A possible future at Anfield? Scroll to bottom of page?

Thank you Curbs!

It was a real thrill to receive a get well card in the post from Curbs with a picture of the two of us on the front. I know that some friends had a part in making this possible, but I am still grateful to Alan for signing it. Thanks also to Paul, aka the Bloke Beside Me, for his get well card.

Olafur Johansson writes

Our football in Iceland is played in the summer as there are too many ices to play football in the winter, except sometimes for our national team. The weather in winter is not always so nice. But now Iceland football fans can warm their hearts by watching the achievements of the Herminator at Charlton. Could he be Player of the Year?

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-<.P>

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hiss of the Match

Suki from Old Coulsdon has given an affectionate Hiss to Lily Savage. Every story needs a villain, and as far as Suki is concerned, no one does pantomine deviancy better than Lily. To see Suki's photo go to Suki

CHARLTON GET DOUBLE OVER 'POOL FOR FIRST TIME IN FIFTY YEARS

The first Charlton match that your page editor Wyn Grant can remember was the Addicks beating Charlton 6-0 in 1953/4 and that was the last time Charlton did the double over Liverpool team. At Anfield Charlton defended with determination and took their chances to beat Liverpool 1-0. Here is your report from away correspondent Paul May.

Well here I am at Anfield, writes Paul May . Not too hopeful after Saturday, particularly given that we have not won at Anfield since 1954. But I always like to come to Anfield as it is a genuine home of football, one of the most atmospheric grounds in the country. If Liverpool don't get an early goal, Charlton may be able to take something away from the match. The pressure is more on Liverpool than the Addicks given our recent form.

Both sides went into a pre-match huddle, Charlton in their change strip of yellow. Kishishev was back in with Euell on the bench, but JJ and Bartlett started up front again. Liverpool had most of the ball in the early phase. A free kick was awarded against Luke Young. Gerrard whipped it in towards Heskey who made a late run and Deano had to concede a corner. Eventually in the following play Owen evaded two Charlton defenders and got a shot in but Deano saved to his left. Kewell won a free kick against Fortune as Charlton continued to play defensively. Liverpool got a free kick against Luke Young on the edge of the box. It was dangerous, but Bartlett cleared. Liverpool were putting the Addicks under the cosh with Gerrard looking particularly dangerous and giving Luke Young plenty of work. The Anfield faithful were curiously quiet despite Liverpool's dominance while the Addickted were noisy.

Charlton tried to mount their first attack as the quarter hour approached. Liverpool won a corner with Fortune somewhat at fault as he should have cleared. JJ cleared the ball and Gerrard's effort went high and wide. Fortune put in a long ball to JJ after winning it off Heskey, but Dudek came out to claim the ball. Kishishev put a poor ball forward. Heskey had a chance with a good ball from Kewell but his header was poor. Luke Young under pressure from Heskey put the ball over his own crossbar.

Good volley from JJ

The ball from the corner was not cleared at first, but Charlton broke, Jensen fed JJ, but his cross was blocked. Charlton won their first corner from a resultant throw in. JJ put in a stunning volley which Dudek had to tip over the bar, the closest anyone had come to scoring. After a Liverpool move that was started by a poor clearance by Konchesky. Heskey got above Fortune for a header but put it over the bar. Konchesky put in a decent cross, but JJ was not able to connect. Fortune got in front of Heskey to put the ball out for a throw. Liverpool were stepping up the tempo, but JJ raced forward, winning a throw in. Konchesky did not use the throw in well, but at least Charlton were getting forward more. Heskey had another chance to make use of a cross, but the hapless attacker put the ball wide of the post in what was probably Liverpool's best chance so far. Matt Holland had a half chance from twenty yards and had a go, but was wide of the target. Liverpool won another free kick halfway inside Charlton's half. The Addicks set up a four man defensive wall and Konchesky cleared into the home half. The Herminator provided a good ball to Bartlett, but he fed Jensen rather than having a try himself. The Herminator prevented a corner kick by thumping the ball out for a throw. Jensen put the ball well wide. Gerrard put in a shot which Deano saved. Charlton had a free kick on the touchline level with the edge of the penalty area, but Jensen's effort was cleared comfortably. Charlton were looking brighter as the half came to a close and Liverpool were booed by their own fans.

Herminator Gets Silver Bone

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Herman Hreidarsson who we have missed when he was out injured. Switching to the centre back position, he made his usual impressive contribution. Deano wasn't tested that much by a poor Portsmouth side and could hardly have saved their goal. Chris Powell was impressive at left back and worked well with Paul Konchesky in the left midfield position who also had a good game. Both of them showed an ability to get the ball forward. Fortune was not very prominent, but did a good enough job in defence, making some key tackles. Luke Young was also on good form, making some important interventions. Jensen was very poor. Apart from anything else, his corners were weak. Better corners might have tested the Portsmouth defence. Holland had a well below average game, partly because he was played out of position. I felt that Euell needed to get forward more if he was to act as the main link between the midfield and the attack. Bartlett played well: perhaps it was necessary to take him off before he faded. JJ also made an impressive contribution. Claudio Ranieri is reported to have said that there are two people inside Carlton Cole : one is a rabbit and the other a lion or a tiger. The rabbit seemed to predominate today. Di Canio worked his magic when he came on, but he had little time to do it.

Hiss of the Match

An invitation had been extended to Daisy the Saint to act as guest analyst, but she was so disgusted at the result that she refused to give her views. Juneau the Soccer Cat made the award to referee Andy d'Urso, at one time a banker from Billericay. He was very fond of interrupting the flow of the game for the smallest infringement and seemed determined to prove that he was not a 'homer' by giving as many decisions as possible to Portsmouth. Perhaps he had his honeymoon in Southsea.

Crowd rating

The frustration of the crowd understandably showed as the match went on with the Bloke Behind Me and many others engaging in their favourite activity of slagging off their own team. As expected the Portsmouth fans kept up a barrier of noise, at one time taunting the Addicks with 'do you ever sing a song?' The general view seems to be that Pompey fans are great supporters, but I am not so impressed by mindless chanting that has no relationship to what is happening on the pitch. There is no doubt that their insular and somewhat run down home generates high levels of dedication which I suppose you need when your team is so poor. And they are poor - despite the failure of Charlton to beat them.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hooch the Pooch: 'I nearly kept the Silver Bone in the cupboard'

Controversial match analyst Hooch the Pooch came close to deciding that it was one of those rare occasions when the coveted Silver Bone should not be awarded. But the player who has the largest collection of Silver Bones, Dean Kiely won yet another one for his superb save from Angell and another excellent save in the first half. Fortune and Perry looked composed enough at the centre of the defence, particularly Perry, but one might want to examine the video to see where they were when the two goals went in. After some early errors, Konchesky's performance in the left back position improved as the game went on. His first touch of the ball is often good and he is capable of putting in a decent cross. Luke Young had a good game, providing confident cover in defence and surging forward more than once. Kishishev had a 'mare of a game for most of the time. When he did get the ball, he didn't seem to know what to do with it other than to give it away. Apart from his effort that hit the post, Holland had a game well below his usual standard and his efforts to lift the team did not seem to work. Jensen contributed little in open play, his set pieces were disappointing and he missed a penalty. Well he might cover his face with his hands. It was good to see Euell back on the pitch, but he seemed to lack his usual pace and enthusiasm. Despite some nice touches, Di Canio was not up to his usual standard. Carlton Cole scored his goal, but then his contribution diminished as the game went on. JJ did have some impact after he came on and he might be worth considering for a start. Bartlett was clearly up for it but enthusiasm and energy are not enough. Chris Powell made a now rare cameo apperance, doing his best to contribute.

Hiss of the Match

Guest Hiss of the Match analyst Suki from Old Couldson . Would it be the East Stand linesman or the obnoxious Lee Hendrie? In the end the decision went in favour of J Lloyd Samuel for the way in which the deserter larged it in front of the Covered End and the East Stand after scoring his goal.

Crowd rating

The small number of Villa fans made a lot of noise, but the home crowd was subdued. One might say that was understandable given the performance on the pitch, but it was just the sort of occasion when the team needed to be urged on to more effective effort. 4/10

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Your match reporter

Paul May is enjoying an increasing reputation for his authoritative coverage of Charlton's away games. A lifelong Addick, Paul admits that he likes to be 'well lubricated' before a match. Divorced with two children, Paul lives in a basement flat in Westcombe Park. He is a member of the Westcombe Society. He started life on the railways, but moved into information technology where he still works.

Referee's cousin at match

The referee's cousin from Mars, Urgh, was offered a complementary ticket at the game as a reward for his role in the recent destruction of the Beagle space probe. He was planning to sit in the highest park of the St.James's Park stands to take advantage of the thinner oxygen levels at high altitude. It was his first football match, but one thing that he learnt quickly was that it is the referee's job to favour a big club playing at home. Urgh said that he was amazed how many methane breathers had been able to find themselves a niche on Earth as referees. He was also interested to see that many lower forms of space creature had metamorphosed themselves into linesmen. 'Imagine', he said, 'one moment you are a reptile living in the primeval slime of a remote planet and the next moment you are running the line in a Premiership match driving the crowd crazy with your lack of understanding of the offside rule.' Although he thought that Martians would be good headers of the ball, he thought that football would not catch on in Mars because of the lack of grass (surely an opportunity for astroturf salesmen?) However, some Martians did the pools, having located very primitive life forms on the Old Kent Road to act as intermediaries.

Women Go Through

Charlton Ladies won themselves a place in the final of the FA Women's Cup at Loftus Road with a 1-0 defeat of Birmingham City at Solihull Borough. The Charlton coach was held up by St.Patrick's Day parade traffic in London and a bump with a car but eventually got there in time to swell the crowd of 1,234 which was nevertheless predominantly blue in colour. Jobsworths prevented us from putting our CAFC Warwick and Leamington banner on the railings.

The very strong wind blowing across the pitch made accurate passing play difficult. Charlton had the downward slope in their favour in the first half, although whether this was much of an asset was doubtful. Having blown up for a dubious foul, the referee was reminded by one of the Charlton faithful that 'this is football, not hockey'. Charlton piled on the pressure, rattling the crossbar at one point, but it was even Stephanie at half time.

The quality of Charlton's play improved in the second half, becoming more clinical. It was the impressive Carmaine Walker who eventually made the breakthrough after a good run. Although the Addicks won a number of corners, the second goal never came. Birmingham, on the other hand, started to flag a little and never really looked equalising and taking the game to extra time, despite some risky back passes to keeper Pauline Cope. Even an incredible amount of time added on could do nothing for the Blues and the Charlton players went into a celebratory huddle in the middle of the pitch.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hooch the Pooch's Boro Verdict

Controversial match analyst Hooch the Pooch has given the coveted Silver Bone to Deano for another clean sheet and some inspired saves that guaranteed three points for Charlton. Chris Perry was authoritative in defence. Opinions about Feesh differed but Bruce from Old Couldson thought that he had had an inspired game. Luke Young had a competent game in defence and forged forward usefully more than once. The Herminator continues to be an inspiration, particularly his runs forward down the left. Paul Konchesky also put in an impressive performanec coming forward down the left. Kishishev was error free and made some brave attempts on goal. Matt Holland was a clear contender for the Silver Bone, not just for his goal, but for his all round contribution. Jensen was hardly a dominant figure in the game, perhaps explaining the apparent absence of the midfield at times. Di Canio did not have his best game, but still displayed some magic touches. Carlton Cole had a reasonable game and his substitition was something of a surprise. Bartlett showed an ability to break forward after he came on, but although there was plenty of commitment, he was unable to provide the much needed second goal. JJ was quite impressive after he came on and showed an ability to forge forward.

Hiss of the Match

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded this to Maccarone for diving and also for having a kick at Luke Young after a perfectly legitimate tackle.

Crowd rating

Nervous tension perhaps reduced the volume at times, but the contribution was good enough, particularly given that the 'Boro fans were quieter than some away contingents. 7/10

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

CHAMPIONS DESIGNATE OVERCOME SPIRITED ADDICKS

Westcombe Park Addick Paul May reports today from Highbury on the Gooners v. the Addicks

The Addicks started with Kishishev in front of Young in an attempt to block the Arsenal left. A faint whiff of methane drifted across the pitch as Tring Triangle referee Graham Barber led out the teams. Fortune started for the team in yellow in place of the suspended Perry. The loss of Euell because of a mid-week training injury was a serious blow.

Charlton kicked off and started brightly with Stuart playing wide on the left. Within ninety seconds Arsenal went ahead with a series of passes and Pires was able to put it in the net. Jensen forged through but failed to get his shot away. After three-and-a-half minutes Arsenal were two ahead through Henry. We were simply swamped with Arsenal playing their strongest side. Soon Arsenal were forging ahead again, we were scarcely able to get a touch. Cole put in a dangerous pass, but fortunately there was no one there to connect. Cole then put in a shot from the penalty area which the Addicks were able to block. Bergkamp had an attempt but Deano was well placed and it sailed over the bar into the roof of the net. The Addicks did at least managed to steady themselves, although Kishishev managed to give the ball away as he so often does. Edu had a long range shot which bobbled in front of Deano and went just wide. Another attempt by Bergkamp went over, but Arsenal won a corner from a deflection. Carlton Cole managed to head the ball away.

Young defended well against Ashley Cole. Charlton made a rare attack involving Jensen after Campbell gave it away and di Canio's shot went just wide. Henry outwitted Kishishev, but the effort eventually ended in Edu shooting over. The Herminator put in a good and fair challenge that left Henry on the ground. Charlton won a free kick taken by Fortune, but after a promising Addicks attack, Arsenal broke again. Ljunberg put in one which Deano had to tip over the bar. Edu took the corner and gained a second after Kishishev cleared. It was taken short and Charlton were under pressure again. Young just managed to take the ball off Henry. Viera put in a long shot. Pires turned provided for Henry but he dragged it wide. The Herminator was defending well for the Addicks, but Kishishev gave it away again. Pires tried a curler, but it was wide. The Addicks were looking more organised and started to get a bit more possession. A well worked move was wasted by a very ambitious chip by Jensen which sailed over the bar. He had di Canio to his right and Cole to the left, but chose not take the options.

Henry had a good chance as a result of Bergkamp and Pires but he shot straight at Deano. Arsenal won a corner. Stuart got a touch from Henry's ball, there were appeals for hand ball from the Gooners but they managed to get a consolation corner. It was cleared by Stuart. Arsenal broke away from a Charlton attack with Viera and Fortune had to put the ball over the bar with seven minutes of the half left. Holland and Carlton Cole cleared from the corner and Bergkamp put in an attempt that went wide.

Ironic excitement as Addicks win corner

Charlton actually won a corner kick which got the Addickted jumping up and down in ironic excitement. Di Canio's effort was poor, but his second attempt allowed Stuart to put in a volley which went over. Arsenal attacked again, but Feesh blocked and then the Herminator got it away. Henry put in a drive and Deano dived to the right. Curbs came down to the touchline to join Day. Yet another attack had to be dealt with by the Herminator at the expense of a corner. The Gooners got a second. The ball was punched out by Deano and di Canio burst away and Bergkamp had to intervene. Edu took an Arsenal free kick and it went just wide of Deano's right-hand post.

-

-

-

Monty Martin comments

It was an exciting Valley debut for novice match analyst Monty Martin selected by the Association of Canine Match Analysts to cover the game against Blackburn. The excitable spaniel was over the moon when he discovered the role would form part of his weekend as a house guest. He selected Paolo di Canio as the first recipient of the coveted Silver Bone from him. Monty commented, 'I have heard dogs in Didcot discussing di Canio. But I was not prepared for his magic skills, his commitment and his enthusiasm. His feints and his flicks, especially one back flick, had me entranced.'

Deano let in two goals but was hardly at fault for them. Chris Perry had another good match and will be missed at Arsenal. The early departure of Feesh did something to upset the rhythm of the team. His replacement Fortune gained in confidence as the match went on. Kishishev is simply too error prone to give enough confidence. Luke Young had a competent game in which mistakes were balanced out by occasional moments of inspiration. Hreidarsson had another excellent game. Stuart was inspirational, increasingly featuring in attacks as the game went on. Holland was a quiet but influential presence at the heart of the midfield, although, like the rest of the midfield, was too deep sometimes. Euell as well as scoring a goal had a generally good game. Carlton Cole continues to prove that he has plenty to offer that Leaburn, with whom he has been compared, never did, not least a stunning opening goal. Jensen had a chance to score before he finally did, but made a decisive contribution. Konchesky had a cameo part, but performed it well.

Hiss of the Match

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to Blackburn manager Graham Souness . Souness threw his chewing gum wrapper on the ground and was challenged to pick it up by the formidable Tracy from Dartford. He refused, saying of The Valley, 'This place is just a carsey.' He was also busy pointing at his watch, suggesting offsides and generally interfering with the officials.

Crowd rating

At the Brakes v. Sphinx match midweek, the crowd of 359 was able to come up with at least five inventive chants, not least 'There are only two Tommos' when two players named Thompson scored one minute after the other. The Covered End was in fine form, taunting the East Stand at one point 'East Stand, East Stand, give us a song' which got a poor response. However, the excitement level of the match kept the crowd going. 7/10.

Our 2004-5 season diary can be found at 2004-5

Reports Services Suspended

I had to spend twelve days in hospital including surgery for a benign enlargement of the prostate which was totally unanticipated. I probably will not be able to go to any more matches this season, although I have growing hopes of making it to the Southampton game. One of the most negative aspects of the whole experience was to find that the surgeon had me down as a Gooner! It is hoped that the service will resume again next season.

OJ FLIES IN FROM GRINDAVIK TO FIND DISAPPOINTMENT IN MANCHESTER

Here is your old pal Olafur Johansson, No.1 Addick in Iceland, ready to bring you a match report from Old Trafford tonight.

When Mr Wim Grant said that he had to go back into hospital and could I cover the match for him, I said 'By jove, of course I will'. (Incidentally, a friend of mine who is head of a new rural college in the remote west of our country met Mr Wim in Brussels recently, so there are many fish in the sea, but sooner or later they all meet). In a trice I was able to find a flight from our National Airport, which is not so far from my workplace in Grindavik, direct to Manchester. Even the wives of the fish shed suspended their usual ribaldry when they have heard my good news. Now I have my own husky dog, but she could not come on the plane with me as a dog reporter. She is a bitch dog, her name is Scottdottir. Mr Wim rang me to say that a friend in Manchester told him that her security was at risk in part because of the match at Old Trafford, but hopefully if there was any risk in the first place from terrorists it has been averted. Many extra police persons were in evidence around the ground, some of them on board their horses.

One change in the Charlton side was the return of Graham Stuart in midfield, playing in front of Mr Luke Young. There were about 800 of the Addickted there. I was pleased to see the Icelandic player, the Herminator, involved in early challenges. Saha nearly broke in behind the Herminator, but he was able to clear. Charlton made some good, strong challenges in the opening phase. The home crowd was very quiet. United won a corner through Mr Van Nistelroy. An unmarked Brown was unable to make contact for the Salford side. Van Nistelroy had a shot that was deflected giving United their second corner, producing the first noise of the game. Stuart cleared the corner from the near post. Jensen made a good run forward, Chris Powell made a cross, but Charlton were unable to connect. The offside flag ended a dangerous break by the home side. Van Nistelroy fed Saha but he was unable to make use of the opportunity.

Young had to defend well at the expense of the third corner. Charlton were pressed back into their own half. JJ mounted an attack, Bartlett having taking advantage of a kick from Deano, and was nearly through a goal. Charlton mounted another attack and won a corner kick. The Herminator's header was a little disappointing for an Icelandic person. A free kick was awarded against the Herminator for fouling van Nistelroy six yards outside the penalty area. Deano made a point blank save, then a second one, then Saha put it wide. Great play by Deano. The Herminator was looking a little volcanic, having fouled Saha. Bartlett won a free kick in a good position. Konchesky drove it just over the bar. Jensen made another good run forward in an excellent passing build up. Charlton broke on the right through JJ, but Brown cleared. A later effort was spoilt by a poor first touch by JJ. Fortune made a good interception for Charlton. Jensen making a good run and tried to turn provider for JJ, but Brown made a good tackle.

United go ahead

As the half hour approached, Bellion was allowed a long run, Charlton backed off and Saha was able to score for the devilish team in red. Very disappointing when the Addicks had been containing the Salford side. The 67,000+ crowd woke up. Konchesky dealt with a new run by Bellion. Jensen made a long distance effort but didn't hit the target. United won their fourth corner off Fortune. Konchesky forged forward after a good build up by the Addicks, but put in something that was neither a cross nor a shot from a good position. The Herminator intervened well to stop van Nistelroy scoring. One up for us Icelandic supporters. Powell blocked a dangerous attack to give United their fifth corner. Fortune eventually cleared and then made a good header in front of Saha, and then a third clearance.

HT: Newton Heath 1, Addicks 0

At the start of the second half van Nistelroy made an attempt, having evaded the Charlton defence, but it was not on target. Neither side imposed themselves on the match in the opening minutes of the half. Konchesky was booked for a dive against Gary Neville, but some thought that the Manc stuck his foot out and that it should have been a Charlton penalty. A shot by Butt was blocked by the Herminator. A shot by Saha was blocked by Fortune. Good defending by Luke Young helped deal with a United attack. Van Nistelroy and Saha combined, but Charlton were able to cope at the expense of the sixth corner kick. Holland made a good header away. Saha powered through but ran out of angles. Charlton really needed reviving by a substitution, perhaps through the trickery of di Canio. The Herminator made a strong run, but Konchesky wasted the opportunity allowing United to counter attack.

2-0 to United

Euell came on for the uninspiring JJ. Fortune made a good interception. However, United went 2-0 ahead, Saha ran at the central defence and Gary Neville scored. The crowd came alive. Fortune made another telling interception, dealing with Fletcher. Jensen put in a curling ball looking for Euell, one of the few crosses that Charlton had got in, but the United defence dealt with it. Jensen burst forward again. Deano spilled a shot from Van Nistelroy and Luke Young had to kick the ball away for United's seventh corner kick. Roy Keane came on in place of Butt and di Canio came on as well in place of Stuart, probably another case of making a substitution too late. Jensen won Charlton's second corner kick of the evening. Bartlett's header came off the woodwork at the foot of the post. Euell got a shot in after a good move and it was deflected for a Charlton corner. Gary Neville got a yellow card for dissent. Di Canio let Jensen know what he thought of a poor effort by him.

We came into the last ten minutes of a disappointing match if you have come from the bright lights of Grindavik to see it. Tomorrow it is back to the Mama Mia pizza parlour. Chris Perry and Ronaldo came on, Fletcher going off, along with Chris Powell who had had quite a good game. Ronaldo burst through with Bellion behind and Fortune had no option but to turn it behind for a corner taken short, leading to a second United corner. The match subsided towards a quiet end. Good work by Chris Perry averted danger in time added on. I thought two of the best players were the much criticised Jensen and Fortune.

After the game the master of kidology, Sir Alex Ferguson, said that this was the best Charlton team he had ever seen at Old Trafford. That does raise some questions about the others. It was a disappointing night, but one's expectations can be too high, particularly if one has come all the way from Grindavik. But as a gentleman who introduced himself as Geoff from Dartford remarked, there was a lack of quality in the final third.

Birmingham Report

Because Wyn Grant was in hospital and Paul May was recovering from a particularly bad hangover, this report was compiled by Bracken from Forest Hill, a trainee canine reporter. To read her report go to Report For Bracken's photo go to Photo

Could the Addicks keep up their solid defensive work and perhaps score on the counter attack in the second half? Liverpool won an early free kick against the Herminator, but it was a dreadful effort by Kewell who drew groans from the home crowd. An effort by Gerrard was gathered in by Deano. Charlton launched an attack but JJ's cross was luckily deflected into Dudek's hands. Gerrard was fed by Owen and raced through the Addicks defence but his shot was straight at Deano. Konchesky got a good cross in, but JJ was not ready for the delivery and it went just over his head. Fortune made a challenge on the edge of the area on Kewell, giving Liverpool a free kick. Charlton had a five man defensive wall. Konchesky raced out of the wall as the kick was taken and blocked the shot.

With the game not going their way, Liverpool got ready to make two substitutions with Heskey being taken off and being replaced by Czech international Baros. Smicer, out since the January cup match against Yeovil, also came on and 11m wonder Diouf went off after a lethargic display. The substitutes combined, but Deano saved at the feet of Baros who had been given a good ball by Smicer. Jensen received treatment. Jensen put in a free kick which was just missed by the Herminator who was shoved in the back as he looked likely to connect, but referee Dowd would hear nothing about a penalty.

Bartlett scores

Charlton won a corner, Jensen's ball was unusually good and Bartlett's header went in. 0-1 to the Addicks. Liverpool threatened with their best chance of the game immediately after Charlton scored, but Hamann's effort was knocked off the line. Of course, last year Charlton went ahead and then lost. Liverpool started to play with a new passion and urgency and the crowd came alive. Kewell burst forward after Kishishev gave him the ball and Liverpool won a corner and then a second. This was eventually cleared. A cross by Powell went to Bartlett but it was taken off him by a defender and the Addicks won a corner at around the midway point of the half. Fortune won the ball in the air but did not get to the ball properly and put it over the bar, missing a great opportunity. Liverpool won a free kick just outside the Charlton penalty area after a foul on Baros which was really unnecessary. Gerrad's effort was stopped by the second defensive wall by the Herminator getting his head to it. Liverpool got a second free kick for a handball by Kishishev but Gerrard's effort was neither a cross nor a shot and went over.

Liverpool started to look a bit desperate and the crowd became more frustrated. Powell cleared a cross by Gerrard. Liverpool won a corner that was headed away by Kishishev on the near post. Dudek hesitated as Bartlett approached. After a good run, Riise won a corner off Kishishev as the game went into the last fifteen minutes. Kishishev was able to put the ball out for a throw. Owen made a rare significant intervention in the match but Deano saved comfortably. Owen made another effort, but Deano was quick to save. There was a dismal effort by the hapless Kewell. Owen advanced on goal, but his cross was not a good one. Deano made a wonderful save, I think from Barros with Gerrad as provider, helped by Fortune on the line. Gerrard went down in a spectacular dive after finding himself near Kishishev and a sheepish Gerrard received a yellow card with Charlton getting a free kick rather than Liverpool getting the penalty. Euell was brought on for JJ leaving Bartlett on his own up front. The clock ticked down and the game went into stoppage time of two minutes. Gerrard won a free kick in a potentially dangerous position, but it was over hit and went out of play. Most of the 40,000+ crowd started to leave. Charlton won three points away from the Valley moaners to put some life back in their season while the portion of the home crowd left booed their team off the pitch. On Saturday I was drowning my sorrows, tonight I will be celebrating!

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

WHERE WAS THE MIDFIELD?

Charlton's season continued its usual Spring slide with the 1-1 home draw against relegation strugglers Portsmouth. The Addicks dominated the first half, with Portsmouth not getting a shot on goal until 32 minutes. However, Charlton failed to capitalise on an eight minute goal by Shaun Bartlett, although JJ drew a good diving save from visiting keeper Shaka Hislop. In the second half, Portsmouth got into the game more and more, particularly after Berkovic and Lulalua came on. Although Pompey's goal was somewhat lucky, it was also predictable. Along with the crowd, the Addicks then started to panic and there were real fears that Portsmouth would take all three points. A late goal by di Canio was a superb strike, but was rightly judged offside.

The real problem in my view was the performance of the midfield. I once watched possibly the worst football team I have ever seen called Kenilworth Wardens (they started as an ARP club) who had a midfield but no attack and no defence. Clearly that is not a recipe for success, but every since Parker's departure the midfield has lacked the kind of inspirational playmaker that we had in an earlier period with Kinsella. Bringing on JJ and Bartlett to start up front worked well enough, although I would have introduced di Canio earlier. With the error prone Kishishev rightly withdrawn, Holland looked uncomfortable on the right. Although he had one attempt on goal, Jensen had another 'mare of a game. His occasional moments of inspiration do not justify his selection. Euell looked sharp to start with, but his fading from the game had a lot to do with the deterioration in Charlton's performance.

The underlying cause of Charlton's Spring slide is that we have too thin a squad that gets exhausted or injured by late season. Chelski take thing to extremes, but there is a rationale for squad rotation. The Bloke Behind Me (who kindly invited me to **** off at the end of the match) complains that we see the same fourteen players every week. Until we have more income, we won't be able to afford enough players of the right quality (remember that the Parker money has to cover wages as well as signing fees). More income requires expanding the ground, but we have heard little of that recently. It would seem that we are barely selling out as it is and mass leafleting of the Millennium Village (whose inhabitants are either away at weekends or support a 'big club') won't solve that. The fans need the patience to allow a prudent strategy to bring results, but that isn't easy: I was frustrated by the result as much as anyone.

Charlton started brightly with both Chris Powell and JJ foraging down their respective wings. Charlton were clearly on top with the Portsmouth defence, the statuesque presence of ex-Addick Linvoy Primus notwithstanding, looking there for the taking. On eight minutes JJ put in a good cross, it was flicked on by the lurking Jason Euell, and Bartlett was able to put a header in the next from a few yards out. JJ was fed with a long ball and drew a save from Hislop. John Fortune cut out a rare Portsmouth attack with a good clearance at the expense of a throw in. Chris Powell won Charlton a corner, but Jensen's effort was feeble.

The nearest came to it being 2-0 was when JJ put in a good angled shot which Hislop did well to save. JJ broke away, but was obstructed, something that referee d'Urso chose to ignore. The lively Konchesky made an on target attempt from distance, drawing a save on the ground from Hislop. Charlton won a free kick at last, but only thanks to the lino, referee d'Urso being preoccupied with his chances of getting the freedom of the 'city' of Portsmouth. Jensen put in a bizarre free kick along the ground, but in the following play Konchesky was able to put in an attempt that went over. Fortune put in another good tackle. Just after the half hour Pompey were awarded a free kick just outside the 'D'. The ball bobbled and deflected along the ground, but Deano got down to make a good save on the line. Euell put in an ambitious effort that sailed over the bar. De Zeeuw used a blatant body check and d'Urso had to yellow card him. The Herminator had to run as if a flow of lava was behind to him to make a good intervention. Konchesky put in a good shot that drew a save from Hislop. Good work by Konchesky and JJ won Charlton a corner, but the delivery by the Danish pastry was poor.

Pompey appeared early after the break, signalling their determination. D'Urso then appeared out of the tunnel, but his training as a banker kicked in as he saw that customers were waiting and decided not to open, disappearing back down the tunnel, no doubt Mervyn Day to hurry up and finish off his cuppa. Pompey took off Pasanen and brought on Berkovic who immediately lifted their game: the puzzle was why he had not been on from the beginning. Pompey were now using wing backs and the Charlton midfield really had no idea what to do. Jensen a rare good move when he surprisingly won the ball off a Portsmouth player: he usually gives the impression that he thinks this is against the laws of the game.

Pompey further strengthened their side by pulling off Sherngham who had been doing his best to wind Charlton players up. Sheringham's departure to check his pension plan was greeted with a chorus of whistles and boos by the Addickted. He was replaced by Lualua, a player I am never quite sure about. He scored a good goal against us at Newcastle once, but there is something of the Bradley Allen style about him, i.e., a forward's job is to exert maximum energy running about the pitch like a headless chicken. However, given Charlton's nervousness an unguided missile was probably of as much use as a player with a sense of positioning.

A blatant handball was ignored by d'Urso. A Portsmouth free kick was converted to a Portsmouth corner, followed by a second which was more than Charlton managed. Jensen put in an effort that was just wide of the post. On 65 minutes Berkovic passed to Taylor on the left and his cross was tucked away by Yakubu. Bartlett was pulled off on 71 minutes and replaced by Carlton Cole, followed by JJ in favour of di Canio on 78 minutes. In the meantime, Euell received a yellow card, d'Urso having heard that Charlton still had a chance of European qualification through the Fair Play league. Pompey were piling on the pressure and Fortune once again came to Charlton's aid with good defensive work. Di Canio took advantage of a pass from Holland, but drifted into an offside position immediately recognised by the lino so what was otherwise a good strike did not count. As the final whistle blew, the Pompey fans burst into a chant of 'we are staying up'. Ironic to think that the point won off us may be enough for a Division 1 team to survive in the Premiership while it drove a further nail in the coffin of Charlton's hope of even a top ten finish.

The Bloke Behind Me had been yelling for Curbishley's blood, declaring the performance on the pitch to be 'pathetic'. It was very poor in the second half and one of our problems has been to maintain consistency over the two halves. However, Ken Jones in The Independent on Monday was not the first journo to have a go at Charlton for having whingey fans who expect too much.

EUROPEAN DREAMS FADE AS ADDICKS FALL APART

Dreams of European qualification by Charlton faded after a poor performance saw them lose 1-2 at home to Aston Villa and slip to 8th in the Premiership table. The Addicks were outplayed in the opening phase of the game and Carlton Cole's opening strike came against the run of play. Villa then got back into the game with an equaliser from Vassell and only a superb save by Deano stopped it being 1-2 by half time. If Charlton's first half performance had been inconsistent, they fell apart in the second half. The arrival of JJ and Bartlett as substitutes steadied the ship somewhat, although there was too much reliance on misdirected long balls which were easily gathered by Sorensen. However, persistent attacking usually pays off and JJ won a last gasp penalty for the Addicks and the chance of a point. But a nervous Claus Jensen put his shot over the bar.

If nothing else, the match showed how much we rely on players like the Herminator and Feesh whom we take for granted. However, the performance of a number of players was disappointing. The absence of the midfield for much of the game inevitably undermined Charlton's coherence. The result was not a complete surprise to me, however, as I had forecast 1-2 in the pub jackpot before the game. The omens for the day had not been good with travel delays on the Chiltern Line, then finding the Jubilee was closed and that the Bakerloo had a disrupted service. And Bruce from Old Coulsdon brought his son with him who has never seen Charlton win at home. For the Bloke Behind Me, however, it was a field day. 'Why don't you resign now, Curbishley?' was his emphatic demand.

At the start of the match a large number of cameras was turned not on the pitch but on the East Stand in the hope of capturing a photograph of England and rumoured Chel$ki manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. O'Leary had evidently reminded his players that Charlton were vulnerable to an early goal because the Villains turned on the pressure from the kick off and the Addicks had difficulty in getting the ball out of their own half. With Konchesky under pressure, Villa won the first of three corners in succession. Barry shot from distance and Deano had to make an excellent diving save to stop the ball going in the net at the expense of a Villa corner. Then Angel made use of a cross from Hitzlsperger to hit the post with his header.

In their first attack, Euell won a corner for the Addicks. Carlton Cole connected with Di Canio's corner and his header went in the net to make it 1-0 to the Addicks after eight minutes. Matt Holland then combined well with Jensen, but his low shot came off the post. At this stage of the game, Charlton were forging forward, while Paul Konchesky and Luke Young were providing good defensive cover. Making use of good work by di Canio, Euell extracted a diving save from Sorensen in the Villa goal. Konchesky conceded a corner, but the Villa effort went over. Jensen played in Luke Young, but he was under pressure as he advanced on goal and his angled shot went inches wide of the post.

A free kick was awarded against Kishishev after a dive. Luke Young made a good intervention at the expense of a Villa throw in. Villa were awarded a dubious free kick but Deano was able to catch the ball. Villa's defence seemed weak, but the Addicks also seemed unable to take full advantage of it. Then on 24 minutes, the otherwise reliable Young cleared a cross from Hendrie to Barry and then deflected his effort to Vassell who had no difficulty in scoring a poacher's goal and putting the ball in the back of the net, doing his England chances no harm. Although it would be easy to blame the unfortunate Young, one has to ask what the rest of the defence thought they were doing.

Villa won yet another free kick after Hitzlsperger went down. There seemed to be too much space in the Charlton defence, while ahead of them Kishishev's position appeared to be entirely random. Vassell fed Angel who evaded Konchesky and put in a difficult shot that was going into the top of the net, until the palm of Deano's hand intervened to make a superb save which even won grudging praise from the Bloke Behind Me.

Charlton did not impress after the break and it was no surprise when Villa made it 1-2 after 55 minutes. Barry released Samuel into plenty of space and as the Charlton defence posed as statues, he had no difficulty in scoring. Charlton almost came back into the game immediately through the unlikely agency of Kishishev. The Bulgarian put in a fierce shot which was parried by Sorensen and the ball hit Mellberg and nearly went into his own net. The resultant corner was unproductive and when di Canio won a corner shortly afterwards, his corner was unusually poor.

Knight comes early to Valley

Summer time might be several hours away, but it was an early Knight at The Valley given the dubious decisions made by one of the most hapless referees in the Premiership. A dubious free kick was awarded in favour of Angel. Then Charlton won a free kick just in front of the 'D', but Jensen's effort came off a wall which seemed to include almost the entire Villa team. On 69 minutes Kishishev and di Canio were replaced by JJ and Bartlett. Luke Young blocked a dangerous ball from Barry when he was clean through at the expense of a Villa corner. Jason Euell's shorts fell down which just about summed the day up and a free kick was awarded for defective elastic.

Charlton's play was getting increasingly frantic with hopeful long balls pumped forward. They were also increasingly exposed at the back and a long range effort by Hendrie was only just over the bar. In a last attempt to turn things round, Chris Powell made his first appearance at The Valley since Boxing Day in place of Jason Euell. JJ put in a decent cross (or was it meant to be a shot?), but Carlton Cole just failed to connect. It all went off over a Charlton throw in and Hendrie and Konchesky both got a yellow, not helping our hopes of qualifying for Europe through the Fair Play route. Then Mellberg tripped JJ and referee Knight had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. With Euell and di Canio both off the pitch, the task of taking the corner fell to Jensen, although may be this would have been a time for Matt Holland to take responsibility as captain. Jensen approached the ball nervously and touched it before retreating, not a good sign. It was no surprise when he even failed to test Sorensen and blasted the ball over the bar. One of the worst performances I have seen by the Addicks this season and my mood was not improved by being surrounded by talkative Chel$ski fans on the train home.

UNLUCKY CHARLTON SLUMP TO SIXTH

Blimey, if you've got a beer gut like me, those stairs to the away section at Newcastle don't half take it out of you. Anyway I've brought my binoculars so I should be able to see who scores. Liverpool scoring against Wolves in the 90th minute was not good news as if it had stayed at 0-0, we would have only have to draw here to get back into 4th place. Birmingham losing at 'Boro was a boost, as was Villa losing at home, but if Newcastle beat us, we'll be down to 6th later this evening.

What a disaster! Shearer was able to nod Newcastle ahead within the first minute making use of a left-wing cross from Robert, perhaps reflecting our weakened central defence. Then Chris Perry had to put the ball out for a Newcastle corner. Robert swung it in, Fortune headed it out from just in front of the crossbar. The second corner came in, but Speed put it over the bar. Newcastle attacked down the left and won a throw by the corner flag, Charlton having hardly been in the game. Kishishev helped in the defence of the throw. Charlton got a free kick and Young fed the ball forward, but Newcastle cleared. However, it was more of a midfield battle now. Newcastle came forward again, but the Herminator kept the opposition under control. Kishishev over hit the ball and it bounced in front of Cole. However, at least Charlton were starting to get into the game a bit. Newcastle made a surging run down the left and were soon mounting another attack. Ambrose whipped a cross in, but there was no one there. The Newcastle throw was headed away by Chris Perry. Newcastle won a free kick ten or fifteen yards outside the Charlton box. Robert put in a dangerous strike, Deano made an excellent save and dived to push the ball round the post and concede a corner. A foul in Charlton's favour was given after the corner was taken. Charlton won a free kick for a foul on Fortune, followed by one inside the centre circle given against Shearer for a foul against Kishishev. Shearer made a lot of fuss about the award of a free kick and the referee had a word. Newcastle broke from the free kick and Konchesky had to clear.

Robert took a free kick for the home side, but Holland made a clearance. Fortune won a throw against Shearer. Holland needed treatment after a clash of heads. There was good link up play between di Canio, Cole and Konchesky and Charlton won their first corner. Fortune kept the ball in play, but Kishishev was dispossessed. Kishishev put a shot into the side netting after effective work by Cole who was causing Woodgate a few problems. Charlton mounted an attack, but Newcastle cleared and the Herminator had to deal with Shearer. Luke Young got into a bit of a tangle and Ameobi got a cross in. Jensen was getting into the game a bit more and the whole midfield was looking more effective. A cross from Jenas was blocked by Konchesky. Robert had a chance with a long throw level with the penalty area. Ameobi, in in place of Craig Bellamy, got in just in front of Fortune, but his header went just over.

Deano made a rather awkward clearance. Perry made a late challenge on Shearer and was shown the yellow card on 31 minutes. Charlton won a free kick for a challenge by Shearer to the indignation of the home fans. Shearer turned provider for Jenas but Deano made a comfortable save. Shearer won a high ball and knocked it down to the Ameobi. Charlton's defence was all over the place with Fortune on the ground and the ball rolled into the path of Jenas to make it 2-0 ten minutes before half time. A bitter blow when the Addicks had shown signs of getting back into the game. Cole was caught offside as the ball was launched over the Newcastle defence. Danger loomed with Shearer breaking, but there were enough red shirts in the box to help Deano out. Charlton had to head behind for a Newcastle corner which was fortunately unproductive. Newcastle forged forward again despite a poor clearance by Given, Kishishev having given the ball away in a promising position. A ball over the top led to another offside decision. Konchesky and di Canio combined well, but Hughes cleared for Newcastle. Charlton won a free kick for a challenge by Robert. As the game went into time added on, Charlton mounted an attack, but the ball did not fall well for Cole.

HT: Barcodes 2, Addicks 0

Bramble was brought on by Newcastle in place of Hughes after the break. Charlton won an immediate corner kick, it didn't quite fall for Cole or Holland, even so there was a great chance for Charton but Fortune stabbed it wide from six yards, although it may have been offside anyway. Cole put Given under some pressure, but then Newcastle attacked again, but a foul was given against Shearer. Jenas dispossessed Konchesky and Newcastle went forward, but Holland closed them down. Young got a yellow card for a late challenge on Bernard, although it was more badly timed than intentional. A sliding challenge from Perry at the expense of a corner dealt with a real threat from Newcastle. Kiely was able to fist the corner clear and Jensen won the throw for Charlton. The Herminator surged forward, but eventually the ball went out of play.

Mr Lux Scores

Konchesky put in a good cross and it was the luxury player (or so he is called by some, Wyn Grant tells me), Jensen, who scored once again for the Addicks. Charlton forged forward again well and won a free kick for a push on Luke Young. However, the ball went straight to Given. Newcastle started to resort to hopeful long balls rather than playing down the channels. Robert forged forward, despite a couple of challenges by Fortune and the Barcodes won a corner from a deflection off Luke Young. It took a while to clear the ball from the corner and Newcastle kept the pressure on. Jenas was blocked well by Perry after Shearer had trapped the ball. Newcastle won a free kick halfway in the Charlton half in a dead centre position. Charlton set up a three man defensive wall lined up by Konchesky. Robert hit it straight at the wall and Charlton launched a counter attack. Holland had a chance, but Woodgate made a vital interception. Charlton continued to press forward and then Newcastle again, end-to-end stuff.

Luke Young put in a good throw into the box, but it didn't fall well for Charlton and Newcastle cleared away. Shearer flicked on to Ameobi, but he put it well wide with Sir Bobby Robson kicking the turf in frustration. Curbs was giving instructions to JJ on the bench. Cole forged forward, but he ran out of space and Woodgate made the challenge. Kishishev was pulled off for JJ in an attacking move. Amoebi was penalised for tugging Fortune's shirt as the midway point in the half was reached. The home crowd got annoyed because a free kick was not given against Konchesky who made a fair challenge, recognised as such by referee Riley. Cole forged forward well again, but Newcastle countered, but only with a ball that went well over Deano's bar.

The Herminator and JJ combined well and Newcastle's defence caused trouble for Given. Charlton attacked again, but Carlton Cole was penalised. Jensen advanced again taking advantage of a great block by Chris Perry, Cole got the shot away, but it lacked sufficient power and Given dived to the right to save. Matt Holland made an important clearance from a Newcastle free kick.

Cruel penalty blow after Addicks nearly equalise

Charlton attacked again and won a corner. It was blocked on the line in an outstanding save by Given from Perry, Charlton's best chance of the half. Newcastle broke after the second corner when Carlton Cole was dispossessed. Newcastle were given a penalty for a challenge by Konchesky on Robert, a very dubious decision by Riley who had upped his methane intake. Shearer's effort was pushed on to the post by Deano but Shearer scored from the rebound to make it 3-1, a cruel blow after Charlton had come so close to equalising.

Charlton unlucky again

Charlton won a free kick. Lee Bowyer was brought on in place of Ambrose. Charlton won a corner. Jensen tried a shot, it fell to JJ and came back off the inside of the post from his attempt. Bartlett was brought on in place of Carlton Cole to give the Addicks some fresh legs, Cole having worked very hard throughout. Fortune made a good challenge on Ameobi. The Herminator made a trademark run down the left. Charlton kept possession but needed to find a way forward. JJ put in a cross and with Bartlett lurking Bramble put the ball over his own bar. The corner was not very convincing and was headed away. The Herminator put the ball back in, but Given collected. Jensen was dispossesed on the edge of the penalty area by Woodgate. The Herminator seemed to have picked up an injury, possibly to his thigh, which was worrying and Chris Powell was not ready to come on. Charlton had played well in the second half and were unlucky to lose 3-1, but the consequence was that they slumped into sixth place.

ONE GOAL, TWO TEAMS, THREE POINTS, FOURTH PLACE

A 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough at The Valley put the Addicks back in fourth place in the Premiership. Matt Holland's first half strike certainly qualified as a wonder strike and although the visitors did their best to get back into the game, Charlton withstood the pressure. Indeed, it was a highly committed performance by the Charlton players.

Of all the teams in the Premiership, 'Boro are probably the side of whom I have the least clear image. I neither like them nor dislike them. In the wake of their Carling Cup victory, however, the club was considerably hyped in terms of what passes for sports 'journalism' in the UK: 'potentially a massive club', 'poised to replace Newcastle as the top club in the football mad north-east' and other nonsense. What was clear was that, given the recent record of encounters between the two clubs, we could not expect a high scoring match and my forecast in the pub was 1-1. The weather before the match was dramatic enough, however: thunder and lightning and hailstones.

Charlton started the match looking as if they meant business with Carlton Cole contributing well to the pressure. Nevertheless, both Chris Perry and Luke Young were called on to make good tackles to stop 'Boro attacks developing. Indeed it was 'Boro who came close with their first attack. Zenden hit the post with Deano stranded. On 13 minutes di Canio turned provider for Carlton Cole and Schwarzer had to make a diving save to deal with the well hit shot. Paul Konchesky was lurking in the area of the keeper's parry, but Parnaby was able to clear. Di Canio put in a good cross but there was no one there to connect, perhaps suggesting that Carlton Cole was not always reading his intentions well. A potentially dangerous situation was well dealt with by Matt Holland.

Good work by Paul Konchesky set up Carlton Cole and allowed him to win a free kick in a potentially promising position. Jensen's effort led to a Charlton corner. Kishishev put in a shot that was just over the angle of the crossbar and post. Boateng put in a long range shot which was just wide of the post. I felt that he should have been closed down by Feesh. Then on 25 minutes Matt Holland won a loose ball in midfield. Charm merchant Frank Queudrue made a complete mess of the clearance while Holland drifted into an unmarked position. Di Canio pretended that he was going to take on Queudrue but in fact put in a clever angled pass to the skipper. He then curled a superb twenty-yard shot into the top corner of the goal, the ball dipping at just the right moment and leaving Schwarzer with no chance. The build up to the goal was excellent and it was superbly finished.

Good work by Jensen allowed him to turned provider for Kishishev, but the effort by 'Boris' (as the geographically challenged Bloke Behind Me insists on calling him) was just over. A Boro corner produced some pressure. A rather dubious 'Boro free kick in a dangerous position produced a goalmouth scramble but it was well defended and ended in a Charlton goal kick. A failed Charlton attack led to a good break by 'Boro with Deano having to save. 'Boro continued to pile on the pressure and after a good build up Deano was called on to save again. Cole gave away a foolish free kick to 'Boro and Zenden's effort came off the post. From the resultant 'Boro corner, Deano had to save on the line. As the half came to an end, Jensen turned provider for Carlton Cole, but his effort was over.

'Boro made a double substitution after the break, bringing on Nemeth and Maccarone in place of Doriva and Job. I was somewhat surprised by this change as it seemed to me that 'Boro had been playing well in the last quarter hour of the first half. However, Maccarone immediately tested the Charlton defence after being played through by Juninho, but the Herminator was on hand with an excellent tackle. Although referee Dean had quite a good game, he gave 'Boro a free kick for a blatant dive. Paolo then won a somewhat fortunate free kick on the curve of the D, but Jensen's effort was just over. On 59 minutes Carlton Cole was pulled off in favour of Bartlett, Cole returning petulantly to the dressing room. One could have argued that there was a case for taking di Canio off, but I'm not the manager. The Bloke Behind Me thinks he is or should be and went ballistic at this decision. From then on Curbs was in his sights as he forecast a 1-2 'Boro victory that would be entirely Curbishely's fault.

Bartlett went about his task with enthusiasm winning Charlton one of only four corners in the game. He then forged forward, shaking off the defence, but could only hit the side netting. The potential massives brought on Greening in place of Mendieta on 68 minutes. A 'Boro cross flashed dangerously across Deano's goal, but fortunately there was no one there to connect. On 72 minutes di Canio was replaced by JJ, the Italian remaining to see the rest of the match and saluting the crowd at the end. Jensen put in a good free kick and for a moment I thought that the Herminator was going to put a header in the goal, but he just failed to connect. 'Boro won two corners in succession. With the Bloke Behind Me screaming 'You'll never break from there', JJ and Holland did just that, but one-on-one with Schwarzer, Holland was unable to beat the keeper. Kishishev put in a great long distance diagonal pass to Konchesky, but he was ultimately unable to turn it into anything.

'Boro were increasingly forcing Charlton back and the midfield was too deep. Curbs was making increasingly frantic hand signals to try and get them to come forward, but this did not impress the BBM who declared that it was all Curbishley's fault in the first place. The linos seemed uninterested in a series of foul throws by 'Boro. Deano had to save on the line after 'Boro won a corner. Luke Young gave the ball away, something that was happening all too frequently, and Deano had to save once again. Kishishev made a good block. JJ and Bartlett broke and won a Charlton corner and the Herminator tried an impressive bicycle kick which was unfortunately not productive.

Three minutes of time were added on: it was difficult to see where they had come from. Jensen put in a terrible shot that was well wide. 'Boro won another corner and Deano had to save yet again. Matt Holland cleared the ball down the end of the field for a 'Boro throw in. The crowd were whistling frantically and at last the referee blew the whistle. (Thanks to Geoff from Dartford for the headline: he should be a sub-editor).

Wild scenes on Jubilee

This was an important win for Charlton because it stopped the fear of an end of season slump. The mood in the pub afterwards was particularly buoyant. On the bus back to North Greenwich I was interviewed by a South African journalist who wanted my thoughts about the club's long connection with South Africa. As we went into the station, a chant of 'There's only one Uncle Albert' resonanted around the hall as a well known Chilterns addick was spotted. On the tube itself, Geoff2 from Stourbridge regaled us with his imitations of Black Country accents. This soon had the carriage rocking with mirth, not an easy feat on the tube, including a young Brazilian who introduced himself. Happy days: now to Solihull Borough for the women's semi-final.

Half time: Gooners 2, Addicks 0

Charlton started the half quite brightly with Young forging forward, but then Jensen was caught in an offside position. Kiely was bundled into the back of the net with the ball by Ljungberg and Charlton got a free kick. Stuart made a good break and flicked the ball into Jensen but he was unable to make good use of it. Bergkamp forged through, but the flag had gone up anyway. Cole got past Campbell,a cross in from Young, but Arsenal finally recovered. Charlton then got a throw in right in the corner taken by the Herminator. Arsenal tried to break, but the Addicks got men back. Charlton got their second corner of the afternoon. The keeper punched di Canio's corner away and eventually Arsenal cleared with a Lehmann catch. Kishishev allowed the Woolwich rejects to break, but the attack ended in a goal kick.

Paolo wins free kick: Jensen scores

As the hour approached Di Canio made a great mazy run forward and got beyond three Arsenal players then won a free kick about six yards from the penalty area just left of the D. The Addicketd chanted the great man's name. Jensen's curler went off the post and in, leaving Lehmann with no chance to make it 2-1. Pires turned provider for Henry immediately after the re-start, but Deano saved with his legs. Lungbjerg won a free kick for Arsenal just a yard outside the penalty area, but Viera headed wide missing a good opportunity to make it 3-1. Di Canio and Jensen combined in a Charlton attack, but Cole enabled Arsenal to counter attack. Luke Young successfully intervened, but the attack continued. Lungbjerg complained to Barber that he had been fouled. The Arsenal corner was cleared by Stuart and di Canio. Arsenal got a free kick off the Herminator twelve yards outside the box. Henry's effort took a touch from Deano, giving the Gooners another (their tenth) corner taken by Edu. Carlton Cole headed away and a few snow flakes were seen.

An effort by Henry was deflected by Young and came off the bar. Arsenal got two corners in succssion as they started to exert more pressure. Carlton Cole glanced it away and Jensen broke. He won a free kick decision against Viera. Then as Young broke away, a sliding challenge by Ashley Cole gave the Addicks another free kick. Di Canio curled it in, Edu cleared with a header, Stuart put in a poor cross and Arsenal counter attacked but the Addicks had men back. With renewed Charlton pressure, the Addicks won a corner. Kishishev was about to come off in favour of Konchesky. Then Stuart was seen holding his hamstring and the stretcher came on, but he seemed to be ok to continue. Charlton won a second corner. Charlton continued the pressure, but Lehmann was able to throw out quickly. It went to a Charlton player, but ended in a goal kick. Bergkamp went off and Reyes came on. Lungjberg was replaced by Gilberto.

Cole put in an excellent cross and Stuart had a great chance to equalise but it curled just in front of him and he directed his header across the face of goal. As the game went on into the last quarter hour, JJ came on to replace Kishishev. The library was hushed. Henry evaded Fortune and put in a cross but Feesh defended well and headed off the line. Carlton Cole put in a good challenge to break up an Arsenal attack, but Viera got the ball off Jensen. Charlton launched an attack on the right, but Stuart's cross drifted behind. Luke Young put in a good cross and Lehmann but was able to use his finger tips to deny JJ. The Herminator made a strong run and Charlton won a throw in near the flag. Jensen had a chance with the spinning ball, but volleyed it wide. Arsenal continued to look nervous. A promising Charlton attack ended up when Carlton Cole was judged to have fouled Toure. Lauren gave it away to Jensen, but Arsenal were able to clear for a throw in. Pires was taken off and Cygan was brought on to strengthen the Gooners defence. A foul on Stuart by Viera was ignored by the referee.

JJ hits post

Charlton made another effort as 90 minutes were reached. Charlton got a free kick for a foul on the Herminator. Arsenal managed to clear, but Charlton still pressed forward. As Feesh and Fortune pressed forward, a classic overhead bicycle kick by JJ came off the post. Arsenal broke but were unable to score. No one could fault the spirit of the Addicks, especially in the second half, but the points went to the champions designate.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

EARLY LEAVERS MISS THE MAGIC

BBM: 'Why did you sign the contract Curbishley?'

A professional magician was part of a pre-match hospitality package on February 21st, but early leavers from Charlton's game against Blackburn missed the magic. Some had already left before Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel audaciously equalised for the visiting northerners, but in the last gasp of the game Claus Jensen made it 3-2 for the Addicks. Charlton looked as if they had been coasting towards victory after two goals in the first half from Carlton Cole and Jason Euell put them 2-0 ahead, but an error by Kishishev let Blackburn back in the game. The substitution of Carlton Cole by match winner Jensen was highly controversial and had the Bloke Behind Me screaming, 'Why did you sign the contract Curbishley?'

The omens were good for the match. In mid-week Leamington had beaten Coventry Sphinx 3-0 in a fourth versus third clash, prompting the opening of champagne on the Harbury Lane pitch to celebrate the defeat of the Inscrutables. I got a new pair of lucky football socks on Valentine's Day, my others having worn out. And coming through what the Casino Avenue blogger calls the 'yuppie village', all the lights were in favour of the 161 for the first time ever. There was a large group from Dundee in the pub, all down just to see di Canio's magic. Even something I had never expected to see, pitch announcer Brian Cole silenced (by a sound failure) did not take the gloss off the day.

The teams changed ends at the start of the match so were attacking the Covered End which I always feel is where we score most goals (although no doubt a statto could prove otherwise). A lively C(h)arlton Cole had an early attempt, firing a 25 yard shot after turning inside Babbel, but it was well over. Graham Stuart handled the ball well, but Cole was caught offside as he sometimes is. Luke Young was also playing well and Matt Holland chased down well to halt a Blackburn attack. Di Canio played the ball into Stuart who won a Charlton corner. Carlton Cole burst into the area to take advantage of a left-wing cross from di Canio. 'There's no one there', screamed the Bloke Behind Me. Well, there wasn't apart from Carlton Cole himself who executed a neat turn, evading two Rovers defenders and put a left footed stunner past Friedel into the top corner of the net. The Addicks were 1-0 ahead after ten minutes and the stunned expression on Friedel's face was a sight to behold.

Charlton suffered a blow on fourteen minutes when Feesh had to be withdrawn with fin damage, perhaps similar to what one of the fish in our pond appeared to be suffering from in the morning. He was replaced by Fortune. An error by Charlton allowed Emerton to put in a dangerous angled shot, but an alert Deano was able to tip it over the bar. Blackburn were able to follow up their first corner with a second. They then missed a chance in front of goal. It then all went off in the nineteenth minute in front of the East Stand. First, Cole had gone down after competing for a header with charm merchant Andy Todd and then Flitcroft appears to have shoved di Canio in the face. The Italian reacted angrily and other players became involved. Uriah Rennie is often criticised as a referee, but he calmed the situation down and did not issue any cards.

A poor ball by the lamentable Kishishev allowed Blackburn to advance. Then more poor defending by the Bulgarian international allowed Blackburn white hot hope Stead to put in a fifteen yarder which came off the post. Blackburn withdrew Flitcroft and brought on Tugay. Blackburn won a corner, but the Bloke Beside Me declared that the Addicks were weathering the storm. Hreidarsson and Stuart were working well together on the wing and a left-wing cross from Stuart was given by di Canio to Euell who was speeding into the area. He had no difficulty in putting into the net from point blank range. Some thought there was a possible hint of offside, but Rennie made the right decision. 2-0 after 36 minutes. A furious Friedel yelled at his defence and pointed at his head.

Matt Holland put in a good shot, but it was deflected by Friedel for a corner. With Kishishev beaten once again and Deano out of his goal, danger loomed but the Blackburn shot went over the bar, Deano having probably done just enough to distract the attacker. The half ended with two Charlton corners in succession.

Souness brought on Andy Cole in place of Stead after the break. Carlton Cole put in an effort that was just over the bar. He then broke down the left well, but his cross was overhit. An error led Deano to have to make a save. Cole put in a ball right across the front of goal, but fortunately no Blackburn player was able to connect. Graham Stuart allowed Carlton Cole and di Canio to break free, but they were the victims of a dubious offside decision. Chris Perry put in a good ball to Carlton Cole which led to a Charlton corner. Souness played his last card and brought on Dwight Yorke in place of Todd who left the pitch to scattered boos. Kishishev put in a good ball to Stuart who won a Charlton corner and Fortune's powerful header was not far wide. Kishishev combined with Stuart again to win the Addicks a corner again. Chris Perry made a vital clearance from a Blackburn attack, but received an injury and for a short period Charlton were playing with ten men.

The pressure from Blackburn continued. Deano spilt the ball and an alert Euell had to clear at the expense of a Blackburn corner. Good work from Stuart gave di Canio a shooting opportunity, but he was just wide. Then on 74 minutes Kishishev put in a poor and avoidable back pass, turning provider for Andy Cole. He got round Deano and although Chris Perry made a valiant tackle he was able to put the ball in the net at the second attempt to make it 2-1. Charlton were now under pressure and Blackburn won a corner which was taken short. Curbishley's response to the situation was surprising to say the least. He withdrew the lively Carlton Cole and replaced him with Jensen.

Charlton did manage to mount an attack which led to a corner which was taken short. Jensen then burst through and was one on one with Friedel, but allowed the keeper to save, missing the opportunity to put the match beyond doubt at 3-1. Blackburn piled on the pressure again, winning two corners in succession. Deano had to tip a shot over the bar. Before the corner could be taken, the tiring di Canio was replaced by Konchesky. Brad Friedel came up the field. Gallagher's ball deflected off the hapless Kishishev and the keeper put the ball in the net to make it 2-2. I have never seen a keeper score from open play before. What did the basketball fans from Pittsburgh in the north-west corner make of it? Did they think this was a regular occurrence?

With just two minutes added on, all now seemed lost, particularly after Kishishev blasted a shot over in a forlorn attempt to redeem himself. Then a Holland free kick was headed on by the Herminator to Jensen who was through on goal. Although Friedel got a hand to the Danish international's clever lob, he could not stop it going into the back of the net. The Addickted went beserk. After the match di Canio jumped on to a police officer and embraced him. Little did he know that minutes later an excitable spaniel would be jumping over him with a silver bone in his mouth. An exciting game and a vital three points, but one wonders what has happened to our ability to keep a clean sheet.

Visited by Addickted

Links for the Addickted

Official Charlton web site: It comes, it goes, it gets re-designed, but it's the authentic voice of The Valley!
Casino Avenue: My favourite blog. Charlton reports and the angst-ridden contemporary urban life of the SE7 based blogger
Political Economy of Football: Business side of football
My home page: Memories of watching Charlton in the 1950s
Archived match reports: Allows you to access archived match reports dating back to 1997