Millwall 3 (O'Brien 40, Morison 42,60) Charlton 1 (Ajose 48).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Den.
It's like picking at an open wound to rehash Charlton's almost comical record against Millwall or to mention again that they haven't beaten their "rivals" since the 20th century. It's enough to say that this latest meek capitulation earned them more of the amused contempt in which they are held around SE 16. "You'll never beat the Millwall" the fumbling visitors were reminded and rarely have truer words been sneered. Charlton have given this so-called local derby a bad name. And that name is walkover.
Bad news awaited the Addicks when they arrived at The Den. Powerful centre back Byron Webster had returned from a three-game absence, not to warm the bench but typically among the starters as befits a warrior. Webster won everything in the air and efficiently handled Josh Magennis. But it was even more disquieting to discover that old nemesis Steve Morison had clearly targetted this game for a full comeback following a two-month injury lay-off. Forty five useful minutes as a substitute in a losing cause at Scunthorpe had prepared him to exorcise his frustration on old victims.
Morison relishes his role as an old fashioned centre forward, though there's more to his game than mere hustle and bustle. His clever movement and cool finishing proved as much, the second of his two goals being ideally timed to quash the briefly noisy neighbours' second half revival.
For over 40 minutes, Charlton flattered to deceive and approached the interval in promising shape. They had been spared an early setback when Lee Gregory pounced on a slip by Patrick Bauer but messed up the routine pass which would have set up O'Brien for a simple tap-in. They lived dangerously again as Morison volleyed Gregory's astute chip into the sidenet but had coped well until a familiar collapse destroyed them shortly before the interval.
Tight to the right touchline and hemmed in by two opponents, right back Shaun Cummings managed a speculative cross to the far post where an unmarked O'Brien, with only Gregory as company, headed simply past Dillon Phillips. Two minutes later, Shaun Williams produced a better delivery, again from the right, which Morison astutely read and expertly
nodded volleyed home.
A fly on the wall of Charlton's half-time dressing room would probably have bolted for cover as a clearly vexed Karl Robinson tore into his submissive troops. Whatever spleen he vented worked at least temporarily because the Addicks re-emerged in brisk, businesslike fashion. Within three minutes their arrears had been reduced and they were back in the game.
An accurate throw from Phillips found Andrew Crofts, a combative exception to the timidity around him, who picked out Magennis in front of him. The burly striker's pass split the defence and played in Ademola Lookman, who was tempted to shoot but instead set up a better chance for Nicky Ajose. Taking a touch to compose himself, Ajose finished competently past Jordan Archer. Game on then but not for long.
The Lions were briefly inconvenienced and an emergency clearance by Webster was required when Lookman's cross was headed dangerously back from the far post by Adam Chicksen. They soon re-asserted themselves, however, with Morison's second strike on the hour putting the outcome beyond Charlton's feeble reach
An incisive move developed through O'Brien to overlapping right back Tony Craig then inside to Fred Onyedinma, whose square pass picked out Morison near the penalty spot. Turning sharply, the veteran marksman beat Phillips' right hand with a crisp drive into the bottom left corner. Hardly a defensive muscle had so much as twitched during the entire process.
Phillips' fine one-on-one save denied Onyedinma later but the damage had been done, another miserable chapter written in the embarrassingly one-sided history of this fixture. Yet again, Charlton talked it while Millwall walked it. The "bitter enemies" do it again at The Valley in three weeks time, where cockeyed optimists will touchingly build a case for a home win while flint-eyed realists meet the truth head-on. All Charlton can rely on these days is the law of averages. And by the law of averages they're already long overdue to beat Millwall again. So that's about as reliable as a plasticine crutch.
Millwall: Archer, Cummings, Hutchinson, Webster, Craig, Onyedinma (Butcher 90), Williams, Thompson, O'Brien (Worrall 88), Gregory (Ferguson 75), Morison. Not used: King, Romeo, Abdou, Smith.
Charlton: Phillips, Konsa, Texeira, Bauer, Fox, Lookman, Crofts, Jackson (Ahearne-Grant 86), Chicksen (Botaka 70), Ajose, Magennis. Not used: Mitov, Johnson, Ulvestad, Aribo. Booked: Texeira.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh. Att: 14,395 (2,186 visiting).
Chaps, mea culpa, but something crept into the Millwall report which gives me chills of horror. Steve Morison (bad cess to him as My Mum would say) of course volleyed not nodded his first goal home. Sorry about that, I dozed off at the keyboard and upon coming to, suffered a bout of word association and wrongly used "nodded."
I've been given lines to be handed in before Christmas. Speaking of which, Merry Christmas to one and all. And just let me at Millwall next month. We'll see who's laughing then. I've been practising a guffaw for 21 years and I'm running out of time. Kev.