Charlton - Chelsea [R]

Discussion in 'Charlton Athletic' started by Dapper Doug, Aug 18, 2002.

  1. Dapper Doug

    Dapper Doug New Member

    Oct 18, 1999
    Somerset, Mass.
    Due to technical problems, the match report cannot be posted at tonight. As a result, and with apologies, the report appears below.

    10-man CHARLTON 2, CHELSEA 3

    By Mick Collins

    It's always an interesting day when Chelsea come to town. From the moment Ken Bates and the rest of his ostentatious entourage come strolling through the car park, signing autographs as they go, it's clear that they want to introduce a bit of show business to the place.

    Once upon a time, Charlton might have found it a bit daunting, facing a side so laden with foreign talent that Esperanto is the dressing room language of choice, but no more. In front of a packed crowd, making the most of the blazing afternoon, they set about showing how little they cared for the reputations of their supposedly glamorous opponents. By the end, they were left shell shocked. It was show business alright, but none of The Valley crowd expected it to end up as a weepie.

    Celestine Babayaro took just seven minutes to panic and slice a clearance skywards and, crucially, back towards the centre of his own area. Jonatan Johansson's flying leap diverted the ball back to Claus Jensen, who showed the coolness and precision he has so effortlessly demonstrated throughout the entire pre-season campaign. Looking right and passing left, he picked out the unmarked figure of Paul Konchesky on the edge of the area, and rolled the ball through into an acre of space.

    Konchesky accepted the invitation with relish, sending the ball scorching past the dive of Carlo Cudicini and into the far corner of the net. The Addicks were ahead and, as the north stand quickly and vocally observed, top of the league. The crowd went wild, with the exception of the away section, which went suddenly silent. It was frantic stuff.

    Eight minutes later, and Chelsea appeared certain to level as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was sent screeching clear, only for Gary Rowett to stride back, overhaul him, and divert the ball to safety. As far as making a mark on your home debut went, it wasn't a bad way to go about it. Despite the sweltering conditions, both sides were setting about their work at a prodigious rate of knots.

    Still looking far from comfortable when put under pressure, Babayaro's next contribution to Chelsea's cause was to collect a booking, after panicking under Euell's incessant demands for possession. After a fierce spell of Chelsea retaliation, following the goal, the flow was just starting to return to the home side, when their cause was savagely handicapped.

    Konchesky leapt for a ball with Chelsea's new signing Enrique De Lucas, and with both of them missing the ball, appeared to sail on and into his opponent, chest first. There appeared to be little, if any, contact with the arm, but to the collective astonishment of the entire ground, referee Graham Barber marched over and brandished a red card.

    There was general mayhem, with Mervyn Day apoplectic on the touchline, while Konchesky jogged away from the scene, as baffled as anyone by his change of fortunes.

    Ten minutes later, and with just ten more remaining to the break, the Addicks responded in emphatic style. Chris Powell's charge for the area was curtailed illegally by Marcel Desailly, and from the resulting free kick, Richard Rufus met Jensen's far-post cross. From a couple of yards out, he thundered his header home, and as Chelsea sought a post mortem and searched in vain for a respite from the referee, The Valley returned to delighted, rather than outraged uproar.

    Alan Curbishley had, not for the first time, kept his nerve in a crisis, not made a knee-jerk substitution after the sending off, and seen his faith rewarded. All he needed was for his side to make it safely to the half time interval with their margin intact, but it was not to be.

    With a minute of the half left, De Lucas skipped around the outside of Luke Young on the edge of the Charlton area, pulled the ball back, and saw Gianfranco Zola arrive late in the box to steer the ball beyond Dean Kiely and into the back of the net. In an instant, the size of the challenge facing the Addicks had increased considerably. They may have been a goal to the good, but with ten men on a scorching afternoon, it was going to be a long, hard second half.

    Johansson was dropped back to play on the right side of midfield, while Graham Stuart, who had been at his sniping, experienced best was moved onto the left flank. Euell operated alone at the front, as his side looked for him to provide the endless and selfless running he has so often demonstrated in support of their cause. Chris Bart Williams was in for the injured Scott Parker, yet never looked anything remotely like a second choice. By the time he was replaced by Radostin Kishishev just before the hour marked ticked by, he had contested every ball anywhere near him, and just about run himself into the ground. All over the place, there were red shirts and red faces, as the Addicks began to dig really deep.

    Chelsea's need to try and exert themselves on the game was highlighted when, with just under half an hour remaining, they replaced the ineffectual Emmanuel Petit with the only very recently match fit Eidur Gudjohnsen. Playing against ten men, and with three strikers, the odds of at the very least an equaliser must have been stacking up in their favour.

    As the half wore on, more and more of the play centre around the edge of the Charlton area, as the visitors probed and sought a way through to the goal they needed. It was Gudjohnsen who was first to discover how badly the Addicks were prepared to fight their corner, as he dallied over the ball and collected a huge challenge from Stuart for his pains. Not thought of as the most physical player in the world, Stuart has, as they say, been around the block a few times. By the time he'd picked himself up and checked where he was, Gudjohnsen was doubtless in a position to agree.

    With a quarter of an hour to go, Claudio Ranieri played his last hand, introducing Carlton Cole and Jesper Gronkjaer in place of Hasselbaink and Zola. As his side surged forwards, Johansson demonstrated a new-found love for tackling, threatening to introduce Gronkjaer to the game by cutting him in half. It was definitely one of those sort of afternoons.

    When the Finn left the pitch, ten minutes from time, he, like Bart Williams before him, was running on jelly legs. Sent into the right sided role Johansson had vacated, it was clear he was to be the outlet valve for a defence running almost on empty. Charlton had taken the physical side of the contest to Chelsea all afternoon, and won it comprehensively, but their legs were finally failing them.

    Just five minutes remained when Cole cut back to create a shooting opportunity for himself, and drove the ball low past Kiely's desperate drive, to level matters to the evident delight of the away fans, wherever they were sitting. The Addicks surged forwards for one last throw of the dice, only to see Matt Svensson, who had replaced the exhausted Euell, see his header from Lisbie's fine cross palmed away by Cudicini.

    It seemed that the day would end with honours deservedly even, after a magnificent rearguard action from the ten men of Charlton, but there was to be a cruel twist in the tail. As the ball bobbled about on the edge of the Charlton area, a deflection carried it into the path of Frank Lampard, lurking just 15 yards in front of goal. His strike was as good as it needed to be, and Kiely could do nothing to stop its progress into the back of the net.

    It was even crueler than we had feared it was going to be. The Chelsea players walked off at the end hugging each other, partly in celebration, partly in disbelief. The Charlton players trudged off equally disbelieving, but with their spirits at the opposite end of the scale.

    Sometimes, football is a desperately unfair game.
  2. kevruth

    kevruth Member

    May 30, 2001
    Perrysburg, Ohio, US
    It was so depressing having to listen to that game. They were so unlucky. The sending off, then the equalizer, then Svensson almost beating Cudicini and then that damn goal by Lampard. I really thought they would get the three points when Ranieri pulled Zola. Zola controlled that game. They really held Hasselbaink in place.

    Now what will Ranieri do now with the latest Cole....Carlton Cole. This guy was on fire during preseason. Had to be the Man of the Match.

    I sure hope they can turn it around at the Reebok this week.

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