Charlton 0 Middlesbrough 0
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Stretching now to nine games, Charlton’s unbeaten record was extended in this dull encounter with Middlesbrough. Their recent progress has resembled not so much a glamorous cavalry charge as the painful footslogging of the Poor Bloody Infantry. But Boro joined eight other sides who, to date, have failed to lower the Addicks’ colours. Which is impressive but just a little misleading.
A sixth draw of this still embryonic season followed familiar lines. Over an hour was spent wearing down opponents wearied by their midweek Cup exploits before finally erupting into a period of steady late pressure, which had the Teessiders hanging on for the final whistle. But a recent lack of punch up front, where the early season threat of Igor Vetokele has been blunted, meant this goalless stand-off came as no surprise. And when a stroke of luck might have come in handy, Charlton ended up empty-handed.
The first half shouldn’t have been inflicted on either purist or philistine. Fully committed to their new, deliberate policy of keep-ball, Charlton passed ponderously among themselves, sporadically crossing the halfway line with all the momentum of trench-sapped veterans. At least this time they stepped on no self-laid mines. But during a tedious 45 minutes, the equally methodical if uninspired visitors looked marginally likelier to score.
Opening with the temporary confidence derived from taking Liverpool all the way to an epic penalty shoot-out, Boro made all the early running. Dangerous wide man Albert Adomah began a personally eventful afternoon by combining with Adam Reach to lash an inviting chance into the sidenet, then tested Stephen Henderson’s reactions from 30 yards. Sandwiched between Adomah’s efforts, Adam Reach was awkwardly brought down by Johnnie Jackson near the left byline; as The Valley gulped collectively, referee Gavin Ward took a benign view of a “seen “em given” penalty.
With the Addicks struggling to find a foothold, left back George Friend twice met inswinging corners from Adam Clayton but headed narrowly wide at the far post on each occasion. Hot prospect Patrick Bamford’s 25 yard snapshot on the turn was deflected too close for comfort while, before the break, Kike Garcia’s lob skimmed the bar. What sounds deceptively like incessant pressure amounted, in fact, to no more than a slight edge during which Charlton, for all their studied possession, failed dismally to trouble Dimi Konstantopoulos.
No doubt feeling the effects of their Anfield exertions, Middlesbrough began to give ground in the second period, though initially the alert attentions of Andre Bikey were required to check Adomah, after possession was conceded by the disappointing Yoni Buyens. Franck Moussa had replaced desperately unlucky Johann Berg Gudmundsson at the interval but it was the introduction of George Tucudean for an out-of-touch Jackson, with Jordan Cousins moving infield from the left, which launched Charlton’s determined bid for all three points.
Hardworking Cousins had already created his side’s first chance by burrowing in from the right byline to deliver a low cross which Daniel Ayala hacked desperately clear before Vetokele could pounce. But it was aggressive Rhoys Wiggins who pierced Boro’s penalty box to provide Frederic Bulot with space for a cleverly improvised sideways-on volley which beat Konstantopoulos but rebounded harmlessly off the keeper’s left-hand post.
Boro were beginning to creak and it was Adomah who most notably succumbed to the pressure. Already booked for a clumsy foul on Cousins, the winger’s violent assault on Wiggins actually qualified for a straight red card but, alarmingly, referee Ward first indicated a foul by Wiggins before coming to his senses and issuing Adomah with a second, fateful yellow. With eight minutes remaining, the Northeasterners were in serious trouble.
Perhaps a little fortunate to be still around himself following a spiteful “elbowing” spat with Bamford, Bikey escaped the relentless booing of his former Riverside fans by advancing upfield for an abortive free kick from Buyens and being ordered to stay put by positive boss Bob Peeters. Showing nimble feet in unfamiliar territory, the big centre back picked out Bulot, who quickly transferred the ball to the onrushing Lawrie Wilson. Shooting on the run from 10 yards, the substitute’s apparent sure thing was denied by Konstantopoulos’ superb, spreadeagled block superb at his near post. Charlton weren’t quite finished yet and it took Clayton’s alert reactions to scrape Wiggins’ last minute header off the line.
So an unbeaten run, owing more to dogged determination than to seamless brilliance, continues. Peeters has knitted together a solid, unspectacular side in an impressively short time but before we get carried away, check this space on Wednesday morning, in the wake of a tricky visit to table-topping Norwich City. You never know, the Addicks might just turn out to be cats among canaries at Carrow Road. One thing’s for sure. Either fur or feathers will fly. Possibly both if they draw yet again.
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Gudmundsson (Moussa 46), Buyens, Bulot (Wilson 85), Jackson (Tucudean 69), Cousins, Vetokele. Not used: Pope, Morrison, Fox, Ahearne-Grant. Booked: Solly.
Boro: Konstantopoulos, Nue, Ayala, Omeruo (Gibson 71), Friend, Adomah, Clayton, Tomlin (Wildschut 88), Reach, Bamford, Garcia Martinez (Leadbitter 76). Not used: Blackman, Fredericks, Ledesma, Husband. Sent off (two bookings): Adomah.
Referee: Gavin Ward. Att: 16,110 (1,967 visiting).
Royal Greenwich’s Tall Ships Regatta may have been and gone but there’s still been plenty of tall ships to see on the Thames over the past week and also the arrival of a Royal Navy frigate.
On Monday, the Lord Nelson tall ship came down the river after being in the Upper Pool since Friday. The vessel, owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust and able to be crewed by disabled sailors, had arrived in London last week upon her return from a two-year, 50,000 nautical mile voyage around the world. Here’s a photo of her heading down river last Monday lunchtime.
Tuesday saw the arrival on the Thames of HMS Westminster, a Duke-class frigate that was last in the capital just about eighteen months ago. She came up Bugsby’s Reach on the eastern side of the Greenwich Peninsula on Tuesday at about lunchtime and entered West India Dock, where she will remain until Monday.
On Wednesday, it was the turn of yet another tall ship to make an appearance on the Thames. This time it was the Stavros S Niarchos – the training ship owned by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. With a crew of young people sponsored by HSBC, the Voyage of Achievement came up the river, going up to Tower Bridge where the young sailors manned the yard arms as she entered the Upper Pool. Here’s a photo of Stavros S Niarchos coming past Greenwich with the power station behind her.
Also back in London is the Shtandart – the impressive Russian replica of Peter the Great’s ship. She was here for the Tall Ships Regatta and after going down to Ramsgate following the festival, she is now back in London, currently at Hermitage Moorings in Wapping (pictured below).
Last week I went to a conference on gasholders. I have been researching gas industry history for many, many years and we have a large and important (and probably doomed) holder just down the road. I used to sit at Council meetings with a little paper model of a gas holder on my desk – the only person who noticed it was Chris Roberts (and he laughed, he did, honestly).
The conference was organised by the Institution of Gas Engineers — and the industry is one that doesn’t really recognise people who don’t work for it (never has) but they did allow specialist historians like me to go. But they did get us all to stand up at the start so we could be identified as the aliens among them.
The speakers were all gas industry professionals – engineers who had risen to become regional heads of this or that, they spoke on issues of demolition, remediation and much else. They clearly all felt a bit guilty – one of them said that they had make it clear how much they loved the holders they were pulling down – and then ran for the door.
There was a film of the very expensive work being done on the reconstructed Kings Cross holders – and details of the interesting things being done round the world with these remarkable structures. At the end we were given a card game ‘gasholder trumps’, and I am sorry to say that it doesn’t include our great East Greenwich holder.
So – we have a remarkable holder here in East Greenwich. We used to have two – but that’s another story. Together they were the biggest concentration of gas storage, world wide, ever.
We still have East Greenwich No.1. It was built in the early 1880s for South Metropolitan Gas Compay’s shiny new better-than-better-best gas works. It was the conception of the innovation-mad company chair, George Livesey. It is very big – biggest in the world when built, maybe the biggest in Europe now and very plain. It is one of three such holders – a recent report on them by a historical engineering consultant concludes that it is on “George Livesey’s revolutionary cylindrical shell principle …. the structural innovation (set) a new bench-mark for gasholder design… the progression of increasing size and sophistication in design was continued at the East Greenwich site”. In conversation I have heard it said that the three Livesey holders compare to others ‘like Concorde to a bi-plane”.
It is big – because it is cheaper to store in bulk, because it means gas workers have time to go to church on busy Sundays. But it also needs to be safe – safe in high winds, safe while bombs drop round it, and safe in the terrible event of a gas escape – and all of these things have happened. It is also very plain – and that is because it is a very early example of the idea, which became current among artists, architects and designers in following years that a structure must express itself, must be honest with what it is. No more Victorian rosettes and plaques – it is a gas holder and that should be enough. I have tried to describe it as an early modern movement building, but not sure anyone is listening.
Anyway – what is going to happen to it. The Council wanted it down when there were plans for a new school nearby. There would be a lot of teachers coming to Council meetings and bleating on about pollution and danger. I wanted to jump and and say ‘yes, all that, and fair enough – but are you also teaching these children about effective Victorian engineering – about aspiration, innovation, ingenuity and high standards’.
Don’t know what has happened though about discussions on it between its owners and the people from developers and the GLA who run the Peninsula.
It is sort of clear from the Conference that all gas holders are now decommissioned. Or at least some of all of them, because various people kept remembering ones that are still in use. But I think we have run out of gas here in East Greenwich. I did speak to the relevant engineer but he wasn’t at all forthcoming about its future. So – no better informed than we started.
There are very interesting reuse schemes for gas holders all around the world. Many communities are very proud of these structures. If I can quote a very very senior figure in Greenwich Council ‘it is an amazing and outstandingly dramatic structure in its landscape’. It could look wonderful. As ever in Greenwich, we have something outstanding but we don’t seem to know, or care.
I really enjoyed the conference, riveted listening to the speakers – and hope we can repeat it, with an emphasis this time – one what do we do with gas industry heritage
I am available for talks on George Livesey, or the gas industry in Greenwich, or the early London Gas Industry. Happy to pass on info about the conference programme and also on various stuff I have on the East Greenwich holder (including the report quoted above). Happy to pass on the ‘make your own gas holder kit’.
I must work out how to play that little card game – gasholder trumps – any ideas?
Rotherham United 1 (Becchio 70) Charlton 1 (Gudmundsson 27).
Kevin Nolan reports from New York Stadium.
Battered from pillar to post by Rotherham, Charlton staggered unsteadily out of South Yorkshire, still clinging tenaciously to their unbeaten record after ekeing out their fifth draw of the season, four of them by this 1-1 scoreline. They are making a virtue of stubborn resistance to pressure, most of it almost perversely brought on themselves. But it can’t last. Not unless they start to occasionally operate off the front foot for a change.
Ironically, the Addicks might have emerged with their first victory on the road if their new tactic of studious interpassing near goal hadn’t rebounded on them. With 20 minutes left, Tal Ben Haim was caught lollygagging in possession by Luciano Becchio and, seconds later, his carelessness was punished by the substitute’s far post equaliser. A rudimentary clearance of his lines might have been a shrewder idea but what do we philistines know? Well, we do know it’s terrific to have principles but they’re hardly iron-clad and should be adaptable to circumstances. As Tommy Cooper helpfully observed, “if you don’t like my principles… I’ve got others.”
Still on the subject of poncing about at the back, it’s becoming clear that the word is out concerning Charlton’s cerebral approach. Twice in the opening exchanges, the disappointing Yoni Buyens was closed down by Richie Smallwood uncomfortably close to his penalty area. No harm ensued but the message was unmistakeable. Charlton are playing a dangerous game, one at which they are far from experts. And they’ve been rumbled.
Settling down eventually, the South East Londoners edged the first half. Chances were evenly distributed, with long shots from Jordan Cousins and the ever-reliable Johnnie Jackson narrowly off-target; they were countered by Alex Revell’s effort on the turn, saved smartly by Stephen Henderson, and Joe Skarz’s downward header, which directed an accurate cross from Frazer Richardson perilously close to Henderson’s left post. After Rhoys Wiggins had survived a reasonable penalty shout for awkwardly bundling into Paul Green, the Addicks took the lead before the half hour.
There didn’t seem much danger to Scott Loach as Johann Berg Gudmundsson picked up a loose ball on the right, moved inside Smallwood and let fly left-footed from 25 yards. His superbly struck drive left Loach helpless on its unstoppable way into the bottom left corner. Gudmundsson was the pick of the visitors until he tired and was replaced by Callum Harriott, whose bright promise has faded and who might profitably spend less time badgering his boss about playing time and rather more in re-locating his elusive mojo.
Gudmundsson’s excellent goal pointed the way to a reasonably convincing victory. After Revell had forced another save from Henderson, Franck Moussa stung Loach’s hands with a piledriver and both Wiggins and Jackson skimmed the bar from long range. But that was virtually the last heard from the Addicks as an attacking force.
An arduous second period was fought out almost exclusively in Charlton’s half as the Millers ground out pressure on their visitors. Half-time substitute Lee Frecklington sidefooted a point-blank chance at Henderson; Jordan Bowery’s “goal” was correctly ruled out as offside; Paul Taylor made a ballooned mess of converting at the far post after Bowery prodded back another menacing cross from Richardson from the opposite corner.
A rare response saw Andre Bikey head Cousins’ outswinging corner over the bar but an equaliser was, by now, looking inevitable. And when it came, it was largely self-inflicted. With time to launch a clearance downfield in recommended but currently disdained fashion, Ben Haim chose instead to seek out Bikey, dithered vaguely and had his pocked picked by Becchio. Two passes later, Ben Pringle’s cutely delivered cross was nodded past Henderson by Becchio at the far post and Charlton’s unbeaten record was in severe peril.
The beleaguered Addicks should have fallen behind but Kari Arnason headed Pringle’s corner wastefully high and lived on their nerves again as Taylor’s hard-driven cross struck Jackson on an unspecified part of his anatomy inside the 18-yard line. United were denied a penalty, according to their wildly-popular Scottish manager Steve Evans, purely down to their small-club status. There was some other puzzling stuff about Jackson being as fat as Evans is because of stuffing the ball inside his shirt. He also moaned a bit mysteriously about the unfairness of Charlton spending money on new players but unhelpfully neglected to reveal who they were. All a bit garbled really but do make allowances. Evans is clearly no Chic Murray and was working without a script.
The stout manager’s mood was hardly improved by the marvellous last minute save made by Henderson to keep out Skarz’s sure thing header but it could have been worse if Loach hadn’t scrambled desperately back to scrape Frederic Bulot’s optimistic effort off his goalline, a close thing which meant honours shared between plucky little Rotherham, their not-so-little boss and Southern fat cats Charlton.
Rotherham: Loach, Richardson, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz, Wordsworth, Smallwood (Frecklington 46), Green, Bowery., Taylor (Pringle 68), Revell (Becchio 39). Not used: Broadfoot, Collin, Derbyshire, Clarke-Harris.
Booked: Morgan, Becchio.
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Gudmundsson (Harriott 80), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (Fox 90), Moussa (Bulot 60), Vetokele. Not used: Pope, Wilson, Morrison, Tucudean.
Booked: Moussa, Buyens.
Referee: Darren Deadman. Att: 9,620 (1,106 visiting).
Charlton 1 (Bikey 25) Wolves (Baath 65).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Their perfect home record is no more but Charlton remain unbowed after seven league games. Those are the bare facts after a draw was doggedly earned against newly promoted Wolves, who dominated possession, racked up an overwhelming 11-1 corner count and have only themselves -and a glaring lack of punch up front – to blame for returning to the Black Country searching their kitbag for two missing points.
Relaxed, confident and well-drilled, the visitors subjected the Addicks to a stern examination of their unbeaten credentials, struck the woodwork twice but failed to match their cohesive approach play with accurate finishing. On the rare occasions they hit the target, Stephen Henderson answered the call with several fine saves, his excellence generously if ruefully acknowledged by Wolves manager Kenny Jackett.
Having conceded Wanderers’ overall superiority, any suggestion that Charlton were lucky can be dismissed out of hand. They defended with admirable spirit, made chances of their own and showed, not for the first time this season, a bloodyminded refusal to be beaten. Their counterattacking tactics do, ominously, expose them to long periods of pressure and they will come unstuck eventually. But then, so will every other team in an intensely competitive league. In fact, with Nottingham Forest the exception, they already have.
In this tight, absorbing clash, Charlton actually made the better start. Before Wolves had settled, Jordan Cousins’ cross was headed narrowly off target by George Tucudean, who quickly followed by guiding a crosshot from Igor Vetokele’s perceptive pass wastefully wide. Responding immediately, the consistently dangerous James Henry’s resourceful overhead effort and a blistering drive from Bakary Sako were both thwarted by Henderson’s vigilance. Rangy midfielder Lee Evans then went close from 30 yards before the home side, somewhat against the run of play, moved ahead.
A constant threat to his towering markers, Vetokele pursued Johnnie Jackson’s pass and worried a right wing corner from Danny Baath. Cousins’ outswinger was met at the near post by Andre Bikey, who squeezed an expertly controlled volley inside the right post, helped apparently by Tal Ben Haim’s artful block on the scorer’s delegated marker. Eagle-eyed Jackett was distinctly unimpressed by the Israeli’s dastardly conduct and said as much -with feeling. Leave off, Ken, the penalty area’s a morass of mutual fouls when a corner’s on its way. Ben Haim did his job. Your defender clearly didn’t do his. Move on, mate. Nothing to see here.
A minute after the goal, Tucudean had another chance to double the lead. Slipped through by the mercurial Vetokele, he again shot wide. But it was, by now, the Midlanders who were calling the tune, with Leon Best getting the better of Ben Haim to set up an unmarked George Saville’s low drive from 20 yards. Sprawling to his left, Henderson’s fingertips brilliantly diverted the ball on to his left hand post and, via his entire goalline, back to safety.
The second half largely belonged to Wolves, with the Addicks unapologetically hanging on at times. As the pressure mounted, Sako’s shot was saved by Henderson; Best turned sharply to shave a post; then selfishly shot into the sidenet with Nouha Dicko better placed to his right. Just past the hour, Henderson rescued his side again with a splendid save from Sako but the resultant right wing corner finally brought Charlton’s downfall.
Kevin McDonald’s near post delivery was met by Baath, whose forceful header broke even Henderson’s heroic resistance. All of Baath’s colleagues had, it goes without Jackett saying, behaved with scrupulous fairness in the six-yard box chaos. Of course they did.
There was only one winner now and it wasn’t Charlton. Or, rather more surprisingly, Wolves. Henry did his best to decide the issue but crashed an angled cannonball against a post before Jackson, on the business end of a deftly headed pass from Vetokele, closed in on Carl Ikeme, drew a bead but dragged his crosshot lamely wide of the far post.
A more pressing concern for a relieved Bob Peeters will be the painful arm injury sustained by Vetokele as he disputed Jackson’s through pass with Ikeme in the last minute. The irrepressible Angolan hasn’t scored in the last two home fixtures but his work elsewhere has been priceless. One man doesn’t make a team but this one has made himself almost indispensable to Charlton.
And, by the way, Andre – lovely little somersault after scoring, hugely impressive and all that. But, er, maybe better knocked on the head in case you end up, er, knocked on the head. In the meantime, get plenty of practice. Just in case.
Charlton: Henderson, Gomez, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Wilson (Bulot 74), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins, Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 61). Not used: Pope, Morrison, Harriott, Church, Fox.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Stearman, Baath, Golbourne, Henry (Jacobs 87), Saville (Dicko 46), McDonald, Evans,Sako, Clarke (Edwards 81). Not used: McCarey, Rowe, Val La Parra, Ricketts.
Referee: P. Miller. Att: 15,973 (1,644 visiting).
Charlton 1 (Buyens 3,pen) Watford O.
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Sticking to a mantra almost as ancient as football itself, Charlton claimed their third consecutive home win in seeing off another pre-season promotion candidate. Win at home, draw away, that’s the well-rehearsed advice being followed to the letter. With all three of their away games finishing level, the Addicks are proceeding neatly and nicely. So far so symmetrically good.
Sturdy defending, helped unapologetically by the occasional stroke of luck, was the key to this important victory. And when that resistance was breached, Stephen Henderson’s excellent goalkeeping did the rest. Several of his saves were outstanding, the sprawling, point-blank block from Lloyd Dyer near the end a matchwinner in its own right. It seems that Bob Peeters’ preference for Henderson’s experience over young Nick Pope’s bright promise was the correct call.
After going ahead through Yoni Buyens’ early spotkick, Charlton protected their lead for 97 frequently nervous minutes as the Hornets (re-branded more glamorously in the programme as the “Golden Boys” by a visiting pressman) pressed anxiously for an equaliser. There were a few close shaves but this was to be a frustrating afternoon for Watford’s debutant manager Oscar Garcia, who raised one or two reasonable beefs later on but didn’t, mercifully, waste time in disputing Charlton’s obvious penalty.
Catching the visitors snoozing complacently, Jordan Cousins won a duel for possession near the centre circle before spotting Igor Vetokele’s typically intelligent run behind a startled defence. In rounding Heurelho Gomes, the alert sharpshooter was unceremoniously chopped down by the panicked goalkeeper. Spared a red card by the proximity of his outmanouevred centre backs, Gomes was sent the wrong way by Buyens, who varied his recent technique and calmly rolled the penalty into the bottom left corner. Some cool character, this Buyens bloke. Not to mention one hell of a player.
Despite the untimely setback, Watford were hardly likely to submit meekly, certainly not with prolific captain Troy Deeney leading their attack. The Addicks were still enjoying their success when a mix-up between Chris Solly and Tal Ben Haim allowed Deeney sight of goal. A deliberately curled effort beat Henderson but clipped the outside of the far post.
A mixture of skill and muscle, Deeney was a restless handful and tested Henderson with a crisp drive after Matej Vydra smartly dummied Almen Abdi’s low centre; as the Addicks struggled to cope, the centre forward eluded Ben Haim, bore down on Henderson but went down under slight contact from the pursuing centre back.
It closely resembled a penalty but we really must trust our officials and referee Andrew Madley saw neither harm nor foul. Be fair, though, Garcia’s post-match gripe had a ring of authenticity to it.
Before the interval, the Hornets (I’ve had a game go but I just can’t get on board this Golden Boys business) stepped up the pressure and a fierce shot from Ikechi Anya produced a plunging save from Henderson. Three bookings within four pre-interval minutes, two of them for deliberate fouls on the unmanageable Vetokele, showed them in a more dubious light even if the Addicks were hardly disciplinary angels themselves.
Little changed after the break. Watford called the tune although Vetokele might have made more of Solly’s cross than head tamely over the bar. Most of the action took place in front of Henderson’s goal, however, with Lewis McGugan blasting Deeney’s clever knockdown wildy high, then substitute Dyer blazing Daniel Tozser’s cross into the sidenet. With time becoming the visitors’ enemy, Henderson came brilliantly into his own.
The defiant keeper’s diving save to keep out Tozser’s vicious drive was superb enough but the block he made on Dyer stood out as special. As the winger sought to finish a move started by Deeney and continued by Joel Ekstrand’s astute pass, Henderson flew off his line, spread himself and superbly charged down the winger’s goalbound effort. An overdue clean sheet was his -and Charlton’s – reward.
With no fewer than six of Saturday’s starters newcomers this season, Peeters earns considerable credit for blending them into a spirited, organised side, clearly capable of standing up to any of the Championship’s fancied contenders. Largely backfoot operators, they invite pressure, draw their opponents’ lead, then counterpunch impressively. It’s too early to tell how far their “clever southpaw” tactics will take them but it seems there’s something happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear. For what it’s worth, I intend to hang around to find out. But I tend to hang around anyway.
Charlton: Henderson, Solly, Ben Haim, Bikey, Wiggins, Gudmundsson (Wilson 28), Buyens, Jackson (Harriott 77), Cousins, Vetokele, Tucudean (Moussa 55). Not used: Pope, Gomez, Morrison, Church.
Booked: Gudmundsson, Wiggins, Buyens, Cousins.
Watford: Gomes, Hoban (Paredes 46), Ekstrand, Angella, Anya, Abdi, Tozser, McGugan (Ighalo 77), Pudil, Deeney, Vydra (Dyer 61). Not used: Doyley, Cathcart, Fabrini, Bond.
Booked: Gomes, Abdi, Ekstrand, Hoban.
Referee: Andrew Madley. Att: 17,628 (3,199 visiting).
The five day Tall Ships Festival has drawn to a close with a beautiful parade of sail. On a gloriously warm day, the fifty ships that have been in London for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival mustered up towards Limehouse before being led down river by Polish sail training ship Dar Mlodziezy.
Crowds packed along the riverside to see the parade of barques, brigatines, schooners, sloops, cutters and ketches snake around the bends of the river. Here is a selection of photographs taken over the past few days in Greenwich.
The biggest tall ships event on the Thames for a quarter of a century is getting under way, with about 50 ships in the capital for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta.
Over the next five days there will be lots to see on the river and also plenty of activities taking place on dry land, too. Today’s events include a parade of traditional Thames Sailing Barges, a spectacular launch performance from a Catalan theatre group at the ORNC and fireworks on the river as tall ships sail by.
The beautiful vessels are moored at Greenwich Pier, Victoria Deep Water (on the Peninsula), Royal Arsenal Pier at Woolwich and at Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf. The stunning Polish sail training ship Dar Mlodziezy is at a mooring just off Enderby Wharf.
As in the past two previous years, Sail Greenwich is offering ticketed sailings from Woolwich Pier – check here for latest availability
Morgenster arriving in London yesterday after having sailed up from Falmouth
Morgenster passing the Old Royal Naval College
Fireworks last night on the Thames as the Tall Ships began their sailings up and down the river
Fireworks seen from the stern of Loth Lorien
Next Tuesday, all of the ships will must at Greenwich before sailing down the Thames at 1.30pm in what should be a spectacular Parade of Sail. Here’s a video from the last time such an event took place, at the Tall Ships Race of 1989.
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.