Brighton & Hove Albion 2 (Dunk 67,90) Charlton 2 (Vetokele 4,75).
Kevin Nolan reports from the Amex Stadium.
Two towering headers from Brighton centre back Lewis Dunk, both of them from right wing corners, the second of them deep into added time, denied Charlton an epic victory at the gleaming Amex Stadium. Their understandable disappointment was mitigated, however, by their organised, spirited resistance to Sami Hypia’s talented Brighton side.
Twice in front, thanks to the cool marksmanship of Igor Vetokele, the Addicks were within touching distance of all three points when Danny Holla’s corner was scraped away to Kazenga Lua Lua and instantly chipped back into the goal area chaos, where Dunk’s header was planted into the top left corner. Psychologically, it felt like losing to the devastated visitors. The reality is, of course, that they didn’t lose – nor have they lost in their opening five league games. Bob Peeters’ game, counterpunching team has, in fact, made an excellent start to the season.
In scoring for the fifth time in as many starts, Vetokele has settled down with impressive ease to the hurly-burly of the Championship. Mobile, intelligent, surprisingly good in the air, the 22 year-old Angolan is sharp as a tack, as he wasted little time in demonstrating just four minutes after kick-off. A brisk move involving Yoni Buyens and George Tucudean was petering out harmlessly until Vetokele seized on a loose ball and expertly drove it low inside David Stockdale’s right-hand post. His well-taken goal gave Charlton the perfect start but unruffled Albion immediately began to force them on to the back foot.
A minute after Vetokele’s opener, a rare slip by Tal Ben Haim presented Joao Texeira with an open goal from no more than 10 yards. An open goal, that is, apart from the forbidding presence of Stephen Henderson, whose instinctively outflung left hand kept out the sure thing at the expense of a corner. Texeira’s miss (and Henderson’s fantastic save) duly launched a period of steady pressure, which was studded with regular chances.
The first of those chances fell to Adrian Colunga, who was set up by Gordon Greer’s header from the inevitable Holla’s corner but, unmarked at the far post, volleyed wildly over the bar. Just as wasteful was Holla himself, who endeared himself to the large away contingent by ballooning Joe Bennett’s deep cross into their jubilant ranks. As the Seagulls flocked hungrily around Henderson’s goal, it fell to the more experienced Craig Mackail-Smith to show more poise with the target in sight.
Recently returned from a lengthy injury lay-off, Mackail-Smith’s truly prolific days are probably behind him but the cagey veteran still needs careful attention. Shortly after the interval, he spun sharply on to Bennett’s pass and shot mere inches wide on the turn. Not so dangerous was right back Bruno Saltor, whose volley from another of Bennett’s precise deliveries sailed off into the stratosphere.
Huffing and puffing, Brighton were begining to run out of inspiration by the time Andre Bikey conceded a right-sided corner to deny lively Lua Lua an opening near the right byline. Holla dropped his flagkick on to Dunk’s brow and the big centre back looped a soaring header over the diminutive Chris Solly, on goalline duty in the left corner. According to his many fans, Charlton’s imperturbable right back is only five foot three inches tall, which can’t be right. Can it? Nah, he’s bigger than that but not quite big enough to reach Dunk’s header. Shame, really, but you are what you are and it is what it is.
Briefly rattled, the Addicks faltered and Bikey’s panicky clearance fell to Lua Lua, whose snapshot was capably fielded by Henderson. As collapse threatened, Andrew Crofts broke clear but with only a square pass needed for Texeira to tap in an empty net, hit Ben Haim instead. Then, abruptly, Charlton stopped their tormentors in their tracks by hitting them with a classic goal on the break.
Having replaced a subdued Tucudean at half-time, Simon Church brought with him his customary willingness to work tirelessly for the team. His persistence on the right helped him elude Texeira’s tired challenge before a low centre picked out Vetokele at the near post. The elusive striker’s shuffling change of feet improved the angle for a shot passed carefully into the net off the far upright.
Again, Albion turned the screw, with new signing Sam Baldock appealing more in hope than expectation for a penalty when his shot rebounded off Ben Haim. At the other end, Bikey raised the siege briefly with a solid header sending Johnnie Jackson’s free kick a foot too high, before Vetokele’s needless foul on Holla gave Gary Gardner an inviting free kick in the penalty area “D”. A resolute wall did its job and Charlton seemed home and dry. Not quite, as it turned out, because Brighton’s 11th corner finally wore them down and Dunk’s last gasp goal carried with it joy and despair in equal measure. The Addicks know all about that after sickening Huddersfield in identical circumstances last week. Thing is, of course, both games were drawn. And, whisper it, pre-kickoff a draw would have been cheerfully accepted by the Addicks in each case. Just depends how you look at it.
Brighton: Stockdale, Saltor, Greer, Dunk, Bennett, Colunga, Crofts (Gardner 46), Texeira, Forster-Caskey (Baldock 78), Holla, Mackail-Smith (Lua Lua 61). Not used: Ankergren, Hughes, Calderon, Ince.
Booked: Dunk, Forster-Caskey.
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Gudmundsson (Fox 80), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (Wilson 61), Vetokele, Tucudean (Church 46). Not used: Pope, Morrison, Moussa, Harriott.
Referee: Keith Hill. Att: 26,189 (1,992 visiting).
Derby County 1 (Calero 87) Charlton 0.
Kevin Nolan reports from the iPRO Stadium.
As usual, Charlton’s encounter with the Capital One Cup was brief. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson spent more time stiffening their lips and being terribly decent over endless tea in the station buffet. To be honest, I preferred Arthur Lowe’s re-take in Dad’s Army. At least he got on with it. Sadly though, it ended up the same.
It’s only fair to say, before recounting the main details, that the Addicks gave it a good shot at the iPRO Stadium, which is what they call Pride Park these days. Everything’s commercially sponsored at Derby, including goalmouth scrambles. And there were plenty of them at Charlton’s end in the second half.
Eventually, under the most dubious of circumstances, one paid off for the Rams and they scraped through to the next round. Bob Peeters probably won’t mind too much. In fact, he probably won’t mind at all.
Battered but resilient, the visitors soaked up constant pressure, hit back occasionally and stayed in the hunt until a late, scandalous refereeing decision proved their undoing. With no fewer than six starters reared in the club’s peerless Sparrows Lane academy, they defied their much vaunted hosts and showed, if nothing else, that they have enough about them to thrive in the Championship.
The most recent of those kids to break through has been Nick Pope and nobody deserved less to be on the losing side. A performance of nerve and skill, which included one especially fine save from Leon Best, looked like earning the visitors the poisoned chalice of extra-time but was ultimately doomed to disappointment. Which is where self-important referee Graham Salisbury came in.
For an hour, we hadn’t really noticed the ref, which might have riled him. He certainly made up for it in the closing stages, beginning with an almost laughable booking meted out to Michael Morrison for an awkward but perfectly fair challenge on Best. Charlton had been warned but there was no way of knowing what Salisbury had in store for them.
There were three minutes left when Pope delayed a routine clearance at the edge of his penalty area. Since the tie was due to be settled on the night, he had no reason to waste time but that cut little ice with our man Salisbury. Arriving on the scene in a flurry of indignation and authority, he sternly lectured the rebellious youngster, before booking him, presumably for infringing the dimly remembered six-second rule. Making up new laws as he went on, he then mysteriously re-started the game with a free kick to the Rams a few inches inside the 18-yard line, thereby ruling out any suggestion that Pope had handled the ball outside the area. Any semblance of commonsense had by now fled the scene.
Anyway, it got curiouser and curiouser until, amid general confusion, Johnny Russell’s free kick was eventually charged down by the wall and found its way to Chris Martin, who shook off Callum Harriott’s marking and made a determined run into the area. A short square pass set up fellow substitute Ivan Calero to take a steadying touch before blasting an unstoppable drive into the top left corner. Even the magnificent but betrayed Pope had no answer to that.
Preoccupied as they were with defending, the Addicks hadn’t offered much in reply. When they looked dangerous a few minutes before Calero settled the tie, the inevitable Salisbury had behaved ingloriously. Failing to spot the blatant foul by Craig Forsyth which prevented Lawrie Wilson from running clear on to Franck Moussa’s cute pass, he was alerted to the offence by his more vigilant assistant. A booking for Forsyth was obvious but oddly -or perhaps not so oddly – overlooked. Substitute Johann Gudmundsson almost applied his own rough justice but Lee Grant spectacularly tipped his curling free kick over the bar.
Salisbury was on a pompous roll by now. During five minutes of added time (in the excitement I missed the sponsor’s name), he worked himself into a lather over the precise placing of a harmless free kick in Charlton’s half, stamping his foot impatiently as a succession of Addicks sought to keep on his right side. He wasn’t a man to be trifled with, a kind of Captain Mainwaring without any of his many saving graces. A “silly old fool”, in fact, as that eyebrowed Caledonian Fraser would have called him. By the way, I don’t know how you feel about it but the good captain’s lady was the real fool for leaving him. They had more chance than Trevor and Celia. That pair of gasbags would have talked it to death. A bit like Graham Salisbury. On second thoughts, a lot like Graham Salisbury.
Derby: Grant, Shotton, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth, Mascarell (Martin 69), Russell (Santos 69), Hendrick, Dawkins (Calero 69), Hughes, Best. Not used: Roos, Christie, Bryson, Rawson.
Charlton: Pope, Gomez, Morrison (Gudmundsson 79), Bikey, Fox, Wilson, Cousins, Jackson (Buyens 64), Harriott, Moussa, Tucudean (Vetokele 64). Not used: Mitov, Wiggins, Church, Ben Haim. Booked: Morrison, Pope.
Referee: Graham Salisbury. Att: 16,367 (297 visiting).
Huddersfield Town 1 (Wells 50) Charlton 1 (Vetokele 90).
Kevin Nolan reports from The John Smith’s Stadium.
The unadorned statistics record that Huddersfield and Charlton drew 1-1 in West Yorkshire on Saturday. They earned a point apiece and little else matters. Disputes about right and wrong, not to mention justice or the lack thereof, belong in small claims court and mean nothing after a football match. You get what you end up with, not necessarily what you “deserve.” Never explain. Never apologise. It ain’t nobody’s business but your own, as Billie Holliday pointed out.
So having copped that plea, we’ll proceed to admit that Charlton were outrageously lucky to salvage a precious point from this tepid performance. A series of questionable decisions by referee Tim Robinson, whose heart, if not his home, appeared to lie far south of Huddersfield, palpably favoured them. Besides displaying a holding midfielder’s knack of timely interceptions to break up play (scrupulously for both sides, it must be said), Robinson was otherwise impossible to ignore. And he wasted little time in claiming centre stage.
Fixated on knocking the ball around the back line before proceeding in careful stages through midfield, the Addicks’ defenders have apparently been encouraged to include rookie goalkeeper Nick Pope in a deliberate but highly risky regimen of possession. The Terriers had obviously scouted uncertainty in not only a reluctant Pope but towering centre back Andre Bikey. In Nakhi Wells, they had just the livewire forward to sniff it out.
As Bikey and Pope confused each other on the 18-yard line, Wells neatly relieved them of the ball but was halted in his tracks by the mysterious award of a free kick to the defenders for a foul visible only to Robinson. A few minutes later, Wells again pounced on the dithering duo, Rhoys Wiggins’s weak back pass along the byline made a bad situation worse but Tal Ben Haim’s express train tackle on the pesky nuisance of a striker cleared the danger.
Culpable for Derby’s second goal on Tuesday, Pope hardly needed such distractions. Fortunately, his confidence was restored by the splendid flying save he made from Harry Bunn before another smart stop from the same player completed his rehabilitation. This talented kid’s gonna be fine; stand on it. Igor Vetokele, meanwhile, was Charlton’s bright spark, his venomous volley forcing an equally fine save from Alex Smithies. Before the interval, the jetheeled Angolan featured in the second of Robinson’s key interventions.
Having just booked Town captain Lee Peltier for “professionally” tugging back Joni Buyens, the fussbudget official was in no mood to extend the same tolerance to Murray Wallace when the big defender turned the same trick to stop Vetokele as he darted on to George Tucudean’s sublime flick. A clear route to goal was inconclusive but Bikey proved indispensable in convincing Robinson to don the black cap. Off went the highly indignant centre back and the Addicks had their stricken hosts at their mercy. At least, that’s the way it looked.
Five minutes after the break, the depleted Terriers made nonsense of their disadvantage by taking a shock lead. Wide man Sean Scannell’s pass sent Tommy Smith sprinting to the right byline, where Jordan Cousins was out-hustled by the more determined midfielder. Smith centred hard and low, Wells couldn’t miss at the far post. For the first time this season, Charlton trailed. Initially, they made heavy weather of coping with the experience.
Sticking rigidly to their policy of passing from back to front, the Londoners showed few signs of redressing the imbalance. Chances were non-existent as Town made expert work of fragmenting an already disintegrating game with well-timed substitutions and a provocatively slothful approach to setpieces. Their spoiling tactics were spot-on and they might have made the points safe but were frustrated by yet another of Robinson’s highly-charged decisions against them.
Caught flatfooted as James Vaughan cut sharply inside him on the business side of the 18-yard line, Ben Haim’s lusty shoulder barge on the substitute smacked of a penalty, even looked like a penalty but clearly wasn’t a penalty, at least not according to the only chap that mattered. Tim Robinson, remember the name. He was a positive brick to Charlton all afternoon, though he might prudently avoid Huddersfield until local memories fade.
It didn’t seem all that important anyway until, wouldn’t you know it, the Addicks roused themselves for one supreme effort deep into added time. Collecting the ball in the centre circle, Johnnie Jackson made an old pro’s decision to launch it aerially, rather than lay it off short as dictated by the new tactics. Primitive admittedly but highly effective as Bikey, left upfield for just such an eventuality, soared high to head on. Alive to possibilities, Vetokele darted through to tuck a close range finish past the helpless Smithies. Short ball, long ball, they both have their place. When one tactic doesn’t work, try the other. And until one or the other is outlawed, keep your tactical options open.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Peltier (Majewski 60), Wallace, Lynch, Dixon, Coady, Butterfield, Scannell (Hamill 87), Wells (Vaughan 64), Bunn. Not used: Murphy, Ward, Stead, Crooks. Sent off: Wallace. Booked: Peltier, Vaughan, Bunn.
Charlton: Pope, Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins (Church 67), Gudmundsson, Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (Harriott 73), Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 56). Not used: Mitov, Wilson, Gomez, Fox. Booked: Wiggins.
Referee: Tim Robinson. Att: 11,333 (432 visiting).
Charlton 3 (Tucudean 11, Buyens 45 pen, Vetokele 78) Derby County 2 (Ward 31,85).
Keep it zipped for a bit but the signs are there’s something buzzing at The Valley. Or, more accurately, at Sparrows Lane, New Eltham, where the groundwork is done.
At a warmly appreciative Valley on Tuesday evening, Derby County became the second fancied promotion contender to bite the dust within three days. It wasn’t easy but this victory was no backs-to-the -wall gutsfest against superior opposition. On the contrary, the Addicks matched their talented visitors skill for skill in a thrilling, end-to-end duel, before young Nick Pope’s 85th minute error brought with it a brief descent into chaos. County’s second goal distorted the scoreline but this result was a fair one.
The dramatic improvement over last season’s near-collapse is easily explained. This summer’s reinforcements, undoubtedly acquired under Bob Peeters’ supervision, are leagues ahead of the one-armed paper-hangers, most of them neither use nor ornament, which were made available to Chris Powell or Jose Riga. All of them, with the exception of one unused fringe player, are gone and unlamented. In their place, six new arrivals started against Derby, each of them worthy of his place and clearly signed with Peeters’ approval. A perfect pitch is another advantage enjoyed by the new boss.
Among the new blokes, George Tucudean has been slowest to settle. Although the consensus has been that there’s something about him, the jury, so to speak, has been considering its verdict. Before a blatantly illegal challenge caused his withdrawal at half-time, the big Romanian put all argument to rest. Judgement was returned overwhelmingly in his favour.
Crowning an encouraging start, the Addicks moved ahead on 11 minutes. A sweeping move from their own half was given added momentum by Johann Gudmundsson’s electric turn and crisp pass out to Jordan Cousins on the left flank. Stepping inside instinctively on to his right foot, the teenaged prodigy picked out Tucudean, policed by Jake Buxton and Richard Keogh on the 18-yard line. One clever touch disposed of his markers, before a firm drive on the turn bisected them on its way into the bottom corner. Tucudean had announced his arrival but wasn’t quite through for the night.
Stung by the reverse, it was equally unlikely that these impressive Rams would implode. Urged on by dynamic engine roomers Craig Bryson (his foul on Tucudean was a cheap shot) and Jeff Hendrick, their recovery brought chances for Bryson to force a smart save from Pope and Simon Dawkins, who eluded Johnnie Jackson but shot narrowly wide. Just past the half hour, the Midlanders deservedly equalised.
Prolific last term but scoreless so far this season, Chris Martin let fly venomously from 20 yards but was defied by Pope’s fine full-length save. The loose ball was retrieved on the right byline by Hendricks, rolled neatly back to Jamie Ward and deposited brilliantly into the top left corner by the goal-starved striker.
Coming into their own, the newly confident visitors pressed home their advantage, with Bryson’s fierce drive stinging Pope’s palms. Reaching half-time without further damage quickly became Charlton’s priority. To regain their lead, therefore, in the dying seconds of the half, was a precious bonus. And it was nearly a one-man show.
Tucudean’s twisting run and close control bewitched a posse of pursuing Rams until Keogh succumbed to temptation and brought him down heavily inside the area. Referee Bull sensibly weighed his responsibility before pointing to the spot, with Keogh’s turf-pounding histrionics no doubt as much in relief at escaping a card of any colour as genuine anger at the inevitable decision. Ice-cool Joni Buyens placed the penalty in precisely the same spot he chose against Colchester a week previously.
A tense second half stretched before the Addicks but they showed every intention of holding their own. Jackson set up substitute Moussa to screw a shot wide; Igor Vetokele evaded Buxton but saw his shot smartly saved by Lee Grant; Jackson’s free kick shaved the bar. At the other end, Martin’s deflected shot caromed dangerously wide and Keogh blasted Bryson’s corner wildly high. The scoring was clearly far from over and, with 12 minutes remaining, the home side grabbed a seemingly decisive third goal.
Excellent and industrious as ever, Jackson’s “suspect” legs caught up with a pass near the right byline, before the indispensable skipper checked back on his wand of a left foot to chip over a teasing cross. Reading the play intelligently, Lawrie Wilson had made ground to flick on at the near post and Vetokele’s header buried the chance into the opposite corner.
So that was that – time for Peeters to “put his feet up in the dug-out and enjoy a fat cigar.” Except that it wasn’t quite that. There were still five minutes on the clock when Ward’s weak toepoke passed inexplicably through Pope’s legs to set the stage for possible panic. But part of that previously mentioned buzz is the rock-like resistance organised by centre backs Andre Bikey and Tal Ben Haim, not to mention the reliability of Joe Gomez and Rhoys Wiggins. Plus Gudmundsson and Buyens – different class! They saw it through and Peeters was free to light up.
Charlton: Pope, Gomez, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Gudmundsson (Fox 89), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (Wilson 64), Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 46). Not used: Phillips, Morrison, Harriott, Church. Booked: Buyens, Gomez.
Derby: Grant, Christie, Buxton, Keogh, Forsyth, Hughes (Mascarell 46), Dawkins (Russell 69), Bryson, Hendrick, (Best 77), Ward, Martin. Not used: Roos, Naylor, Eustace, Whitbread. Booked: Bryson.
Referee: M. Bull. Att: 15,317 (1,434 visiting).
Charlton 2 (Cousins 8, Moussa 90+3), Wigan Athletic 1 (McManaman 22)
Bob Peeters wasn’t in charge when Wigan Athletic overhauled Charlton with two savagely late goals at The DW Stadium last February. He can count himself lucky because Cockney witnesses of that particular sickener still experience recurring nightmares. Well, they did until last Saturday’s events purged their trauma.
At the time, the supercilious attitude of Latics boss Uwe Rosler exacerbated the misery, his demeanour suggesting that he had carefully planned the victory from start to finish. The double sucker punch was, he implied, all part of an exquisitely timed coup. Cobblers, of course, because Wigan had ridden their luck- nothing wrong with that, of course – but we were deliciously reminded at a fever-pitch Valley yesterday, that in football what goes around comes around. And sometimes, when it comes around, it’s worth the wait… sometimes REALLY worth the wait.
This absorbing game, one which simmered but never actually caught fire, had entered the third of five added minutes when lively substitute Franck Moussa optimistically tried his luck from outside the area. His uninhibited shot caught a wicked deflection off Robert Kiernan, looped wildly over the straining grasp of Scott Carson and settled, with almost a pleasing plop, in the net behind the stricken keeper. Cue pandemonium.
While Moussa and his overjoyed teammates cavorted round the right corner flag, Peeters, clearly out of control and with no obvious destination in mind, careered down the touchline in Rosler’s general direction. It’s fair to say that Wigan’s disgruntled gaffer received his counterpart – how to put this? – less than graciously. He was distinctly gefruntzed – which is a Yiddish way of saying he was more than a little cheesed off and ready to dispute the matter. Uncivil words were exchanged, fisticuffs were a possibility until the game resumed, then it all kicked off again at the final whistle. The return on February 21st could be tasty.
Rosler’s irritation was understandable because his talented Latics promised far more than they delivered. Their passing was precise, their movement intelligent, their ability to keep the ball impressive. It was cerebral stuff but it lacked dynamism. They allowed this game to drift away from them and had tacitly settled for a point by the time Moussa struck. There were no meaningful shots at goal from the visitors, apart from Callum McManaman’s excellent equaliser. And that’s basically the purpose of football.
Charlton’s 8th minute opening goal was a case in point. The ominously composed visitors had been camped in the Addicks’ half, before, with dramatic suddenness, they found themselves behind to an uncomplicated tactic they themselves appeared to have shunned.
Buckling down uncomplainingly to his unfamiliar wide role on the left, Jordan Cousins accepted Johann Gudmundsson’s raking pass, stepped inside James Perch and bent a 25-yards beauty into the far top corner. Simple, direct, a lesson for the learning.
A quarter hour later, Wigan seemed to have picked up on it. Running down James McArthur’s long pass to the right of goal, the outstanding McManaman turned Rhoys Wiggins inside out near the byline before squeezing a firm, low drive through Stephen Henderson from a tight angle.
Briefly given a bit of a chasing by the methodical Lancastrians, Charlton resisted stoutly. New centre back Andre Bikey was immense, his sturdy defending complemented by his willingness to play constructively from the back; his partner Tal Ben Haim offered solid support; Wiggins had his hands full with McManaman but improved steadily; Chris Solly was his usual cool, resourceful self. And in midfield, Johann Gudmundsson and Joni Buyens began to match the metronomic Latics. Even the worrying loss of Stephen Henderson midway through the second half failed to dent home resolve. His rookie replacement Nick Pope is a good ‘un; this Southern softie wasted little time in ruthlessly -but legally – laying out two tough Northern chaps in an aerial collision.
An earnest tactical duel was meandering into stalemate when Charlton burst into life with a flurry of late chances. Moussa made a mess of converting Solly’s precise cutback, with Gudmundsson’s effort behind him blocked by Andrew Taylor. Quiet but always dangerous, Igor Vetokele slipped Oriol Ramis’ leash, bore down on Carson but was foiled by the advancing keeper’s control of the narrowing angle. The Angolan striker’s miss seemed like a last futile spasm but the ever-optimistic Moussa kept the the faith. And set the stage for Peeters and Rosler to clash like a snake and a mongoose.
Charlton: Henderson (Pope 66), Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Gudmundsson, Buyens, Jackson (Wilson 75), Cousins, Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 61). Not used: Morrison, Harriott, Church, Fox.
Wigan: Carson, Perch, Ramis, Kiernan, Taylor, Huws, McArthur, Cowie (Espinoza 78), Fortune (Waghorn 69), Riera (Maloney 46), McManaman. Not used: Al Habsi, Tavernier, Caldwell, Barnett. Booked: Taylor.
Referee: Andy D’Urso. Att: 15,334 (447 visiting).
Charlton 4 (Buyens 23,pen, Wilson 55,59. Church 89) Colchester United 0.
Watched in polite appreciation by little over 5,000 fans (it was rowdier on the Marie Celeste) as they dismembered Colchester United, Charlton cruised sedately into the second round of the Capital One Cup. Their League One opponents were never in with a chance following the contentious penalty decision, which saw their captain Magnus Okuonghae sent off for “deliberate handball” on 23 minutes. So let’s tackle that game-changing flashpoint immediately.
The visitors were coping comfortably until George Tucudean reached the right byline to cross low to the far post, where Franck Moussa shot first-time against the desperately plunging figure of Okuonghae from close range. Whether the ball struck the defender’s hand or his ribs is in the eye of the beholder and depends largely on the beholder’s allegiance. Most neutrals were undecided. But the big centre back’s punishment was positively medieval. He conceded a penalty (hung), was sent off (drawn) and, pending appeal, faces suspension for three games (quartered). By rights, he should also have been dragged away in chains and waterboarded. Phil Mitchell’s ever-available lawyer, Ritchie, is believed to have accepted the brief.
Yoni Buyens duly converted the penalty with insolent aplomb and it was downhill for United from then on. Incensed manager Joe Dunne understandably highlighted the incident as critical to the result and he had a point. The reality is, of course, that the Us were outclassed by a home side which intelligently used the increase dimensions of the Valley pitch to give them a thorough chasing and provided an object lesson in exploiting a supposedly awkward one-man advantage.
The Essex chaps, roared on by 472 belligerent followers who kept up a barrage of hurtful, beastly slurs about the ground, home support and immediate neighbourhood, actually started brightly. Former West Ham prodigy Freddie Sears first blasted Gavin Massey’s long pass over the bar, then did likewise with Sean Clohessy’s cutback minutes later. In fairness to them, the wind was taken out of their sails by the penalty decision, but they were heading for the rocks anyway.
With the brilliant Buyens magnetically attracting the ball and pulling the midfield strings, the Addicks began to pull away from their visitors. In a rehearsed corner routine, Jordan Cousins’ diagonal delivery set up Tucudean to shoot ferociously from the 18-yard line, Chris Lewington’s legs blocked defiantly and Buyens drove the rebound against a charging defender. But it took Bob Peeters’ men until early in the second half to put Colchester in their place.
Sears had the first word in the second period, his fierce 20-yarder forcing Stephen Henderson’s only save of note, before two quickfire goals from impressive Lawrie Wilson sealed the issue. Ten minutes after the break, the busy wide man caught up with Moussa’s angled pass to the right of goal and screwed a low shot back into the far bottom corner. A crisper, no-nonsense drive completed neat approach work by Callum Harriott and Moussa to finish United off. Wilson’s excellent contribution added to several selection dilemmas (not “headaches” as he was keen to stress), which Peeters must solve before Wigan’s arrival on Saturday.
Suspiciously at first, a subdued Valley began to warm to this brand new collection of Addicks. Before departing shortly after the hour mark, Buyens was different class, Moussa showed enough to suggest he’s a shrewd acquisition, Andre Bikey was huge in all senses of the word. Tucudean was unlucky not to open his account when his second half shot, following Jordan Cousins’ piercing pass, was cleared off the line by Clohessy while substitute Johan Gudmundsson slotted into Buyens’ central midfield role just past the hour and is clearly a good ‘un.
Charlton’s old boys were no less impressive. Wilson’s goals and ceaseless industry speak for themselves, Michael Morrison put neither foot nor head wrong, youth products Cousins, Morgan Fox and Callum Harriott more than did their bit. And in 17-year old debutant Joe Gomez, Sparrows Lane has unearthed another diamond -and not just in the rough; even nominally out of position at right back, this one already sparkles. Trust Peeters to nurture his special talent carefully.
It was left to late substitute Simon Church to gild Charlton’s lily. Having replaced the out-of-luck Tucudean, he pounced on the hash made by Lewington in dealing with Gudmundsson’s long range potshot and poked Charlton’s fourth past the struggling keeper. The standing ovation, to which these promising Addicks departed, was richly deserved. It’s early days-of course it is- but, whisper it, we might be on to something!
Charlton: Henderson, Gomez, Morrison, Bikey, Fox, Wilson, Buyens (Gudmundsson 63), Harriott, Cousins, Moussa (Vetokele 60), Tucudean (Church 72). Not used: Pope, Nego, Pigott, Ben Haim.
Colchester: Lewington, Gilbey, Okuonghae (sent off), Moncur, Gordon, Clohessy, Eastman, Massey (Holman 46), Vose (Bean 29), Ibehere, Sears (Szmodics 63). Not used:Walker, Thompson, Kent, Curtis.
Referee: C. Breakspear. Att: 5,752.
Brentford 1 (Smith 85) Charlton 1 (Vetokele 64).
A point away from home on opening day normally justifies quiet satisfaction. And Bob Peeters won’t be displeased with either this result or Charlton’s performance at sardine-packed Griffin Park, where up-for-it Brentford were seeking to ride the wave of optimism which carried them out of League One last season. These newly promoted sides can be awkward handfuls until their novelty wears off and stark reality asserts itself.
Unfortunately, Peeters and a sparky, densely populated away end possibly quit the scene with the gnawing feeling that their useful point wasn’t quite reward enough. They will be haunted by the chance spurned by Callum Harriott with 12 minutes left which, if converted, would have finished off the game West Londoners and earned them all three. Leading 1-0 at the time, it was almost inevitable that the Addicks would live to regret his miss. Not to mention, while on the subject of misses, the wastefulness shown by by George Tucudean in hitting the legs of advancing goalkeeper David Button when played clear by Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s glorious first half pass.
Harriott’s opening was engineered by Igor Vetokele, one of seven starters making their Charlton debuts (Franck Moussa was introduced in added time to make it eight) whose unfamiliarity will eventually dissipate but who for the time being are virtual strangers. Football teams usually change through a subtle process of natural selection, involving the constant replacement of age by youth, with one door opening as another closes. Fans hardly notice it happening. This latest Charlton team, on the other hand, is the result not so much of osmosis but whatever the scientific opposite of osmosis happens to be. This current side hasn’t evolved. It’s more the product of reconstructive surgery. But it might work.
Sharp, mobile and competitive, Vetokele was, by a distance, the pick of the newcomers. Subdued during a first half mostly dominated by Brentford, he nonetheless caught the eye and came into his own after the interval. His first strike in Charlton’s colours was the clever downward header which sent Chris Solly’s fine cross back across David Button in text book fashion but was brilliantly tipped on to his left post by the goalkeeper’s plunging save. Hardly a towering centre forward, the 24 year-old Angolan international is deceptively good in the air, as he demonstrated in giving the Addicks a 64th minute lead, by beating Button to Johnnie Jackson’s wickedly inswinging corner and nodding past the outwitted keeper from close range.
While the Bees were still coming to terms with a perceived sense of injustice, Vetokele’s ceaseless industry conjured the critical chance for lively substitute Harriott. Ruthlessly closing down a dawdling Button outside the penalty area, he winkled the ball clear for his teammate to shoot first time at an unguarded goal. Possibly hitting the ball too cleanly, Harriott’s drive bounced to safety off the underside of the crossbar and was collected by the desperately retreating Button. Time was already running out on Sam Warburton’s spirited side but a turning point had been reached. These Bees were still carrying a sting.
Enlivened by their escape, Brentford pressed for an equaliser and, with five minutes remaining, rode their luck in finding one. A suspicious hint of handball helped 78th minute substitute Tommy Smith to control a pass to the left of the visitors’ goal before a treacherous deflection off Talal Ben Haim sent his right-footed snapshot spinning past a wrongfooted Stephen Henderson. Shrewdly acquired by Warburton shortly before the season kicked off, the streetwise veteran would dispute any suggestion of luck, instead pointing out that fortune favours those willing to chance their arm in unpromising circumstances. He’s been doing it so for long now that it wouldn’t pay to argue with him.
However lucky Smith’s goal was, the force was with the home side in the waning minutes. South London hearts were almost broken when Jackson’s anxious foul on Nick Proschwitz gave busy midfielder Alex Pritchard an opportunity to nick the points from a perfectly located free kick. Henderson was well beaten as the ball clipped the bar on its way to safety. Before the whistle, Smith blasted a last kick chance wildly into the crowd.
Another of the new arrivals to impress, Henderson did his bit with two vital saves to keep Charlton level before Vetokele scored. His impressive first half acrobatics kept out Judge’s dangerously deflected effort before, in the second period, he duplicated Button’s save from Vetokele by diving to his left to turn aside Andre Gray’s accurately aimed header.
As yet another debutant at roasting Griffin Park, Peeters will hopefully sift more positives than negatives from a testing afternoon. He’s seen it all and he won’t need to be told that if you don’t take your chances, it costs you. But at least Charlton made chances, something you couldn’t often say last season. And in taking one of them, Igor Vetokele is already on his way to a rewarding relationship with his new fans. They can really work with that first name!
Brentford: Button, McCormack, Craig, Tarkowski, Bidwell, Dallas, Pritchard (Smith 78), Douglas, Odubajo (Tebar 46), Gray (Proschwitz 67), Judge. Not used: Lee, Dean, Yennaris, Moore. Booked: Douglas.
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Bikey-Amougou, Ben Haim, Wiggins, Gudmundsson (Fox 90), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (Moussa 90), Vetokele, Tucudean (Harriott 62). Not used: Pope, Wilson, Morrison, Pigott. Booked: Buyens.
It’s never been easy to park near The Valley on Charlton’s matchdays. So before the club generously offered me a spot in Valley Grove behind the away end, I tried my luck up on the heights around Charlton House, which made it a piece of cake cruising down Charlton Church Lane, but not so pleasant toiling uphill later on, especially when we lost.
Anyway, me and the kids shlepped up and down for years until some all-about bright spark tipped me off about a new cul-de-sac, cut into Victoria Way, called Frank Burton Close. Talk about your Eureka moment! This little diamond serves straight into Delamere Road, leads up to the Valley cafe and a few minutes later you’re among your own. There were signs warning that it was resident parking only but nobody seemed to mind and the busies never turned up to make life unpleasant. Every one a winner, so to speak.
At some point or other, I made desultory enquiries as to the identity of our benefactor and the consensus was that Frank Burton was probably some self-serving councillor in search of immortality. These were the days before the peerless Colin Cameron put things in order for us and certainly before the likes of Google and Wikipedia revealed all. To be honest, I was always a lazy so-and-so and quickly lost interest in him.
And that’s how it stayed until I woke up to the fact that Frank “Bronco” Burton was among the most interesting men who ever played for Charlton. Interesting – and indisputably brave.
Born in Mexico in 1890, Frank was pursuing a non-league football career with West Ham when World War 1 began. Enlisting in December 1914 in the Sportsman’s Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers before joining the regiment’s 1st Battalion, he spent the entire war on the Western Front, taking part in the battles of Ypres, the Somme and Cambrai. Sgt. Burton was wounded six times and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire by the French Government. Details of his individual heroism have proved elusive but a visit to the Royal Fusiliers’ museum might be worth the effort.
Not demobbed until 1920, Frank returned to West Ham while still a soldier and scored his only goal for the East Enders in their first ever League victory at Lincoln City on September 6th 1919. Signed for Charlton by manager Walter Rayner in May 1921, the 6’1″ 12 st defender made 25 appearances during the club’s historic 1921-22 campaign, added 38 more the following season and was ever-present throughout the fledglings’ amazing progress, as a Third Division (South) side, to the 4th round (quarter-finals) of the FA Cup.
After knocking out Northampton Town and Darlington in qualifying rounds, Charlton polished off First Division giants in Manchester City (2-1), Preston North End (2-0) and West Bromwich Albion (1-0) before eventual Cup winners Bolton Wanderers got the better of them (1-0) at The Valley on March 10th 1923. Legend has it that Frank’s colourful teammate Abraham “Kosha” Goodman was poised to equalise when the collapse of a low wall behind the covered goal distracted him. Whatever the truth of that, seasoned war veteran Bronco Burton was ideally equipped to assist the many casualties.
Fifteen more league games during 1924-25 brought to an end Frank’s war-interrupted football career and he turned out for Charlton for the last time in a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic on November 8th 1924. Following a stint as player-trainer with Grays-Thurrock, the swashbuckling Spanish-speaking adventurer briefly became the second manager of Real Oviedo in the Asturias region of Northern Spain, a relatively new club which escaped almost certain extinction just three years ago.
Frank “Bronco” Burton’s subsequent obscurity might be explained by the fact that he died in Auckland, New Zealand in 1967. After what he had been through, no doubt a quieter life had its appeal. But from Mexico to New Zealand, with desperate experiences on the Western Front and more pleasant memories of a career in professional football in between, this was clearly a bloke who gave life all he had to give.
I very rarely park in Frank Burton Close these days and I’m hoping against hope that I haven’t ruined it for those that still do. Thanks are due to Greenwich Council for their imagination in commemorating this remarkable man. They wouldn’t go and spoil it by climbing all over the Charlton fans “in the know” about this parking loophole, would they? God bless his memory, Frank would take a dim view of that.
I really want to talk about the Greenwich riverside, and perhaps about the industrial past – but, before that to say ‘thank you’ to Rob for this slot, and that it is flattering to be asked to write next after Denise – and of course to wish her the best of luck in her new role in the future.
I should also mention the experience of having been a local councillor – I could write so much on that – and also to say that I know how many desperate issues there are to be addressed in our area. Most of them – tunnels, supermarkets, roads, housing - are things taking place because of the development process and – sadly – they are really too much for one old lady ex-councillor to take on. I’m happy to support other people. But don’t think that because I haven’t mentioned them here that I don’t know or care about them.
The ex-councillor experience has taught me that all of this relentless development process derives from a whole complex of bodies – local, regional, national and international. There are boards and committees and partnerships all over the place making decisions about our area, and who knows who they all are and what they are deciding?? I also know that there are people out there who will argue that the future of such a piece of real estate as the Greenwich riverside is a national issue and not one for local people to have an input into. That’s as may be. Not, obviously, a view I would subscribe to myself.
Regarding the Greenwich riverside – there are a myriad issues about the riverside itself and how we use it. I am not sure that it is really thought through though – but I am aware of people who 20 years ago were trying to force the issue. For instance, it does seem that we have been plonking down developments wherever there is a gap on all those nasty old workplaces (more on that later). In the 1990s there was a panic measure by the then Tory minister, John Gummer, when it was realised that there were no wharves left via which building site spoil could be removed. That led to the safeguarded wharves – and missed out boat repair sites. Hence the only boat yard on the Thames is now on one of our development sites and under pressure to move. But that’s just one issue –and I do know about the disquiet among some local people about workplaces being removed from Charlton riverside sites. Who is informing the developers and the planners on these issues??
Regarding Enderby Wharf – I am so pleased that a group has been set up and is working on this. I would also say that, as part of the historic riverside, it begs a number of issues. This site, a key one in the development of the internet and electronic communications has somehow been ignored by our tourism and heritage decision makers as part of the old and dirty industry we need to get rid of. (I could go on for hours about the Dome in its Millennium mode and how they went on and on about the new electronic world while writing off how it has been achieved). The next thing to go, I guess, will be the gasholder – and why will it be described as a nasty dirty old piece of scrap and good riddance rather than a piece of stunningly innovative 19th century engineering? Why do we ignore the whole history of scientific innovation and expertise in our area?? I could go on about that for hours too.
How are councillors informed about the background to the sites on which they are agreeing to planning applications?? Reports are commissioned on the history of most sites. Councillors won’t see those reports (but I have sometimes had them passed to me by the developer). The reports are usually commissioned from professional archaeologists, who – bless them – are not always trained to evaluate the historical context of sites. Some reports do devolve to actual historians and some of them are stunningly good – and sadly will only ever see the inside of a filing cabinet. But some of them – well! None of them are subject to any evaluation process or peer reviews. So if they are full of terrible mistakes, that’s just tough. I am aware of a current report on a local site where the archaeologist author has simply ignored a major industrial past user – one which has been written up by several different authors and is clearly shown on historic maps. But that means as far as the planners and developers are concerned it never existed and they do not have to take it into account. I have known Councillors expressing dismay when they have been told too late of the historic importance of a site from an external source.
So – back to the Greenwich riverside. The way its history is dealt with is just one subject among many and I have probably written too much about that. I think local people need to be able to say what they think and to try to get an input into it. I hope that with the Enderby campaign we are going to get somewhere – but there is so much more that needs to be done. I am very open to listening to what people think and to help where I can. One thing about having been on the Council is that you learn a lot about ways through the process, develop contacts and get a bit of an idea who to talk to and how to go about it. So, please get in touch.
And just to say – please support the Enderby Campaign - and FOGWOFT (Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels – another subject I could go on about at length). And let’s give four cheers to the residents of Ballast Quay and their stunning new website on their area and its heritage - and also the group now working on riverside steps and stairs - and the people who worked on the coaling jetty project (now taken over by the developer), and the river as a World Heritage Site – and all the rest.
Have a look at:
After a quiet few weeks on the river for big ships up as far as Greenwich, there’s a glut of cruise ship spotting opportunities over the next seven days.
First up is small Norwegian MS GANN, the “wood turning cruise ship” on which young sailors learn the skills of navigation, deck work, catering and more. She is due to pass Greenwich inbound on her way to her mooring next to HMS Belfast at about 1pm on Tuesday and pass Greenwich outbound at about 3.30pm on Wednesday.
Popular visitor SILVER CLOUD is also visiting the Upper Pool, passing Greewich on her way up river shortly after 7pm next Sunday (3rd August). The 157m cruise ship operated by Silverseas will remain next to HMS Belfast until Monday evening, departing under Tower Bridge at 18:45 and should be seen passing Greenwich about half-an-hour later.
Back on dry land, preparations continue for the Tall Ships Festival which will take place at the beginning of September with some shops already starting to dress themselves for the occasion, such as Nauticalia (below).
Businesses wanting a tall ships marketing pack, which includes flags, bunting and t shirts for staff, can contact the council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8921 8689