is something about Charlton Athletic when they play at Stevenage Borough
against Spurs reserves. Last season, the fog descended and
restricted the view so much that it was difficult to see the far side of
the pitch and this season, the rain that dropped from the sky all day left
the pitch a skiddy surface that made playing difficult. It wasn't
helped by the over officious refereeing that formed a major part of the
first Charlton attack showed the effect the rain had on the pitch, when
the ball sped off the turf and left Rob Burch's attempted grasp looking
very loose with the ball flying straight through both arms in the fourth
minute. Spurs were using the pace on the grass to their
benefit. Galbraith won a header, that flicked through to Lee Barnard
in midfield. His pas out to the left took out the right back and
Ricketts cut inside to hit a shot that brought a save from the goalie.
threatened from set-pieces, but generally O'Donoghue and Henry were tight
at the back. A free-kick almost lead to a goal in the 14th minute,
as Henry stooped to head clear and almost diverted the ball inside Burch's
far post, but luckily, it flew past the right side of the upright for
Tottenham. A minute later, a cross to the far post from Jonathan
Blondel was a little behind Dean Marney and his header went wide.
Cole made an early entrance, coming on after 17 minutes, in what seemed
like a swap made because Cole had turned up of his own volition (and not
travelling with the rest of the squad), after being held up on the A1(M)
in the road works !! The ref started to take a detrimental grip on
proceedings, with a yellow for Blondel for a foul and then Galbraith for
kicking the ball away. Such decisions and the ref's ability to pull
play up at virtually every given opportunity left manager Clive Allen
exasperated. The fourth official's over-bearing attitude did little
to lighten Clive's mood and we all hoped that the mother of the man in
black on the touchline would come to take him home soon, as he was out way
past his bed-time.
the half hour Marcel McKie had to head a free header from a corner off the
Tottenham goal-line and six minutes after, former Gooner Hughes shot on
receiving a quickly taken free-kick, but Ronnie Henry threw a block in
front of the effort.
truth the half was scrappy and neither side looked settled or happy in the
conditions, even though it had stopped raining now. The assembled
glitterati for this game included Terry Dyson, Pat Jennings, Hans Segers,
Pat Holland, David Kerslake, Michael Stone, Stoke scout Keith Burkinshaw,
Kunle Odetoyinbo, new Spurs boss Alan Curbishley, Luton's Mick Harford,
West Ham boss Alan Pardew and Spurs Ladies Under-11 captain ZoŽ Jackson.
second half produced slightly less action than the first period and an
early block by Henry again, as Cole, on loan from Chelsea, drew his foot
back to shoot stopped an early breakthrough after the interval. The
official was warming to his task with yellow cards produced for Marney for
a foul and then Turner for Charlton after bringing down O'Hara in the 75th
minute as he ran through. Jamie was adding a bit of variety to the
Spurs play, as he was willing to commit Athletic's players and from the
free-kick Marney curled the ball just wide.
sides were lacking the final ball into the box, but one good cross found
Varney in the area. His neat turn produced a fierce shot that Burch
did well to beat out, but unluckily for him, it flew up in the air and
Long nodded the ball into an unguarded net to give Charlton the lead on 79
minutes, Fortune was yellow carded for bringing down Blondel and the dead
ball was played short to O'Hara who shot wide of the goal.
Ironically, Tottenham's best chance came with two minutes left. A
neat move saw Rohan Ricketts play a ball inside the full back to leave Lee
Barnard in on the keeper, but his flicked effort was blocked and ballooned
up into the air like Burch's save that lead to the away team's goal.
In an almost identical replay of the action, Blondel headed goalwards, but
Fortune threw his massive frame in the way to keep the ball out and that
was the end of any meaningful activity in the goalmouths.
midfield of Ricketts, Blondel, Marney and Hughes were mobile and had a lot
of possession, but failed to make the passes through to the front two
incisive enough, while Barnard and Galbraith battled away without much
success against two huge defenders. O'Donoghue matched up well
against Cole and he and Henry still look to have a good partnership at the
back, while McKie and Foster were solid on the flanks. Burch had
little to do and apart from the early scare, did what he had to do well.
high point of the night was when Charlton were preparing to bring on a
substitute and a huge fat bloke emerged from their bench in a tracksuit
(as it was probably all he could get to fit him). Unfortunately, he
was not one (or more) of their squad for the match !!
truth, if the fog that came down last season had returned tonight, it
would have been welcome, as the match provided poor entertainment and a