Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Operation was/wasn't a Success

Fulham 2 Charlton Athletic 1

The support that Charlton received from their fans, much of it a result of the successful Operation Craven Cottage initiative, was great, but it wasn't enough to earn any points. Goals from Brian McBride and Claus Jensen gave Fulham a two nil lead midway through the second half, and though Darren Bent pulled one back a few minutes later, the truth is Charlton didn't have enough belief to equalise.

The game started off quite slowly, with the only action coming from the rauccous Charlton crowd. It was great to see the away section almost full (I'm not sure how many Addicks made the trip, but it was a significant number in a 19,000 overall attendance figure.

Charlton came in to the game after settling down in the first ten minutes or so, and soon bossed the match, but without scoring. Hasselbaink fired at Niemi; Reid shot just wide, as did the flying Rommedahl, who caused all sorts of problems wide on the right. Darren Bent floated a shot just over. At the back, the recalled Souleymane Diawara had the crowd singing his name after several good interceptions; when he gets to know his team-mates, he could become a great buy.

After half time, much was the same until Fulham brought on substitute and ex-Addick Claus Jensen. We had seen it all before really - Claus made the first goal, and typically scored an excellent second what seemed like moments later. Game over. Jerome Thomas' first outing of the season tried to lift the spirits but he, and Rommedahl, were starved of the ball late in the game. Another substitute, Marcus Bent tried to inject some passion into the evening, and certainly put himself about, but with little result. It was left to Thomas to wriggle into the penalty area, then get hacked to bits, and the ball fall to Darren Bent to poke wide of Niemi and home from 14 yards with fifteen minutes left. Hreidersson and Reid had late headed chances but both times lacked conviction, and maybe belief.

Overall, everyone played their part, with the only two problem areas being Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who seems a bit lost at present, and Bryan Hughes, who just isn't good enough. Both ended up substituted, so maybe Dowie can see the problems with these two aswell. Hopefully, Omar Pouso will come through another reserve game tonight and be fit enough to start on Saturday. Forward options are very thin on the ground, unless a return to 4-5-1 is considered by Dowie.

Watford's visit on Saturday now takes on huge significance; the Premiership's bottom two meet, and anything but a home win for the Addicks will heep a whole lot of pressure on Iain Dowie. The team that he wants on the pitch is almost completely fit now, and the excuses have to stop from this point forwards.

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