Sunday, December 11, 2005

Unpretty win

Charlton Athletic 2 Sunderland 0

Three points won, but it wasn't very pretty to watch. Goals from Darren Bent (seen just after scoring, left) just before half time, and Darren Ambrose just after half time secured the win, though rock-bottom Sunderland made a good fight of it and would have hoped to have got a result with more luck. Official match report here.

Curbs made changes to the starting eleven once more; Radostan Kishishev duly came back into the starting team after his one-match ban, and Jerome Thomas also started the match. It had little effect on the way the team played initially, once more they were slow out of the blocks. The game wasn't really going anywhere, being described on radio and by the guys behind me as dire. Then, just a couple of minutes before half time, Jerome Thomas picked the ball up near the half way line after a failed Charlton attack, came inside but mis-controlled the ball. He dived in to win it before a Sunderland player and the ball broke to Danny Murphy. Rekindling memories of his best form, Murphy turned and threaded a beautiful pass through the centre backs to Darren Bent who cooly stroked the ball into the far corner of the net.

Half time came and the crowd and team were both obviously lifted. Soon after the re-start, a strange second goal took Charlton clear. The ball was played in from the right wing, and Darren Ambrose swung the ball goalwards at the near post. From my seat, it appeared that the ball went for a corner, rebounding back onto the pitch from the advertising hoardings. However, in reality, it had hit the post, and then hit a Sunderland defender, who remained transfixed with the ball at his feet. Ambrose reacted quickest, stole the ball from him and prodded it into an empty net. 2-0, and the crowd happy.

This could have been bad news for Charlton though, and the upbeat crowd suddenly started to get edgy, remembering previous defeats from two goal cushions.

Curbs decided to shut up shop very early, replacing the tireless Smertin - who had a good game - with Hughes, and Thomas - who also tried to be heavily involved throughout - with El Karkouri in a re-shuffled, less adventurous, midfield. Darren Bent was also subbed (for Shaun Bartlett), but this may have been due to a knock he received early in the match.

Charlton hardly had an attack in the last twenty minutes or so, preferring to soak up waves of pressure. During this period, Sunderland had two big shouts for a penalty (one foul and one handball) but neither moved the ref. Deano also made one outstanding one handed save, and a couple more sharp stops, during the final part of the game.

It wasn't very pretty, in fact it was downright negative tactics from Charlton, but in the end the points were won, and the club and fans will go into Christmas with another home win.

Man of the match was hard to figure - Kishishev had an excellent first half, as did Smertin. The defence was better, though not convincing, and Deano kept a clean sheet (the clubs first since September). Out wide, Ambrose disappeared for long periods of the game, and Thomas found it hard to get past his marker. Bent chased everything, but had little to work with. My choice therefore goes to Chris Powell, who had a good game throughout, and looked fitter than he has done for some time.

The best news of all though, was that the usual two idiots who sit behind me didn't come, and two new guys took their seats. These guys were not die-hard Charlton or Sunderland supporters I think, but wanted to see a Premiership game; they made reasonable comments throughout - if it was bad, they said so, if they thought McCarthy was rubbish, they critiscized. Sensible lads. I hope they remain for future home matches and the ex-Spurs who preceded them for the last few years don't come back.

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