Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bees brought to their knees

Charlton Athletic 3 Brentford 1

Well, we made it - quarter finals. Three down, three to go...

Goals from Darren Bent, Jay Bothroyd, and Bryan Hughes secured the result, before Brentford's Isaiah Rankine scored a late consolation.

Bent's early goal, following a delightful lob over the back four by Kishishev, after just three minutes settled the nerves during a strange first half. The game was just about calming down into a familiar home game pattern when crowd trouble in the south east corner of the South Stand brought a uncomfortable atmosphere to The Valley.

What caused the trouble is unclear (unlike the previous occurence caused by Van Nistelrooy's over-zealous celebrations in the same area...), but it may have been either stewards asking fans to sit down (not really a reason for the disturbance...), or rival factions (old-boys versus glory hunters?) within the Brentford area. It certainly did not involve any Charlton fans. The scenes actually deterioted after the first few hooligans were brought out onto the running track, and one striped shirted Brentford supporter ran from the east stand to join in. Eventually, with players and referee sensibly slowing the game right down while the police and stewards dealt with things, calm of some sort was restored in that area.

Charlton continued to control the game, and a free kick (his second try) from Jay Bothroyd (see above) just before half time gave Charlton the breathing space in the tie that they needed. Bothroyd's free-kicks are amazing! He has scored four goals for Charlton now; all at the Covered (North Stand) End of the Valley, and all from free kicks tapped to him to strike. His celebration wasn't as vociferous as the one in the last round (versus Orient) as he kept his shirt on this time!

The Brentford team came out onto the pitch early for the second half - a Martin Allen tactic to keep them warm I guess - but it made little difference to general play. Bothroyd was replaced by Bartlett after an hour, and with his first touch he set Bryan Hughes (left) free to score through the goalkeepers legs. 3-0 and it was game over.

This goal was also within seconds of the suited supporter, prize drawn to shout instructions from the technical area, was first allowed to stand up. He quickly got told to sit down again by Allen!

Charlton then sat back and relaxed, trying to hit the Bees on the break, and Ambrose, on for Kishishev, almost made the most of several jinking runs.

As it was, a late goal from ex-Arsenal trainee Rankine, and a Sodje header which hit the post in injury time, were all Brentford could claim in the way of decent efforts on goal.

The quarter finals now beckon for the Addicks, and this in itself may bring an intersting sequence of matches. Left in the cup, as of time of writing, are Chelsea, Colchester, West Ham, Bolton, Stoke, Birmingham, Preston, Manchester City, plus Newcastle, Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Middlesboro. Charlton's next four league games? Newcastle, Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Middlesboro! So it is fairly likely (about even money I suppose) that Charlton may have to play a team twice over the next month, in both FA Cup and Premiership. Usually, when this is the case, the games tend to have the same venue, so we could end up with a Tuesday night trip to St James or Anfield, or a home tie against Villa or Boro...

When you look at our results this season, I'd be quite happy with a tie against almost all of the above clubs - we've beaten Liverpool, Boro, Birmingham, West Ham; beat Chelsea too on penalties; and cannot play much worse in games against Villa or City. Newcastle still have huge defensive problems, and Bolton are fighting (sometimes literally) on all fronts and don't always take the FA Cup seriously. I'd be happy to play any of the non-Premiership clubs, as would fans of any of the other top division teams.

What I really hope for is that Liverpool are drawn against Chelsea - that way the ridiculous palaver of Champions League teams 6th Round ties being settled in one leg only will be avoided for fans of teams that rate this competition.

We'll know more when ball 5 comes out of the bowl tomorrow lunchtime...

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