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Charlton Athletic 2007

Written by Gareth Allen

Charlton Home 5 Charlton Away 3

It was perfect weather for football, not too hot and slightly overcast, with possibilities of the odd shower.

A rapturous applause greeted the players when they left the tunnel from a modest crowd. Eagerly awaiting this always hard fought contest.

Before play could start, the teams had their normal preliminaries to take care of, such as pre-match team photos and sportsman like handshakes. The home team, led by Simon Webster, who was carrying a knock so was unable to play and the away team, led by the double act of Theo Foley and playing legend Colin Walsh.

It was the away team that kicked us off. It was a nervy start from both sides with the away team just edging it. But it was the home team with the first sighter on goal when Tongue blazed over from a Rae corner in the 4th minute.

Fox was looking lively and this culminated in the first chance for the away team, when on 8 minutes, Fox was set free on the diagonal of the penalty area to shoot straight at the keeper Webb, who saved excellently with his legs.

In the 13th minute Thorpe got his first chance of the game, but only managed to blaze over from 20 yards after being impromptu put in by Dryburgh.

But the crowd didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough to arrive. The resulting goal kick could only find the head of Dryburgh, who headed into the path of Thorpe to beat the defence and fire past a despairing keeper. 1-0

The away team weren’t going to give up and lay down, and on 20 minutes, Miller put wide from 10 yards after being put in by Walsh.

In the 26th minute, an interception by Thorpe, feeds Rae, who shoots straight at the keeper Cooper.

A few minutes later Fox, who had been lively, cut back from the by-line to fizz a shot in from the angle of the box, only to see his shot deflect behind for a corner off the outstretched leg of Allen.

The equaliser wasn’t long in coming, from the resulting corner by Walsh; the ball fell nicely for Fox to fire in from inside the 6-yard box. Webb had no chance. 1-1

Now the impetus was with the away team, on 33 minutes Walsh cleverly fed Fox, who went 1 on 1 with the keeper but just slid his effort wide of the far post.

Five minutes later, Fox fed Miller, who had beat the so far effective offside trap. Miller was clean through but dwindled on the ball allowing Allen to make up 10 yards and make a last ditch tackle inside the penalty area to deny a almost certain goal.

This challenge proved to turn the game on its head. Within 5 minutes the home team were back in front when a through ball from Tongue, was cleverly dummied by Dryburgh and found Thorpe in behind the away defence clean through on goal and he calmly slotted the ball past Cooper. 2-1

And again a few minutes later, a Bailey pass found Rae in acres of space, and although a lucky deflection off Paci, the ball fell to the lethal Thorpe who coolly looped a lob shot, which Cooper could only watch helplessly drop into the back of the net. 3-1

So it was 3-1 at half time. A scoreline, which probably reflected the slight edge, the home team had. Despite the constant probing of Fox, it was Rae’s attacking runs and Thorpe’s clinical finishing which proved decisive.

The teams came out for the second half with the away team needing to get at the home team if they were to have any chance of salvaging something from the game.

The home team kicked us off for the second period, but it was the away team who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and had the first clear chance, when on 49 minutes Alcock turned and the ball fell to Fox whose ferocious shot was well saved by Webb, before realising the linesman’s raised flag.

The home team responded when 4 minutes later Thorpe was through on the edge of the box, and unselfishly squared for Dryburgh to blaze over from 20 yards.

The home team continued to push and on 56 minutes another mazy Rae run and cross was superbly intercepted by Cooper to deny the advancing Dryburgh in the away goal.

Then came the miss of the match when on the hour mark, after an up and under from Stott, Dryburgh managed to slice his shot from 4 yards wide for a throw in.

This encouraged the away team a little and within a minute the deficit was only 1. A long ball out of defence found Williams, and he looped the ball over Tongue to coolly and calmly side-foot past a despairing Webb. 3-2

It was a gruelling midfield battle with both team having plenty of possession, but the home team still made the most clear cut.

On 65 minutes, the home team restored their 2 goal cushion when Bailey pumped a ball over the top and Thorpe made it 4 for the home team and bagged HIS fourth of the afternoon, after beating the offside trap to race clear and go 1 on 1 with Cooper and as if there was any doubt slid a shot past the keeper for 4-2.

Another chance fell for the home team a few minutes later when the unfortunate Dryburgh spurned another chance by heading wide another Rae cross.

Then horror struck in the 72nd minute. After a through ball by Whitelock, Miller stumbled and fell innoxiously and lay forlorn on the turf holding his ankle. After receiving some medical treatment, he unfortunately had to be stretchered off the pitch. He left to a rousing applause.

After seeing their team mate having to leave the park, the away team began their charge to save the game. When on 77 minutes Green fed Dowsett who coolly beat Marsh and chipped the sprawling Webb. 4-3

With the game stretched, the game was finally put to bed when Rae, using his electric pace, beat Paci and went clean through on Cooper’s goal, and clinically capped his man of the match performance by side footing his effort into the far corner. 5-3
,p>So 5-3 it finished. A great game of football, which had everything for the all the spectators watching. A great day and thanks to all at Football Aid.

An update on the unfortunate Darren Miller who was stretched off to later find out in hospital that he had snapped his Achilles. He will be in plaster for 3 months and has been told he cannot play football for a year. So yes, you guessed it his comeback will be at Football Aid 2008.

Team Line Ups

Home: Webb, Garbett, Allen, Marsh, Bailey, Maclure, Rae, Dryburgh, Stott, Thorpe, Tongue, Chapman, Meeham.

Away: Cooper, Holland, Walsh, Paci, Giacomini, Alcock, Williams, Felce, Whitelock, Boylan, Fox, Green, Taylor, Dowsett, Miller.


Home Team Man of the Match: Jim Rae

Away Team Man of the Match: Adrian Alcock

Moment of the Match: Robert Dryburgh’s miss from 4 yards.