Saturday, January 14, 2006

Old Boy Gives Brummies the Blues

Charlton Athletic 2 Birmingham City 0

It wasn't very pretty, but Charlton won three more valuable Premiership points this afternoon, courtesy of goals from Bryan Hughes (left) and Darren Bent. The official website match report is here.

Hughes was playing against his former club, and it makes a very nice change for a Charlton player to score against his old colleagues - it was his second league goal of the season. Bent scored his 14th goal of the campaign, racing away in injury time to smash a shot past Maik Taylor.

Most of the match was a gritty, dour, affair, with Birmingham having most of the ball and most of the efforts on goal. Hughes' goal was Charlton's only worthwhile effort in the first half, from their first corner. Charlton have had less corners this season than any other Premiership team, so it's good to see that they still work on them in training! For Birmingham, Chelsea-loanee Jarosik went closest, with a couple of reasonable shots.

Charlton almost had a dream start to the second half, when Matt Holland almost made it three goals in consecutive games, but his volley went just wide. The Brummie forwards then contrived to miss many a chance, with last ditch tackles, all out effort and more than enough passion just about keeping Charlton in front. Myrhe, Young, Fortune, Hreidersson, Holland, Hughes, Bartlett and Kishishev all put their bodies on the line at times, but none more so than my man-of-the-match Chrissy Powell. With Jerrmain Pennant in good recent form, he knew he would have a hard afternoon, but Chris came through with flying colours, keeping the ankle strapped winger quite quiet all day, and stemming the flow of potentially dangerous crosses into the box.

Brummie manager Steve Bruce played all his cards, throwing on attackers at the end at the expense of his defence, and this left them vunerable to a breakaway goal. Up stepped (or actually ran very fast) Darren Bent (left) to speed past Mario Melchiot in injury time to thump in the second Charlton goal, and it was game over.

It was great to see the pasion return to a Charlton team; weaknesss obviously still exists, or the Blue noses wouldn't have had so many chances. But when tackles needed to be made, they were, when headers were there to be won, up they jumped, when the ball was required in row Z, there it went. The team couldn't win every tackle, or header (especially against a team as tall as Birmingham's), but the effort in getting to the second ball was immense.

This was excellent stuff, a real return to the Charlton that so many of us know and love. There was no place in the squad for any of the recently missing Danny Murphy, Jerome Thomas, or Alexei Smertin; in Murphy's case, he may well be on his way out of the club if stories from Floyds can be believed.

Next week, Charlton take on heir apparent Premiership Champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. A repeat of the passion, effort, and will-to-win shown today may not be enough to beat the best team in the country, but at least it could mean they have to break sweat to beat us.

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