Charlton won another three points on the road against a relegation threatened club, beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 with a first half strike from captain Matt Holland. The Addicks dominated the first half and Danny Murphy had a chance to make it 2-0 just before the break, but his shot was inches wide. A rejuvenated Albion put the Addicks under pressure in the second half, although that pressure could have been relieved if Shaun Bartlett had not shot wide when he had the chance to put the ball into an open goal. The Addicks defence held firm, and although they were forced back into their own half, they eventually came back into the game more to hold on for the three points.
As no doubt it will have been noticed anyway, it has to be admitted that we accepted a lift to the ground with B*ian C*le who is regarded in some club circles as being 'unmutual'. Visiting England's highest ground, we had hoped to enjoy the purity of the air, but where we parked was surrounded by factories belching out steam and smoke in an area that was a cradle of the industrial revolution. Various signs warned of poison and corrosive substances, some of which seem to have permeated the Baggies squad to judge from their standard of play.
When we got to the Hawthorns, the Baggies were having some difficulty with their hi tech turnstiles, no doubt installed by some local metal bashing company. The turnstiles would not accept concessionary tickets, but we were assured that it would soon be 'all reet'. Supervisors had to override the swipe system.
It was a pleasure to meet Boston sports reporter Doug Chapman
who was also acting as mace bearer for the day for the Mayor of Welling, Rick Everitt. Doug is now writing a book on American soccer and is also expecting to accept a position teaching two courses on sports management at a Massachusetts university.
The Baggies announcer had great difficulty with the names of some of our squad. Hreidarsson was rendered as something like 'Herbertson'. Even more amusing were the various attempts to pronounce El Karkouri's name which was rendered either as 'Croakery' or 'Kerkerey'.
The Baggies won an early free kick which burst through the wall, but Deano went down to save the ball comfortably. Thomas then won two corners for the Addicks and was then brought down in the box, but it was probably not a penalty. Charlton seemed to be up for it and were really fighting for the ball. A dangerous cross came in from Deano's left but the keeper gathered the ball in very well.
An Albion free kick in front of the 'D' came off the Charlton wall. Thomas was fouled again and then Luke Young won Charlton a corner. There was a moment of danger when Deano was stranded at his near post, but Murphy was well positioned at the far post to stop the ball rolling into the net and to clear it away from danger.
Charlton continued to threaten with Thomas a danger man. Luke Young won the Addicks a free kick and Matt Holland was well positioned in front of goal to take advantage of the opportunity subsequent play offered. As the half hour approached, the captain made no mistake with a forceful strike into the centre of the net.
The Baggies tried to score a quick equaliser, but Kishishev went in went to snuff out the danger. Deano was called on to make a good save. Thomas won the Addicks another corner. Kishishev put in a totally wild shot which went well wide of the Albion goal.
The Herminator provided some good defensive work, but he was pushed to allow the Baggies to win a rare corner. Kishishev was on hand to dispose of the ball. The Baggies were booed off at half time by their own supporters.
Half time: Baggies 0, Addicks 1
Early Charlton pressure once again involved Jerome Thomas. After a Charlton free kick, there was a period of pinball in front of the home goal with the ball going all over the place, Murphy eventually putting it into the side netting. Another chance to give the Addicks a decisive lead had slipped away.
Then good work in which Thomas displayed his sublime skills once again set up Bartlett in front of goal with Hoult stranded at the near post. Somehow the Springbok managed to send it wide of the far post.
This setback gave the Baggies some of a psychological boost and they won a free kick in a promising position which they managed to convert into a corner. Before and after the corner the ball was up in the air and could have landed anywhere. While air traffic controllers issued warnings to aircraft using Birmingham Airport, Charlton eventually managed to clear it with a free kick.
Charlton were now losing the ball far too easily and playing far too deep. They might have been in more trouble if so many of the West Brom players were not what the local radio station called 'show ponies' after the game. Cosmin Contra was pulled off and replaced by Koumas.
However the Baggies were still unable to put together a really decisive move which is why I think that gloomsters around me were too pessimistic when they forecast an imminent Albion goal followed by another to secure a 2-1 defeat. I had told Charlton Live
before the match that I expected a 0-1. Although it was edge of the seat stuff for the Addickted, and not very exciting to watch, my sense was that Charlton knew what they were doing.
Rommedahl was not really suited to this kind of rugged play and Konchesky was brought on in his place. Deano had to punch the ball out from an Albion corner. Bartlett threw away a chance with a useless cross, instead of holding the ball up and awaiting for support to arrive. Konchesky won the Addicks a corner.
With West Brom winning another corner, Curbs decided to pull off Thomas and steady the ship with the expertise of Hughes. As the 90 minute mark was reached, Robson deployed his tactical master stroke and brought on Horsfield in place of Gera. With three minutes of time added on, 'Croakery' displayed his defensive skills, but Charlton were running the match again. As the Addickted celebrated, frustrated Baggies booed their team off.
Match analyst Hooch the Pooch
has awarded the Silver Bone
to Jerome Thomas
for another skilled and committed performance. Deano
was not put under tremendous pressure from the Baggies strike force, but what he had to do he did well and with calm authority. Fortune
had a tendency to hoof the ball, but at least he put it out of danger. El Karkouri
is a rock at the heart of the defence and also has the potential to cause trouble with his long distance free kicks. Hrediarsson
was once again impressive, snuffing out a number of attacks by the Baggies. Luke Young
continues to be an increasingly impressive player, surging forward in a number of threatening attacks. Kishishev
made only one significant error and displayed some good ball control. Murphy
is increasingly doing the business, both in terms of assists and defence. Holland
showed strength and determination in midfield. His goal was well taken. Rommedahl
did not shine. A question remains about whether the Charlton team has enough quality to bring out the best in him, a point made before the match by an Addick who is involved with Eastbourne Borough. Bartlett
had a poor game. Is he really the right person to be up front in a 4-5-1 formation? Konchesky
has the right qualities when a sub needs to be brought on to battle hard and control the ball and this is what he did. Hughes
had a cameo role in the closing minutes of the game, but managed to win a useful free kick.
Juneau the Soccer Cat
was originally going to give the Hiss of the Match
to the Baggies crowd who whinged at every decision by referee Foy who managed to control the match well and keep it flowing without awarding a single card. However, it all kicked off outside the ground afterwards and later reports by Radio WM suggested that it had started in the Smethwick End with Albion fans fighting among themselves about the performance of their team, bringing a flavour of the 1970s outside afterwards.
Although it was difficult to match their performance at Palace, the Addickted were in good voice. It's always a good sign when there is a chorus of 'Goodbye Horse'. However, a Black Country Addick had to be restrained from singing 'jingle bells' before the points were in the bag. 7/10/