October 27 2004
A weakened Palace side cruise through to the fourth round of the Carling Cup, after beating Charlton Athletic 2-1.
This was my first trip to Charlton and despite us winning, I can wait again until May.
What a dump. This is supposed to be a "progressive" Premiership side. Trying to get in was like sheep being carted off to the slaughterhouse, one set of turnstiles! If it was not bad enough, when you were inside and trying to get past the cordon of Stewards and the 2 lines of police, you are welcomed with the sight of outdoor toilets. Never mind Pre-Premiership, this was like Victorian London, I half expected to see roasted Chestnut sellers and the Bow Street Runners, on my way into the Jimmy Seed Stand.
Which is to be honest, rubbish. Obscured by the view of a post, the stand reminds me of when Spurs got rid of the Shelf and had the Stand with one tier, all open and seemingly out of place. Thankfully there was a roof, but as away ends go, it was quite poor.
At least inside it looks like a nice little stadium. But I am still unsure why to this day that Charlton hate us so much. It is not as if we have ever done anything to them. Was it our fault they nearly lost their ground? We at least gave them a home. We did take one or two players from them, but they have done the same to us (For this read John Humphrey and Darren Pitcher to Palace, we lost Svennson to them) in recent time. Yet the PA Announcer had to try to "mix it up" by commenting "Welcome to the Valley, for the Carling Cup game between Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palarse". What a joke. At least our own Rob Fox shows some respect for the opposing side.
Still the travelling faithful made themselves heard last night and what a credit we were to the club. Charlton were dead silent throughout the game and only came to life when they scored. We make more noise at home and for all the criticism that we heap on ourselves, Charlton should be ashamed of their poor showing in the stands last night.
On to the game itself and when the team ran out, you could be forgiven to think that Dowie was not taking this game seriously. But clearly, keeping players out of the first team has made them hungry to impress and boy did they do that last night.
We welcomed Julian Speroni back in goal and the back four of Butterfield (Welcome back Danny), Borrowdale with Sarondo and Hudson in the centre was virtually all new. Butts has been out all season, while Hudson and Speroni have not played in weeks. Sarondo has at least made some sub appearances and Borrowdale was making his first start. Midfield saw Tom Soares make a welcome return after his heroics in the last round and Ben Watson and Shaun Derry made up the midfield with Mikeal Leigertwood also making his bow this season.Up front saw the welcome return of Sandor Torghelle after a long injury (thanks again Lothar Matthaus) and Freedman.
However the Dowie plan did not look like going to plan as we started abysmally and went behind in four minutes, Danny Murphy planting the ball onto the head of Hermann Hreidarsson (another former player) and we were 1-0 down. It was not too surprising, as with 10 changes from the side that beat West Brom, it was going to take some time before the team found its rhythm.
But find it we did and with Soares and Watson causing all sorts of creative havoc in midfield, Charlton faded as the first half went on. Murphy looked really out of sorts and going forward, Lisbie looked lightweight and never posed a real threat. Biggest disappointment from the home sides point of view would have been Francis Jeffers, who looks an atrocious buy at £2 Million plus. Downcast, little effort and no energy from the former Everton man meant that Charlton did not really put us under too much pressure and Sarondo and Hudson settled down more as the game went on.
It was only a matter of time before we managed to get an equaliser and when it did come, it was no surprise. Watson fed Soares whose ball was just in too far for Sandor Torghelle to reach but as Charlton failed to clear, the ball came to Dougie Freedman and with one swift touch, it was in the top left hand corner. 41 minutes and 1 all.
If that wasn't enough, it took us 10 minutes to take the lead and when it came, no-one deserved it more than Sandor Torghelle. After a decent debut at Norwich, then getting injured before showing a half decent display against Hartlepool, it was only a matter of time before we saw the real Torghelle play and he was up for it right from the start, snapping at players heels and with his intricate passing (which I might add, usually found a Palace player as well). He may need to calm down on some of those rash challenges, but I wouldn't want him to lose that agression. His turn and shot on 52 minutes, thumped the back of the net and seeing the broad smile on his face coupled with the the high fives to the whole bench, brought the away end down. Lets hope that this leads to big things for the Hungarian. Pace he may not have, but skill and heart he has in abundance. However within 15 minutes he had been sent off for "simulation". Having seen it again on TV, he did call it right. Let's hope that Sandor learns from the experience.
Fact is that we were not too troubled for the most part of the second half, Charlton threw on players such as Jason Euell to try to get them going, but it failed miserably. Only for some brief moments were there scares, from 2 corners Speroni tipped one over and made a outstanding parry from Euell. But it was not to be. Even right at the end, it was not going to be their day as they had a virtually open goal in injury time. We had to be thankful that it was Francis Jeffers and not anyone else as the rat-faced pikey stuck it over when it would have been easier to score.
So we won, with 10 men and a reserve team against a Premiership first team. The difference? We wanted it more. Those players who graced the first team last season that have been denied a starting berth did a good job last night, Butterfield started a little shaky but grew in confidence, as did Hudson. Soares ran himself into the ground and Borrowdale was more of a midfielder than a defender, getting over a steady stream of crosses. Watson was his usual self, spraying passes around with consummate ease. Men of the match though had to be Speroni and Torghelle, as they both have gotten over their earlier troublesome form and are acclimatising perfectly. Both still have some way to go,given the sending off for Sandor, but given the reception at the end of the game by Kiraly for Speroni, with him virtually carrying him off the pitch on his shoulders, shows the togetherness that there is at the club at the moment. We have never had it so good.
Not even the refereee Rob Styles, who was basically wearing a Charlton shirt under his black one, could dampen the already rain sodden evening. 10 men, reserve team and now we are off to Man United in November
Carling Cup - we're having a laugh!
Chalrton Athletic 1
Crystal Palace 2
Freedman 41, Torghelle 54
Torghelle Sent off 70
Charlton Athletic: Kiely, Young, Fortune, Perry, Hreidarsson, Stuart, Holland, Murphy, Thomas, Lisbei, Jeffers.
Subs: Hughes, Andersen, El Karkouri, Johansson, Euell.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Butterfield, Borrowdale, Sorrondo, Hudson, Soares, Derry, Watson, Leigertwood, Freedman, Torghelle.
Subs: Kiraly, Powell, Routledge, Kaviedes, Danze.
Referee: R. Styles
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