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Fulham stroll past Charlton

last updated Monday 09th January 2012, 12:48 PM

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Daily Telegraph

Fulham (1) 4 Charlton (0) 0

The FA Cup might be an English institution, but it was an American who dominated this London derby third round tie. Clint Dempsey had the afternoon of his Fulham career, hitting a hat-trick as his side strolled past the League One leaders, winning 4-0.

He started early, the Yank. Only eight minutes had gone when the former Addick Danny Murphy, roundly booed by the visiting fans apparently enraged by his four years of dedicated service at the Valley, hit a speculative shot at the Charlton goal.

It took a huge deflection off a defender, and, while the visiting back line stood admiring its arc, Dempsey stepped in unchallenged to round John Sullivan and score.

It was symptomatic of the game's pattern: Fulham had the possession, the touch, the control; Charlton chased and harried and gave their all. But, a ten minute flourish at the start of the second half notwithstanding, fell visibly short.

The problem for the visitors is that, in League One, few opponents have the touch of Dempsey or Mousa Dembele or Kerim Frei. Attacking down Fulham's left, the right footed Frei in particular twisted Chris Solly and Danny Green to distraction.

And Dempsey appeared able to slip through their retreating midfield at will. His second goal, scored after drifting on to a one two with Ruiz, gave vivid demonstration of his slippery elusiveness. His third came from a penalty after Frei had been upended. While Damien Duff came off the bench to apply the coup de grace.

Charlton did their best. Bradley Pritchard in midfield was game. And Bradley Wright Phillips occasionally allowed the visiting fans to sing their loud claim that he is better than brother Shaun.

But, early in the second half, when he sprang on to Pritchard's lovely chip, he put his team's best chance of the afternoon into Stockdale's legs. That is the difference between the top and the third tier: margins.

Still, the Charlton fans were not disillusioned. "The FA Cup is a laugh, top of the league and going up" they sang. At Fulham, in contrast to many a Premier League rival, the Cup represents something substantially more than a giggle: and they move on to the next round in pursuit of it.

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