runs the list on the plane. Someone said he now had a job with the club, possibly as Mervyn Day's minder. Needless to say, when we got to Manchester it was raining, obscuring the blue moon that had been shining over the city all week.
I had made the right choice in putting on my black shirt which I think looks stylish even on an overweight, middle aged bloke like me. Claus Jensen was out of the side, having picked up a calf strain we heard later. Jamal Campbell-Ryce had been on the coach, but did not even figure on the bench. The formation can best be described as 3-2-2-1-2. Fish, Rowett and Rufus were across the back in front of Deano. Powell and a recalled Luke Young were wing backs. In front of them were Parker and Kishishev with the latter playing more of a defensive role. Jason Euell played in the hole behind JJ and Bartlett. It looked interesting, my mood only being spoilt by the man in the middle being Graham Barber.
Things started well. Good play by Scott Parker in the middle of the park gave JJ the chance to win a corner. In Jensen's absence, it was Parker who was taking the corners. He put in an excellent ball across the front of goal. Rowett got his head to it and should have got it in.
It was Parker who was in the thick of it again when he went on one of his trademark thirty yard runs. He went down in the 'D' when he was pulled back by Mettomo. With Jensen absent, it was Rowett who took the free kick. Unfortunately, it hit the outside of the wall and was headed away by Goater. Luke Young picked up the ball, but Rufus scuffed his cross, ending a promising moment.
Anelka does not lack pace and he created a move on the right. After Berkovic got involved, Tiatto put in a shot, but it was too high. Rufus then provided some good defending against Anelka. Wright-Phillips put in a cross, but it was blocked by Chris Powell at the expense of a City corner. Kishishev was able to clear. JJ was well in, but Schmiechel parried the ball away for a Charlton corner which was cleared. Bartlett took a kick high in the chest and was in some pain. Referee Barber had woken up to the fact that he was playing on Planet Earth and demanded a new ball to replace the somewhat flat one recommended for Planet Zog.
It was a good open game at this stage. Parker had been tormenting Berkovic and he went down under a challenge, giving City a dangerous free kick. It was cleared away by Luke Young, but the pressure continued, Scott Parker helping to eventually bring things under control. Charlton won a corner, but it was headed away.
The home side had a great chance with a two-on-one break after the corner with Chris Powell back on his own. Somehow Anelka lost the ball, otherwise Berkovic could have been one-on-one to Deano. It was getting a bit niggly with continuing conflict between Berkovic and Parker. After he had brought Berkovic down, Parker tried to shake his hand but the offer was refused. Wright-Phillips put in a cross and Berkovic put in a shot, but it was blocked, somewhat painfully, by the Bulgar regions of Kishishev. Then Charlton had a chance. Chris Powell played the ball in and it was cleared off the line by Dunne. Bartlett put in a header but this was blocked and the ball came out rather quickly and awkwardly to Euell whose effort was wide.
City started to pile on some pressure and won a corner. Bartlett cleared the ball, but Wright-Phillips had an attempt which bobbled away. There was concern when Bartlett was seen on the ground injured. From inside his methane bubble, Barber took too long to stop play, given that it was evidently a head injury. Bartlett did eventually receive treatment and fortunately was ok. Luke Young got a yellow for a foul on Tiatto, although the City player appealed on his behalf. Good work by Scott Parker and Chris Powell gave JJ a half chance, but his effort was a tame one.
Luke Young is a number one scapegoat for some moaners, but he was having a decent game. Kishishev had a run from defence. Luke Young made good use of this with some good play on the byline. He then tried to lob Schmiechel and got close with the keeper forced to tip the ball over the bar. It was not one of Parker's better corners and the ball ended up on the roof of the net. Berkovic linked up with Anelka, but he was blocked by Rowett. Euell totally miscued a shot with his left foot, it was a case of how wide do you want to be? In time added on, Rufus picked up a yellow for a foul from Goater on behind. It was his fifth yellow and will mean he will miss the Leeds match, a game where we need his services.
Keegan had obviously given City a talking to in the dressing room and they came out fired up. Berkovic put in a shot which curled over Deano's bar. In fact, last minute pressure from Rufus had distracted him. Vivien-Foe was clearly injured and had to be pulled off Horlock who contributed quite considerably to City's subsequent efforts. JJ put in a good run, but was offside. Horlock showed his pace and put in a shot which almost caught an unprepared Deano out. Fortunately, it was just over the bar.
City were piling on the pressure. Charlton were conceding more ground and were trapped in their own half a lot of the time. Luke Young headed the ball away for a City corner. It was blocked by Parker at the expense of a second. With Deano looking on, Anelka's header went just over. Things were not looking good, even more so when it appeared that Rufus might be having trouble with his right ankle after landed awkwardly. Fortunately, he was ok, but the pressure continued. Anelka miscued a shot, largely because Rowett was pressuring him. Then Deano had to make a good save from Anelka, one of the few the keeper made in the whole match. Rufus was seen signalling to the bench as it appeared that a hobbling Fish had suffered fin damage.
Keegan was clearly not a happy bunny. Goater was pulled off. I don't rate him as much as some people do, but anyway the Charlton defence had seen him off. Huckerby came on, in my view more of a danger man, especially when pace is needed to secure the one goal that will win a match. On 78 minutes, Keegan continued to ring the changes, bringing off Berkovic and replacing him with Bernarbia. City do not lack strength in depth in the squad. I wondered if the time had come to bring Lisbie on to give the Addicks some more width.
Anelka shot from distance, but it deflected off a defender for a City corner. Charlton were under the cosh, but eventually Wright-Phillips put the ball over. Luke Young went on a fantastic run that took him into the box, but his effort deflected off a defender for a Charlton corner. Then Parker picked out JJ on the wing. He had the time to put in a decent cross, Euell intelligently jumped over the ball (or failed to connect, if you prefer), allowing Bartlett to put the ball in the net at the far post.
Charlton had clearly decided to carry on attacking. Luke Young turned provider for Bartlett who headed it on to Euell, but his effort was way over. With five minutes of normal time to go, a City free kick allowed them to keep up the pressure. Sun put in a good cross, but Bartlett headed away. The corner allowed City to create further pressure, but Parker eventually cleared. Lisbie had been waiting for some time for a break in play and came on in place of Bartlett.
A foul on JJ was ignored by referee Barber, but one by the combative Parker on Huckerby was noticed. Kishishev kicked the ball away in frustration and got a yellow card. Barber ostentatiously moved the free kick from twenty to twenty-five yards out to the edge of the box. This was looking dangerous with two minutes of normal time to go. Rowett positioned himself on the line. But Bernarbia put it over.
JJ turned provider for Euell who had a chance to make it 2-0. But perhaps because of a lack of confidence, Euell didn't hit it first time, but tried to walk it into the net. This led Tiatto to launch a counter attack with Bernarbia displaying his diving skills. There was good play by Lisbie keeping possession and running down the clock. As we headed into three minutes of time added, Parker was pulled off for Konchesky. Parker had had a good game and wasn't happy. But he was on a yellow and it helped to run down the clock.
The supporters of the 'Massives' were already streaming out. With City counter attacking, Luke Young put in a great tackle on Horlock. Horlock was then almost played in, but was offside. Suddenly, it was over and Charlton had the points in the bag. It wasn't an emphatic victory, but it was good enough and will at least keep the 'Curbs out' moaners quiet for a few days.
Unfortunately, the Silver Bone was confiscated by security at Heathrow, but if I had had one to give, it would have gone (controversially, I know) to Luke Young.
That's the verdict of Iceland's No.1 Addick Olafur Johansson after Charlton went down 1-0 at Goodison Park to Everton. Last year Charlton won 3-0 at Everton, but the Addicks have gone into a slump since then, while Everton had staged a major revival. Much of the media attention has focussed on Wayne Rooney and his name is even a point of discussion in Grindavik, notes OJ, but it was a goal on 31 minutes from Radzinksi that left the Addicks pointless. Fortunately, a 1-1 draw between Bolton and West Brom meant that Charlton did not immediately plunge into a relegation place.
Many people have asked me why I returned to the site of my nemesis, Everton, where young entrepreneurs I had hoped to sell fish to stole both the fish and the van, leading to my early return from my job as sales manager of our London office. The fact is that the attractions of Grindavik's Mama Mia pizza parlour were started to pall and I wanted to find out if the Addicks had fallen back as much as many people have been saying.
It has been admitted that the Everton club dominated the game in terms of territory and possession, with the first half being particularly one sided, although they started to fade towards the end when Charlton had a chance of equalising. Much controversy was caused by the decisions of referee Mr Robert Styles from Waterlooville. The home fans thought that they had three claims for the ball to be placed on the penalty spot, but it was the visitors who suffered the greatest wrong. Claus Jensen was clipped by Tony Hibbert as he powered his way into the area. The Dane made his views on the matter very clear to Mr Styles at the time and at the half time whistle, but there was no Waterloo for Charlton as far as Mr Styles was concerned.
Mr Mustoe was at the heart of the action around the half hour mark. David Unsworth failed to control a pass from Yobo giving Mustoe a chance to score, but his finish from some fifteen yards out went well wide. Mustoe then spent too much time on the ball in his own half. Graveesen took the ball off him and turned provider for Radzinski. His speed allowed him to evade Mr Richard Rufus who was marking him. Mr Dean Kiely advanced, but Radzinski was able to drill a shot beyond him. Fans around me were saying that the impending contract discussion could be s short one on the lines of 'Mustoe, must go.'
Mr Kiely then had to make a great save at the start of the second half when Hibbert delivered a powerful shot from some thirty yards out. Radzinki's pace then took him past Fish and Rufus, but he put his shot over the bar. Fish then redeemed himself with a threatening header that would have arrived in the net if it had not been cleared off the line by Hibbert. Meanwhile, the hapless Mustoe had been replaced by Konchesky on 54 minutes.
Everton's dominance started to slip in the closing quarter of the match. Stubbs was replaced by Weir on 69 minutes. Naysmith came on in place of Tie Li on 73 minutes, the Chinese player no doubt being given the opportunity to catch up with the latest news from the Communist Party Congress in Beijing. At the same time, the event the media had been waiting for occurred with the closely protected Mr Wayne Rooney replacing Radzinski. Curbs then used up his remaining subs on 75 minutes. Kishishev, who had not given the side any width, showing a strong central tendency in his play, was replaced by Johansson. Mr Jason Euell was replaced by Mr Bartlett who proceeded to make no impression on the match whatsoever.
In fact, it was not Mr Rooney but Mr Scott Parker who impressed in the remaining period. He ran for fifty yards to the edge of the area, before letting fly with a shot which grazed Mr Wright's bar. On the whole, however, Mr Wright, a noted own goal specialist when facing the Addicks, had little to do throughout the match. Sadly, my long trip from Grindavik had been in vain, other than to bring home to me that a return to Division 1 is a real possibility for the Addicks.
He's Icelandic, he's Addickted, he's barking and he's over here. Despite his unhappy history in Liverpool ('young entrepreneurs' stole his fish and his van), Olafur Johansson reported for us on Everton v. Charlton..
A point at home against fellow relegation strugglers Sunderland kept Charlton out of the relegation places at The Valley on Sunday. However, the quality of the performance in the first half against a far from strong Sunderland side suggested that the relegation struggle will continue until the end of the season, if it is not resolved negatively before then. Before the match optimists were talking of a 3-0 or 3-1 trouncing of the Wearsiders. What they did not predict was where the goals were to come from, given our goal shy strikers. Indeed, I had already predicted a 1-1 draw on the Rodsters list on Friday.
It was, of course, a defender, Gary Rowett, who equalised after Tore Andre Flo had put Sunderland ahead in the first half. His joyful, shirt removing celebration was one of the few highlights of the game. In the first half in particular, however, Charlton showed a lack of urgency and confidence, reflected in the time that it took them to take a throw in. By the end of the game, even Steve from Sidcup was calling for Curbs's resignation. The appointment of Royle to Ipswich shows, however, that there is not some great surplus of managerial talent in the game. Any new manager would have to deal with the same set of players, a mixture of those who have got as far as they are going to go and those who are already over the hill. There are, of course, exceptions like Scotty Parker, but sooner or later he will leave for a bigger club that can properly showcase his talents and further his international ambitions.
Charlton needed to start with early pressure on Sunderland third choice keeper Jurgen Macho. It was Sunderland, however, who managed to win an early corner. For the first of many times in the match, Euell was manhandled in front of goal, but referee Gallagher decided to play the advantage rather than awarding a free kick which meant that there was little real advantage for the Addicks. Chris Powell made a good run on the left. Then Fish had to unavoidably concede a Sunderland corner. This was taken by the eternally popular Michael Gray who was greeted with warm applause by the Addickted. Deano eventually managed to catch the ball. Jensen then set off on one of his trademark runs which ended with him being cynically brought down by Gavin McCann for which the Black Cat earned a yellow card.
Charlton tried to apply some pressure, but Sunderland fought back and Rufus had to end a dangerous looking attack. The visiting fans started to sing 'the finest team the world has ever seen' which always sounds ludicrous from a basement side. However, they soon had something to cheer about. On fourteen minutes Mustoe lost the ball to Thirwell just outside the Addicks area. A lay off from Phillips allowed Flo to put in a powerful angled drive along the ground. Kiely dived in vain, but it has to be admitted that it was a good strike.
Sunderland's were looking confident and Fish was obliged to concede a corner which was only partially cleared. Fish had to concede the corner again. Deano punched the ball out and although a shot was put in it was way over. Charlton's midfield seemed to have suddenly disappeared. A somewhat off form Deano stayed rooted to his line, so Chris Powell had to clear at the expense of a corner. Phillips put in a header which had to be cleared off the line by Scott Parker.
Parker showed his merit again with a great run which unfortunately was unproductive. Some good work on the West Stand side gave Jensen a chance which was cleared off the line. This effort produced a succession of three Charlton corners, ending in a weak effort by Parker. As a mournful Steve from Sidcup declared 'We don't do goals', Jensen turned provider for Parker, his effort being deflected for a Charlton corner. Lightning flashed and thunder echoed over The Valley, but an effort from Jensen was way over. As heavy rain fell, Sunderland won another corner just before the break.
The Addicks could have equalised seconds after the resumption when Bartlett made a rare contribution by putting a ball over the Sunderland defence for Jensen. The Dane broke free and he found himself one-on-one with keeper Macho. However, somehow Jensen placed the ball so that Macho could palm the ball away for a corner. Did we expect him to score? No. Somehow Charlton players like to walk the ball into the net rather than take a shot and Jensen's delay gave Macho the chance to position himself.
As Jensen broke away again, he was hauled down by Bjorklund who received a yellow card. Mustoe was just wide. Charlton were awarded a rare free kick for one of the repeated fouls on Euell, but CJ's free kick was saved by Macho. A shot, possibly by Rowett, went just over Macho's crossbar. There was always the risk that Sunderland would get a second. On 58 minutes Kilbane broke through and put in a fierce shot from 25 yards. Deano managed to turn it on to the post and away for a Sunderland corner which was eventually cleared. Good work by Parker created a half chance for Robbo, but he lacked the pace to take advantage of it. Sunderland took off Thrlwell on 65 minutes and brought on Darren Williams. Bartlett put in an effort from distance that was wide after Euell had knocked the ball down for him. Deano saved a long range effort from Gray, out to get revenge for Wembley.
On 73 minutes the hapless Bartlett was replaced by the equally hapless Lisbie. On 76 minutes Parker was held and Darren Williams received a yellow card. Jensen was fouled producing a free kick for the Addicks. This was taken by Chris Powell. Fish headed the effort to Euell who put in a good ball forward. Rowett beat Robinson to put the ball in the net on 77 minutes. Imitating recent events at Old Trafford, he tore off his shirt and run down the East Stand side to acknowledge the cheers of the Addickted (many of whom have been declaring him a waste of money).
Euell was pulled down,but no action was taken. However, when Parker was hauled down, Stephen Wright received Sunderland's fourth yellow card. On 85 minutes Parker was taken off to the disgust of the Addickted in favour of Kishishev. Those who were criticising Curbishley's tactics might have paused to think that Parker had picked up a knock. As the ninety minutes came to an end, Lisbie had a golden chance from six yards out, but somewhow managed to get the ball stuck to his feet, winning nothing more than a corner. I wrote 'Missbie' in capital letters in my notebook. The Charlton corner was taken short and saved. As the game went into time added on, the tiring Robinson was finally replaced by JJ, something that should have been done ten minutes earlier. The action siwtched to the other end, with Sunderland winning two corners in succession and Deano having to save on his line. The Covered End ironically cheered fireworks in the distance, having had so little to cheer on the pitch.
As the Bloke Beside Me had commented earlier, we don't often have much to emjoy at The Valley these days. To top it all, we couldn't exit via Harvey Gardens where apparently there was a gas leak, although it could have been Mervyn Day letting off steam after the match. As we made our way round the back of the Jimmy Seed Stand, we saw the team warming down in a deserted stadium. What were they thinking?
Our match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Scott Parker for being one of the few Charlton players who managed to show both commitment and skill. He was the only player who seemed to slice through the Sunderland defence. Deano must have been taking lessons from recently retired Mike Salmon, because rather than leaping into action he seemed to favour staying rooted to his line. A series of errors exposed the fact that Chris Powell who also lacks that extra bit of pace is past his best. Quite unusually, the moaners behind me were naming him as the player they would most like to see taken off. Rufus had a solid enough game, although I am not quite sure where he was for the Sunderland goal. But captain material he is not. Rowett had a good game apart from the goal, although he sometimes seemed to be out of position. Feesh was solid and made some good tackles. The midfield often seemed to be absent when it was needed. Jensen and Mustoe had good games and came as close to anyone as scoring. But Robbo lacks the skill needed at this level and was near exhaustion by the game's end. There was some story in the programme about Bartlett not getting enough international games to retain his work permit. The sooner he goes back to South Africa the better as far as I am concerned. He made very little positive contribution to the game. Euell did his best all over the pitch, but he is not a natural goal poacher, something we have never had since the loss of Sir Clive and Andy Hunt (although the latter was much criticised when he was playing for us). Lisbie came on and did little except to not take full advantage of one chance to score. Kishishev had one brilliant turn which outfoxed Sunderland, but otherwise failed to sparkle. Baffingly, JJ was brought on in injury time.
Hiss of the Match: Referee Dermot Gallagher can be crucified on Banbury Cross as far as Juneau the Soccer Cat is concerned. Although he did dish out four yellow cards, he offered Euell in particular little protection against the cynical physical tactics of the Mackems.
Crowd rating: Silent for some of the time, spirited at others. As good as one could hope for, given the performance. 6/10.
BTW, I went to see Ruhsden play Boston on Tuesday and Redfearn was on the bench. A Pilgrims fan said in the programme, 'He's a jinx - relegated almost everywhere he's been. I think his grandad was a navigation officer on the Titanic.' Redfearn stayed on the bench which sunk into the wet ground as the evening wore on. The programme did have a two page spread on Charlton's recent visit which the Addicks won 4-0 (see below).The number of Addickted to have visited this page is:
Block , Row Q
Next to Steve from Sidcup and, the Bloke Beside Me and at
The R*se of D**mark