Charlton 1.v.0 Rovers
5th December 2006
The last time Charlton Athletic beat Blackburn Rovers it was courtesy of a drilled free-kick from their Moroccan centre back Talal El Karkouri. Tonight lightning struck twice on Mark Hughes`s unfortunate men.
Neither side were really value for the win, but Charlton stole the three points with the last kick of the game.
With Charlton still slumped at the bottom of the table and Rovers spirited after Saturday`s win against Fulham, the game began in a slow fashion. Rovers looked assured on the ball and comfortable to absorb any attacks from the home side, operating effectively on the break early on.
The first chance of note fell to Rovers` left winger Morten Gamst Pedersen as he rose admirably at the back post from Brett Emerton`s searching cross. His powerful header only disturbed the side netting but it served as a demonstration of what Rovers could do on the break.
With Charlton epitomising all the signs of a club at the bottom of the table Rovers looked the more accomplished side, zipping the ball around using the full length of the pitch.
Charlton had to be content with long distance efforts as the half really began to warm up. A couple of drives from just outside the area by Bryan Hughes lifted the mood of the home fans who stirred to give their heroes a verbal lift.
The anticipation of the fans seeped into the Charlton players who looked to stretch the Rovers defence with a number of measured balls through the middle aiming to exploit the pace of Darren Bent. Every time he was thwarted by the energetic giant, Brad Friedel. Even at the tender age of 35 years old, the American was always first to the ball.
Charlton began to rally and grew in stature as the half wore on. Lloyd Sam, brought in as one of a number of changes made by Les Reed as he went in pursuit of his first win as Charlton boss, was causing the Rovers defence problems and could have had a penalty in the 26th minute.
Lucas Neill was clumsy in the challenge but referee, Chris Foy, didn`t see the tangle between the two players worthy of a penalty. Sam should have given Charlton the lead soon after but he blazed over when well placed.
The final real chance of the half fell to Shabani Nonda but Scott Carson did well to deny him, diving bravely at the feet of the Dr Congo International, following an expert ball across the goal by Gamst.
Hughes, clearly unhappy with his side`s first half showing, made a double substitution at half time. Gamst, once again failing to impress and the innocuous David Bentley were replaced by Paul Gallagher and Tugay respectively.
The second half began as the first had been dictated, with Charlton in the ascendancy.
But for the heroics of Brad Friedel, Rovers would have been beaten more comfortably. He should great awareness on more than one occasion and produced some excellent stops through out the half.
Herman Hreidarsson failed to convert a free header from the impressive Andy Reid. Reid had been toying with the Rovers defence all night providing Charlton with a much needed cutting edge, particularly from set-plays.
He picked out Hreidarsson from a corner but the experienced Icelandic international got his header horribly wrong and Friedel was untroubled.
As the clock wound down, so did Rovers potency. It had been found wanting through out the night but the players seemed content to contain Charlton and play out the draw.
Mission was almost accomplished but for the explosive darting run from Darren Bent. His pace caught Stephane Henchoz out and the Swiss international was forced to hack the eight-goal hitman down. The resultant free-kick took the game way beyond the allocated added time and was to be the last kick of the match.
Up stepped the Moroccan centre-back to send the home support into euphoric cheers as his curling 25-yard strike bulged the back of the net.
It was another disappointing display from Rovers who need to start showing some cutting edge in front of goal and consistency in performances
His awareness, experience and undoubted quality almost earned Rovers a point.