Charlton 1 (Jackson 27) Blackburn Rovers 1 (Etuhu 16).
Kevin Nolan reports from The Valley.
Makers of their own misery, Blackburn Rovers, or Venkys (India) Ltd as they are better known, arrived at The Valley one item light in the baggage they've lugged around with them for nearly two years now. Overnight, it was announced, their tormented manager Steve Kean had left the club, his departure as clouded in controversy as had been his wretched time in charge.
Kean's questionable ability as a manager had long since become irrelevant alongside the shameful treatment he regularly received from fans and owners alike. A few hundred of the former were on hand yesterday to gloat over their triumph in ridding themselves of their detested quarry; the latter were keeping a rare silence, with even garrulous spokesman Shebby Singh chickening out of comment. Pity the poor sod who follows Kean into this hen coop.
Buoyed by last week's win at Ipswich, Charlton boss Chris Powell had problems of his own. Already deprived of injured stalwarts Rhoys Wiggins and Yann Kermorgant, he was further rocked by the last minute withdrawal of virus victim Ricardo Fuller. The subsequent second half hamstring tweak sustained by goalscoring captain Johnnie Jackson was almost a straw too many.
Powell solved the loss of Fuller by recalling Danny Hollands and pushing Jackson into that mythical "hole" behind hardgrafting Bradley Wright-Phillips. This tactical newspeak was once clarified by England U-21 manager Stuart Pearce, who explained that "Sturridge played more as a striker, dropping off in behind." It really couldn't be clearer. Do keep up.
After 90 spirited minutes, Powell could take heart in the response he received from his depleted squad. Until his untimely departure, the irrepressible Jackson was in fine form, shaking off the disappointment of a 26th minute missed penalty with the perfect riposte of a 27th minute equaliser. His zesty replacement, Bradley Pritchard, contributed manfully to the second battering, which had Rovers hanging on for a point they hardly deserved.
It was not part of the plan, of course, to concede the visitors an early lead. Apart from a snapshot dragged across goal by a lively Salim Kerkar, the opening exchanges had been perfunctory until a fine diamond-shaped bout of passing, finished off at the sharp end by strikers Jordan Rhodes and Nuno Gomes, carved out the chance hammered past Ben Hamer by muscular midfielder Dickson Etuhu. Claims that the scorer was offside were made more in hope than anger.
Stung by the reverse, the Addicks trailed for less than a quarter hour. Carl Cort had already powered Danny Green's great cross narrowly over the bar when Morten Gamst Pedersen and Scott Dann ganged up illegally to prevent the big centre back from connecting with an accurate free kick from Lawrie Wilson (more encouragement for Powell from this improving newcomer). Local heads dropped as Jackson's firm penalty was saved by Paul Robinson's trailing legs but the taker's chagrin and the keeper's jubilation were almost as quickly reversed.
Rovers' defence had shepherded the rebound out of play on the relative security of the right touchline but Green's long throw instantly put them back in trouble. A scuffed clearance was returned by Hollands' bouncing volley and involuntarily turned past Robinson by an unspecified part of Jackson's physiogomy, or "fizzog" old-timers used to call it.
Green's heartening pick-up in form, meanwhile, was gathering pace. His cutback cross was met by Kerkar but blocked by Gael Givet before the winger's clever footwork created space for an unlucky drive against the right post.
With the bit between their teeth, Charlton overcame the loss of Jackson to dominate the second period. A flurry of chances commenced with Paul Robinson clawing Cort's header off the line, then intensified as Kerkar's free kick was headed goalward by Michael Morrison and deflected to safety off an unwitting Wright-Phillips. Enjoying the run of the ball, Nunes interrupted the one-way traffic to shoot inches too high but the Addicks continued to call the tune, with only Robinson's outstanding goalkeeping standing between them and a vital victory.
Robinson's instinctive reaction to keep out Green's typically long range rocket was special enough. But his athletic added-time save which conjured Wright-Phillips' acrobatic overhead effort over the bar reminded us of a time when he protected England's goal. Odd that his understudy at Ewood Park is one Jake Kean. Bit of an unfortunate surname, Jake. No relation, we take it. But keep a bag packed just in case.
Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Cort, Morrison, Solly, Green, Hollands, Stephens, Kerkar (Evina 90), Jackson (Pritchard 53), Wright-Phillips. Not used: Button, Wagstaff, Cook, Smith, Dervite.
Blackburn: Robinson, Orr, Givet (Hanley 46), Dann, Olsson, Lowe, Murphy, Etuhu, Pedersen, Nuno Gomes (Dunn 73), Rhodes. Not used: Kean, Nunes, Formica, Rochina, Ribeiro. Booked: Murphy, Lowe.
Att: 17,169. Referee: Darren Deadman.
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