Charlton 2 (Morrison 31, Green 90) Brentford 0
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
They call it "winning ugly" and Charlton have duly obliged once or twice this season when things weren't exactly going their way. They deserved to beat Brentford despite Bees' manager Uwe Rosler's sour grapes complaint that they had "got away with it" and his even more mystifying claim that the visitors had "dominated the game."
Rosler is hardly a barrel of laughs at the best of times but he had the sliver of a point. Just 48 hours after suffering their second league loss, the Addicks were far from on-song but they also say that "if you can win when you don't play well", you've got the makings of a title-winning side. And being able to bounce back from adversity is another encouraging quality.
Charlton boss Chris Powell allowed himself a rueful grin when apprised of Rosler's comments and dismissed them with the mischievous aside that "I thought we won." He would be more than happy, he allowed, to display panache and flair every week but football just doesn't work that way. Sometimes you have to wade into muck and nettles to find treasure. You do what's necessary.
Buoyed by their remarkable achievement in clawing back a 3-goal deficit to snatch an added time point from promotion chasing MK Dons on New Years Eve, Brentford began brightly, forcing four corners in the opening exchanges. Significantly, however, despite their territorial superiority, Ben Hamer was underworked in the home goal. The same claim could be made at the final whistle and that's an issue Rosler might profitably address, in more retrospective moments after his spleen has been vented on the opposition.
For half an hour, Charlton struggled to find their feet. Full debutant Bradley Pritchard was important in maintaining order, while Carl Cort filled in responsibly for minor injury victim Matt Taylor but it was uphill most of the way. Then the Addicks scored.
Green's long throw instigated the chaos that descended on Brentford's penalty area, Danny Hollands added his physical presence and Michael Morrison headed goalwards. With the West Londoners seeking salvation from an un-coperative linesman, Morrison reached the bouncing ball as keeper Richard Lee dithered and nodded it neatly into his unguarded net. Defensive commitment was non-existent.
Bucked up by their success, Charlton almost undid the good work when Cort's poor header fell to Niall McGinn, who volleyed sharply over the bar. At the other end, Cort should have done better than glance another of Green's long throws wide of a post.
A forgettable game improved after the break. The second half kicked off with a comical mix-up between Lee and Marcel Eger, which the keeper resolved with an emergency fly-kick; it continued with Lee alertly leaving his line to foil Bradley Wright-Phillips and riding his luck as Green failed to bundle in the rebound from an acute angle.
Talismanic skipper Johnnie Jackson was welcomed back on New Years Eve, his understated influence having been missed during his absence. He came within inches of adding to his seven league goals but headed against the right post, following Green's inswinging corner.
Brentford's supposed "domination" was in tatters by now and the Addicks took it to them. The hardworking Yann Kermorgant ran through a ballwatching defence but headed Hamer's long free kick wide, then Morrison wasted a better chance by heading Green's corner off target.
A needless foul by Cort on substitute Gary Alexander gave the Bees their best chance of equality. Sam Saunders blasted the 25-yard free kick into Charlton's wall, with Rosler leading his men in impassioned pleas that a red-clad arm had effected the block. Saunders tried his luck again, this time from the 18-yard line, where over-eager debutant Leon Clarke had chopped down dangerous playmaker Jonathan Douglas, but shot tamely over the bar.
Under no particular pressure but keenly aware that a one-goal lead left them vulnerable, the league leaders sensibly administered a last minute coup-de-grace through the mercurial Green. Having broken his Charlton duck in his previous appearance, the stylish winger doubled his tally by fastening on to a long ball, using Kermorgant as a decoy before cleverly sidestepping Lee and quietly rolling the ball over the line. Charlton had confirmed their first league double of the campaign, subject to Rosler's re-count, of course.
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Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Morrison, Cort, Wiggins, Green (Hughes 90), Hollands, Pritchard, Jackson (Wagstaff 76), Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips (Clarke 76). Not used: Sullivan, Taylor.
Brentford: Lee, Diagouraga, Eger, Legge, Woodman, McGinn, Douglas, Bean (Alexander 62), Weston (Saunders 71), Bennett (Dean 62), Donaldson. Not used: Moore, Forrester.
Referee: G. Scott. Attendance: 17,506.