Burton Albion 0 Charlton 1 (Purrington 28')
Kevin Nolan reports from a tetchy Pirelli Stadium.
Organised, determined and, where necessary, hardnosed, Charlton continued their renaissance under the twin-stewardship of Johnnie Jackson and Jason Euell with this fractious, occasionally violent victory over feisty Burton Albion in balmy South Staffordshire.
The dynamic duo were in animated form on the sidelines, finding time for sporadic verbal fisticuffs with Albion boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, which threatened to boil over from time to time. An industrial challenge by Kane Hemmings on Jason Pearce, from which the Brewers' striker walked away without censure, was the catalyst for one heated difference of opinion. Having already been booked for simulation in seeking a penalty from referee Trevor Kettle, Hemmings should have seen red, a point Jackson was at pains to make to JFH in the close quarters of the Pirelli Stadium's poorly designed coaching areas.
Kettle, never the most popular official in S.E.7, had already shown red cards to Jayden Stockley and ex-Addick Deji Oshilaja after an 18th minute flashpoint, which was not without its comical side. As an Elliot Lee corner was cleared upfield, all eyes naturally followed the ball; all eyes, that is, except those belonging to Stockley and Oshilaja, who were detained by their own mano-a-mano conflict in Burton's penalty area. While they rolled in the dirt, Kettle made a U-turn and led the caravan back to get to the bottom of things. Holding each by an ear, he asserted his authority.
Kettle: "What's all this? You'd better have a good explanation or you're both for the high jump!"
Stockley: "He started it"
Oshilaja: "No, I didn't, he did! And he carried on after I said fainlights!"
Kettle: "That's enough. Both of you off. And see me in my office before you leave the stadium. You haven't heard the
last of this. You've let your clubs down. You've let your managers down. But most of all, you've let yourselves down."
Never one to sit on a fence, except for that one time when he accidentally scored for Charlton against Chelsea at
Stamford Bridge, Hasselbaink assured us that "Kane tells me the keeper (Craig McGillivray) caught him and he didn't dive. And Deji says Stockley hit him but he didn't retaliate. So that's both situations cleared up. I trust my players. Why would they lie?" Lovely bloke, Jimmy. Always looks for the good in people.
Jackson was more concerned with saluting his players for the battling qualities they displayed in making sure that Ben Purrington's goal, just before the half hour mark, was enough to seal Charlton's third win on the road. "It was a great win, obviously the nature of it," he purred, " I thought we limited them to very few chances. I didn't feel comfortable but it was probably quite comfortable. It doesn't feel that way when you're hanging on and there's 10 minutes to go but I'm really enjoying it... I'm loving it!"
He'll be loving it without the suspended Stockley for three league games; the impressive Akin Famewo will also miss the crucial home game with Plymouth Argyle next Saturday after picking up his fifth booking for time-wasting. Kettle was just as busy as he left the field at half-time. Having booked substitute Harry Arter for a surreptitious, probably salty aside, he was also on the end of a few pithy words from Ben Watson, which he might well have missed. Sometimes it's not so much what you say as the way you say it.
In a game of few chances, the one converted by Purrington was crucial. It was probably conceived at Sparrows Lane and
was based on a short corner routine involving Lee and the excellent Diallang Jaiyesimi. Receiving Lee's right wing
flagkick, Jaiyesimi stood up a precise cross, which Famewo helped on and Purrington glanced inside the far post. Don't you just love it when a plan works out? Because in football it so rarely does.
As this crotchety game wore on, the value of Purrington's goal became obvious. Defences were on top in a bitter war of attrition, with the Addicks' best moment the scorer's second half cross-cum-shot which Ben Garratt pawed to safety the closest they came to doubling their lead. For the Brewers, Joe Powell's irresistible surge into the penalty area set up a ferocious drive, which McGillivray bravely parried at his near post. There was little else of note though Hasselbaink disagreed.
"If you look at it, they didn't give us too many problems and the second half was all us," remarked the blink-and-you-missed-it former Addick. His side, it's true, edged the second period, but McGillivray was conspicuously underworked. The Powell save and the fielding of a few crosses was the extent of his involvement.
Not that Charlton were exactly dynamic. Their performance was more dogged than dashing, less daring than disciplined. Not one player let the side down, with doughty warrior Pearce, Famewo, Lee and the coolly competent Sean Clare worthy of special mention. With Stockley and Famewo unavailable for the crunch visit of Plymouth, Jackson's juggling of personnel will be sorely tested by suspensions and injuries. They've already given this league more than a head start. Catch-up starts now. So buckle up.
Burton: Garratt, Borthwick-Jackson (Blake-Tracy 15), Oshilaja, Powell, Hemmings, Akins (Chapman 73), O'Connor, Shaughnessy, Amadi-Holloway, Leak, Mancienne (Lakin 68). Not used: Balcombe, Patrick, Gilligan, Maddox.
Charlton: McGillivray, Clare, Purrington, Famewo, Pearce, Jaiyesimi (Elewere 83), Gilbey, Lee, Dobson, Stockley, Davison (Blackett-Taylor 68). Not used: Henderson, Morgan, Kirk, Watson.
Referee: Trevor Kettle. Att: 3,555.