Charlton Athletic (a) Premiership
39mins After some neat passing in midfield Olivier Bernard was sent down the left and whipped in a superb cross to the near post, where Craig Bellamy stooped to head into the top corner. 1-0
Half time: Charlton Athletic 0 Newcastle 1
51mins A bouncing
ball over the top beat Andy O'Brien allowing Kevin Lisbie to flick the ball over
O'Brien, control and then round Shay Given. Just as he was about to shoot,
Stephen Carr came
across and nipped the ball off his toes.
Full time: Charlton Athletic 1 Newcastle 1
Graeme Souness said:
"I think a draw is a fair result, we had our chance but it's a hard place to come.
"We've come back on the back of international matches and we've shown grit and determination.
"You have to compete well and we did that today. You hope to win every game so maybe I'm a little disappointed.
"We introduced Laurent (Robert), he wasn't playing because we have to be harder to play against away from home.
"We looked threatening at first but you have to be hard to play against and when Laurent came on they (Charlton) could have won."
About Craig Bellamy's reaction to being substituted (TV pictures clearly showed Bellamy muttering, "f***in' pr**k" to himself as he walked off:
"I did not see it but I can understand players not being happy. I will look at it and ask him if it was directed at me and I will let you know what happens.
"If you are a top player, what comes hand in hand with that is a big ego and you have to be prepared to be substituted if a manager feels the situation is right.
"That is what I am paid for, making decisions, and if you get too many wrong you are looking for another job. That is the price on my ticket.
"We have a squad of 17 or 18 top players and that is the way it has to be - it is not any different at Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea.
"It is a balancing act for the manager.
"Psychologically he (Bellamy) is not going to be in great condition, physically he is not going to be at his best, so I think it was a common sense thing to do."
(Bellamy had played two games for Wales and lost them
both in the week before the game).
Back to the action then after an international
break that gave us a breather before a run of 17 games in 11 weeks that takes us
through to the end of the year.
Add to that a succession of reserve displays that underline the paucity of talent developing and the continued underachievement of Chopra at lowly Barnsley and by the time the yuletide decorations go back in the loft, it's a fair bet that there'll be some first footers making their bow on the training ground - and the quayside.
The scramble for the black and white lifeboats is now underway and if nothing else it's pleasing to see that Jenas continues to show encouraging signs he's getting back to somewhere near the level of play that made his purchase look so astute.
Again though we're in a dangerous spot with
him, now that he's put in an adequate performance for Sven and as a consequence
we've had a week of chin-stroking newspaper articles about his emergence as a
midfield force - basically the same twaddle as has appeared countless times
before, but with the names Cole, Dyer, Hargreaves or whoever crossed out and
replaced by JJ.
Certainly from what we've seen this season, at almost two years his junior, Milner looks to have more about him and a greater chance of breaking through to the next level domestically and internationally than the former Ipswich player and England U21 counterpart.
A better side than Charlton may have punished us more, but with the ghosts of Carl Leaburn and Mark Bright living on in the less-than-agile front pair of Bartlett and Lisbie, we just about got away with our slackness.
In fairness though, Butt did improve as
temperatures rose after the break and dropped in a couple of trademark turns to
get out of danger in a manner reminiscent of Robert Lee, once of Charlton and
Newcastle and back at his old stamping ground of the Valley for this match as a
Game triers, O'Brien and Elliott may be, and in
this game as ever they gave a good account of themselves. But like those in the
reserves at present (Bramble, Hughes, Johnsen) put them against a better level
of opposition and the fissures appear.
As to the question whether this was one point
won or two lost, taking into account Charlton's record (before today one goal
conceded in four home games) it can be viewed in the positive if one takes the
view that we're a team in transition - Souness trying to change attitudes among
the current players, before he gets the chance to bring in his own folk as he
has off the field.
A look at the fixture list though for the rest of the year sees some real tests lined up against us. By January he will know a lot more about his squad and players and supporters alike will be more aware of what the man in charge can do for us.