The Addicks crashed to a 4-0 defeat at the City of Manchester Stadium, replicating their earlier defeat in the north-west, but without the consolation goal. Indeed, another consolation at the Reebok had been that Bolton had looked like a very good side, but for all the skill of Anelka and Wright-Phillips, this could not be said of the Manchester City side as a whole. This was a woeful performance by the Addicks that made the Massives looked good. Once again our frailities in central defence were exposed and one has to ask why El Karkouri and the evidently out-of-favour Perry did not start. However, the shapeless midfield were of little help and no Charlton player could be said to have performed with any distinction. It seemed that the plan was to start cautiously and not concede an early goal, but once that happened, there didn't appear to a Plan B. Murphy failed to seize a chance to make it 1-1. Once you go 2-0 down away from home, you are always chasing the game and are liable to concede more goals as you expose yourself at the back as you attempt to get back into the match.
Collected by pitch announcer Brian Cole
we made good progress towards the stadium, aided by his global positioning system. We were in optimistic mood, although match analyst Hooch the Pooch in the back of the car was unusually subdued. We thought we had found a good place to park up (see Hiss of the Match below) and safely delivered Hooch to a somewhat baffled press steward. We negotiated the electronic turnstiles safely, although Brian Cole failed in his attempt to obtain cashback (perhaps he already had an inkling of how things would turn out).
I thought that both teams were poor in the opening phase. City gave notice of their early intentions with a corner won by Anelka, but it went for a Manchester City throw in and Kishishev was able to intervene to clear. My forebodings about the central defence were eased when Feesh made a clearance and Fortune stood up well to Anelka. But then, as City forged forward, Feesh was caught out and Kiely was left exposed. I thought the ball might go outside the post, but Anelka had chosen his spot well and it was 1-0 to City.
Charlton launched a sequence of attacks, but each of them was snuffed out. But then, after a Charlton throw in, Murphy was given a good chance but somehow managed to put the ball over. The lively Kevin Lisbie managed to win a Charlton corner. In one of their best spells in the match, Charlton kept up the pressure. Kishishev put in a shot but it was straight at James in the City goal. Indeed, for much of the game James was so little troubled that he could easily have got his sketch pad out or read one of his art books.
City were awarded a free kick, after Feesh was adjudged to have fouled. The referee then gave City a corner when it looked like a goal kick. Euell and Kishishev protested vigorously, but to no avail. But the referee must have had second thoughts because once the corner had been taken, he gave Charlton a rather generous free kick. City came back again, but Fortune provided some good defensive work to deal with Fowler. Luke Young then made a complete mess of defending a ball right in front of goal, slipping on the heavily watered surface, the ball bounced off Deano and presented itself to Sinclair to make it 2-0. If Deano had smothered the ball in the first place, the goal would probably not have been scored and Charlton would still have had a chance of getting something out of the game.
Feesh had to deal with a City corner with a header. Jeffers was brought down and Charlton won a free kick. Busy Kevin Lisbie won Charlton a corner. However, neither of these opportunities led to anything and, following more defensive confusion, Deano had to push the ball behind the post.
HT: Massives 2, Addicks 0
A Jeffers header was turned over for a Charlton corner, but it was played out. A Charlton free kick was not productive and although Charlton were producing a number of attempts to attack the City goal, now in front of the Addickted, they simply petered out. Murphy received a yellow card. As Charlton attempted to press forward, Manchester City broke and their pace was simply too much for Feesh and Kishishev. Anelka was able to make it 3-0.
Twenty minutes into the half, Curbs decided to make three substitutions. He took off Kishishev, Rommedahl and Fortune and brought on Konchesky, Johansson and El Karkouri. It was a bold move, perhaps almost a desperate one, but the substitutes did add something to the quality of Charlton's play, if only a greater determination. But by then it was too late: the match was effectively over. Why not make a couple of the substitutions at half-time?
JJ quickly won Charlton a corner, but the out of sorts Murphy over hit it and it went out of play. City won a free kick not too far outside the area, but it was not productive. Konchesky put a good ball in across the front of the City goal, but there was no one there to take advantage of it. City pulled off Joey Barton and brought on Steve McManaman. JJ won Charlton another corner, this time taken by Konchesky rather than the hapless Murphy.
The Massives had gone beserk every time Wright-Phillips had touched the ball and this time his speed allowed him to burst through and make it 4-0 to complete Charlton's humiliation. After that, although JJ continued to do all he could, it really was game over. In previous seasons, Charlton have done better on their travels than at home. The key to that was a solid defence which was difficult to break down and it is something we now seem to be lacking. The remedy has to be starting with a different line up in central defence.
As we walked away from the ground, one Massive said to another, 'Charlton will have better days and we will have worse days.' They don't get much worse than this!