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Fulham pacy and dynamic - The Guardian

last updated Monday 10th September 2001, 7:45 AM
Fulham may well have an open-ended account at Harrods but Charlton yesterday showed the virtues of buying at the corner shop.
Despite being outclassed for much of the first half, Alan Curbishley's bargain-basement side, further challenged by a seven-man injury list, rolled up their sleeves after the break and made up with toil and sweat what they lacked in finer qualities. In the end they were happy to pocket a point, whereas Jean Tigana declared himself "disappointed" that all Fulham's possession did not produce more goals.

His new record £11.5m signing Steve Marlet was prevented from making his debut by injury and his arrival - expected next weekend against Arsenal - cannot come too soon. Despite spending £32m on new players this summer Fulham have managed only one victory in four games and more fine-tuning is required.

Sunday September 9, 2001
Charlton (1) 1 - 1 (1) Fulham  
Melville (34) og   Boa Morte (37)

Both these clubs had emerged from different threats to their very existence to meet in the top flight for the first time since the 1951-52 season. But at half-time Charlton's record of never having lost to Fulham in the highest division was decidely under threat.

Fulham's passing and movement punched hole after hole in the Charlton defence and it took Curbishley just 26 minutes to change from a makeshift 3-5-2 back to the tried and trusted 4-4-2. When Fulham got the ball they attacked with the dynamic and pacy fluidity that has beome their trademark, and in defence closed Charlton down with ease. Their best early chance fell to Louis Saha, who prodded Edwin van der Sar's long kick just wide, the striker then appealingin vain for a penalty after Dean Kiely's belated challenge.

But returning to 4-4-2 did wonders for Charlton and just past the half-hour they took a surprise lead. Chris Powell fired in a cross from the left, Sean Bartlett headed the ball back at the far post and the defender Andy Melville diverted the ball into his own net.

Unimpressed by Charlton's affrontery, Fulham equalised four minutes later. Kiely had already saved well from Sylvain Legwinski when the dashing player with the dashing name was thwarted again by the Charlton goalkeeper. However, Kiely watched helplesly as the ball fell to Louis Boa Morte, who drilled the rebound into the net through a crowd of defenders.

Fulham were now in full sail. Saha and the defender Steve Finnan both went close before Kiely saved a certain second Fulham goal, blocking again from Legwinksi, then flicking away the loose ball just as Boa Morte shaped to bulge the net.

Half-time gave Charlton a chance to regroup and with a Curbishley ear-bashing ringing in their ears, they worked their way back into the game.

But it was Fulham who still created the chances. Boa Morte and the substitute Steed Malbranque went close and Sean Davis was only denied a late winner by Paul Konchesky's saving tackle.

Afterwards Tigana said that despite his lavish spending, the priority this season is to stay in the Premiership. The same goes for Charlton, but with so many injuries - three long term - they are in danger of losing ground before the lame return.

Man of the match: Sylvain Legwinski (Fulham)

Charlton Athletic
Kiely; Brown, Fish, Powell, Todd, Young; Parker (Konchesky), Stuart; Bartlett (Salako), Euell, Lisbie (Robinson).

Van der Sar; Brevett, Finnan, Melville, Symons; Clark (Malbranque), Collins, Davis, Legwinski; Boa Morte, Saha (Hayles).

  Referee: J. T. Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)

Attendance: 20,451

Charlton Athletic:  Brown (40) Bartlett (74)
Fulham:  None

Sent off

Charlton Athletic: 22 Fulham: 12
Charlton Athletic: 0 Fulham: 2
Goal attempts
Charlton Athletic: 7 Fulham: 16
On target
Charlton Athletic: 4 Fulham: 5
Hit woodwork
Charlton Athletic: 0 Fulham: 0
Charlton Athletic: 5 Fulham: 6
Source The Guardian by Martin Thorpe
Since 1998
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