Charlton were simply outclassed in their disappointing 1-2 defeat at The Valley by Liverpool in front of the biggest home crowd for twenty-seven years. A Bryan Hughes error gave the visitors a goal, but Liverpool had a number of chances they missed, while others were denied by Deano. The Addicks in contrast rarely looked threatening in front of goal, despite a good goal by Bartlett from a corner by Murphy which put them 1-0 ahead in the first half. I was concerned that the demanding cup tie against Yeovil would take something out of them and this proved to be the case. Liverpool played well, reflecting the quality of many of their players, but this was a case of the glass being half empty rather than half full.
Liverpool threatened early in the game when Deano stopped a shot from Garcia, but Gerrard was able to take advantage of the rebound, his shot bouncing off the crossbar. Charlton seemed to be making more than a few mistakes and losing possession, but then Murphy won the Addicks a corner which he went to take. He was greeted with warm applause by the visiting fans which they may have regretted when he put in a perfect corner which was authoritatively converted by Bartlett to make it 1-0 on 20 minutes. The rare cry of 'There's only one Shaun Bartlett' was heard from the Covered End.
Hughes powered in, but his effort did not really test Dudek. Gerrard put in a shot which perhaps Deano did not have to save at the cost of a Liverpool corner which Konchesky was able to clear leading to a Charlton break. Liverpool put in one of a number of wide shots from distance, but then Deano had to make a good save from Morientes who had been set up by Gerrard. A Liverpool corner was played back cleverly into the danger zone, but the effort went just over the bar.
Murphy put in a well judged free kick which was converted by the Herminator and had to be pushed out of play by Dudek. On this occasion, however, Murphy's corner was not a good one. Bartlett put in a great pass to Thomas, but he was dispossessed as happened a number of times during the game. Nevertheless, Charlton had at least held their own in the first half.
Half time: Addicks 1, Liverpool 0
Liverpool came out fired up for the second half and Charlton were soon under the cosh. Deano came off his line to deny Baros and both players required treatment. Riise was looking threatening and he made good use of an excellent ball from Garcia to put in a drive which Deano had to tip over the crossbar. Liverpool's corner was eventually cleared after some action in the goalmouth.
Another Liverpool corner was eventually cleared and Thomas, who seemed a little out of his depth, was replaced on 59 minutes by Kishishev. A corner won by Riise was cleared by Fortune. Then Charlton found themselves in trouble. Hreidarsson managed to partially clear, but Hughes played the ball to Morientes who had no trouble in finding the top corner of the net to make it 1-1 on 61 mnutes.
Paul Konchesky powered in, but his effort was saved. Traore then had to challenge Murphy to deny him a chance of scoring. The Charlton corner was unproductive, a throw in leading to a limp ball by Kishishev. On 66 minutes Hughes was replaced by Euell. Luke Young was called on for an important clearance. A blatant foul on El Karkouri led to nothing more than a free kick from a smiling Mr Barry. This absence of action was followed by a cynical foul on Murphy.
Deano had to turn over a shot from distance at the expense of a corner. The Addicks then had a good build up, but it was wasted by Kishishev who put the ball wide with his left foot when perhaps he could have passed. Deano had to clear another shot.
On 77 minutes Matt Holland was withdrawn in favour of Jeffers. Within a minute, Morientes turned provider, Riise putting in a low drive to make it 1-2.
The Addicks tried to get back into the game, but it was often a case of hit and hope with the long ball. They also were caught by offside decisions and had a number of free kicks awarded against them. However, Liverpool were far from completely confident as was shown by the substitution of two players in the three minutes of time added on. Surely such substitutions should not be permitted except when a keeper is injured?
No one could argue with the comment by Benitez that in the second half Liverpool controlled the game. His remark that it was Liverpool's best away performance for forty years is perhaps a little more suprising. Most fans were optimistic before the game, so it was a particularly disappointing night.
It was back to the steady paws of senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch
for this vital game, but he had some difficulty in selecting a winner of the Silver Bone
in the absence of a really outstanding performance from any member of the squad. However, Paul Konchesky
made a positive and reliable contribution throughout the match so the award went to him. Deano
made some great stops without which Liverpool could have won by a bigger margin, but he also let two goals in. Fortune
did have some good moments but one is still left with the feeling that he is not quite good enough against top class opposition. El Karkouri's
free kicks failed to delight in the way that they often do. Hreidarsson
had something of an off game with some curiously limp throw ins. Young
was once again one of the better players on the park which is not something we would have been saying a year or two again, although his ball control did let him down once. Hughes
looked dejected when he left the pitch as well he might, but he had one or two nice touches earlier in the game. Holland
was also withdrawn early, an unusual step. His contribution is usually quiet but nevertheless important and efficient, but perhaps he was a little below his best. Thomas
was also pulled off. He was hustled off the ball too easily and needs more strength to match his skill. Match analyst Monty Martin
made some controversial criticisms of Thomas in the Yeovil report, but he may have had a point. Murphy
was strong and determined throughout, but in line with some pre-match comments by Curbs perhaps almost tried too hard. He seemed to drift out of position in the second half. Bartlett
was as tireless as ever, but he can't do everything and was often stranded up front with no support within twenty yards of him. Kishishev
fluffed more than one chance when he came on. Euell
contributed very little when he came on as a substitute.
also made very little impact although perhaps he wasn't getting the kind of service he needs.
Hiss of the Match
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the award to the Bloke Behind Me.
Having sat elsewhere for the cup games, I had forgotten what a pain he is. When the team are making mistakes you don't want him pointing out every one of them (and some that aren't mistakes) as well as shouting 'Sort it aht, Curbishley.'
The Addickted were in good form and kept up a barrage of noise throughout the match. 8/10