Saturday, January 14, 2006

Addicks hold firm for victory

Charlton secured the double over another relegation threatened club with a 2-0 win over Birmingham City at The Valley this afternoon. Bryan Hughes put the Addicks 1-0 ahead after 28 minutes with a header from a corner. Birmingham stepped up the pressure in the second half and no doubt there will be criticisms of Charlton for defending too deeply. But a slender lead was no time for taking risks and the Addicks stood firm. I forecast to the Bloke Beside Me that we would score on the break and so it proved with a brilliant solo effort by Darren Bent in time added on.

We knew that the Blews were in town once we got to Marylebone as there was a large contingent of police there waiting to greet the Millwall of the Midlands. Coming into Charlton, we saw a number of Rickshaws, all full and one bearing the legend 'Stocks Green' wherever that is. The Rickshaw has now been running for a year. All credit to Rick Everitt and his team for having the idea for this successful service and seeing it through. Before the game, Hooch the Pooch presented Cllr. Everitt with a silver plated model of a bus and a miniature replica of the mace of the Mayor of Welling.

Danny Murphy was again absent from the line up, provoking renewed speculation that he may be on his way north. Although I would like him to stay, I would not be devastated by the disappearance of the sulky Scouser and his glamour puss wife.

Hreidarsson was injured early in the game by charm merchant Sutton and although he recovered, I wonder if the knock he took to his head affected his performance for the rest of the game which was not up to his best standards. I thought that Charlton were creating unnecessary danger by making too many back passes to Myhre, although he dealt with them with his usual confidence.

Blews won a rather doubtful corner. The defence seemed slow to respond and Jarosik put the ball just wide. Another Blews corner was partially cleared, but the ball was played in again with the Czech midfielder again putting the ball wide. Finishing is fortunately not Birmingham's strong suit.

Following a series of throw ins on the left side involving Chris Powell, Charlton won their first corner. Rommedahl's delivery was excellent and Hughes was on hand to head the ball home against his old club on 29 minutes.

Fortune had to put the ball behind for a Blews corner. Kishishev lost the ball through dithering, but he is not the only Charlton player to be too hesitant. A Rommedahl run created an opportunity for Holland, but his shot was rising and went over the bar. Birmingham won a corner from a break and put in a shot that was just over. After a good tackle to win the ball, Luke Young bore down on goal and justifiably had a go, but his shot went well wide.

Half time: Addicks 1, Blews 0

Hughes put in an early effort that was just wide. An error by Fortune put Myhre under pressure from Heskey, but he made a good save. A careless Hreidarsson lost the ball. Birmingham won a couple of corners with another shot going just past the post.

There was a call from the crowd for a Blews hand ball in the area, but I didn't have a clear view. Fortune was booked for what looked like a fair challenge to me and Blews won a free kick on the edge of the area. Despite the ball coming off a Birmingham player, Blews were awarded a corner as referee Poll took a strong draught of methane and the lino looked for his contact lenses.

The man on the run, Pennant, was proving a potential threat on the left, but Hughes denied him very effectively. A Blews free kick came off the Charlton wall. As Poll was overcome by the effects of Earth gravity and too much methane, Blews were awarded another highly dubious free kick.

On 72 minutes Rommedahl was pulled off in favour of Ambrose to the disgust of the row behind me with shouts of 'rubbish, Curbishley'. In fact it seemed to me to be entirely sensible. Rommedahl had faded in the second half and Ambrose would bring some needed bite to the Charlton effort.

Fortune had to concede a corner to deal with a dangerous cross and Myhre punched the ball out. Birmingham showed they were going for it by bringing on Dunn and Forssel on 75 minutes. Ambrose made an excellent run and created a Charlton corner but Taylor caught the ball.

In a mystifying substitution Kishishev was taken off and replaced by Lisbie on 83 minutes. Bent played in an excellent ball to his best friend Ambrose, but his shot went well over. As full time approached, Bent made a curious error, playing the ball back to his own goal and putting Myhre under pressure, but he saved well from Sutton.

In the three minutes of time added on, Bent burst downfield, outpacing Melchiot and confidently putting the ball past Taylor to make it 2-0.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch awarded the Silver Bone to Thomas Myhre. It was another inspired performance by the keeper who made some excellent saves to keep Charlton in the game. Jon Fortune had probably his best game since his return to the starting line up, intercepting well. Unusually Hreidarsson made a few unforced mistakes. Luke Young was solid without being outstanding and had an attempt on goal. Fears had been expressed before the game about how well Chris Powell would cope with the pace of Pennant, but in fact he displayed a good understanding with Hughes and reads the game well, showing excellent judgement. The detractors of Kishishev are vociferous and he gave them some ammunition today by making two potentially dangerous errors. However, he showed spirit and determination. Holland functioned well and is showing an appetite for goal. Hughes is also a target of the boo boys, but his goal was well taken and he slotted into the side well. The pace of Rommedahl caused some problems for the visitors and he showed some real skill and even an willingness to get stuck in. Bartlett was tireless, covering great distances in attack and defence and always looking for a chance to contribute. The goal by Bent was a classic, but he did make a serious error shortly beforehand. Ambrose was a good substitution, but it's a shame he didn't take his chance to score better. Lisbie came on and ambled around, looking to see if anyone would give him the directions to Norwich.

Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to referee Graham Poll who missed no opportunity to use his whistle rather than let the game flow. The Covered End made their views about his refereeing known in no uncertain terms which were more vigorous than the familiar change of Onanism.

Crowd rating: Did their best to boost the team for much of the match, even a chant of 'Hughesie'. 7/10.


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