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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Charlton overpower mistake-ridden Carlisle Utd

Charlton 4 Carlisle United 0: When Yann Kermorgant strolled onto an early cross to begin Charlton Athletic’s victory canter, Adam Collin’s response was to give James Berrett perhaps the most fearful ear-bashing of the young midfielder’s career.

Carlisle Utd photo
Matty Robson, number 3, gets his second booking

Less than an hour later, 16,000 voices were raiding the eardrums of Carlisle’s goalkeeper, who earned for himself 42 minutes of public derision when he allowed Danny Hollands’ hopeful shot to slither through his legs in the second half.

When the noises abated you could just about make out the sound of a few Carlisle folk, howling at the moon. Berrett’s apparent crime had been to lose track of someone or something in the build-up to Charlton’s first goal, dispatched by their raiding French forward when he jogged from deep to meet Rhoys Wiggins’ centre with his head. Yann-nil against the Cumbrians swiftly became four, by which time many of Berrett’s team-mates had joined him in the howler club.

Such as James Tavernier, for supplying Bradley Wright-Phillips with a simple second goal. And Matty Robson, for drawing a red card before the first half was through. And Collin, for the blunder which was seized upon with relish by most of the home crowd.

Berrett completed the circle of mishap by failing to convert a penalty just after the hour mark. Other, less clumping mistakes were committed by different men in yellow shirts before the game was through. Such was Carlisle’s addiction to error in this big red basin that it would not come as a complete surprise if they turned up at the wrong ground for their next match, or kicked the wrong way.

What follows therefore goes down as an information service, as well as a warning. It’s Sheffield Wednesday, tomorrow night, at Brunton Park. The arrival of the Owls, carrying two talented ex-Blues (Gary Madine and Ben Marshall), ought to focus minds as United cling to the hopeful belief that all their gaffes were removed from the system on one head-thumping afternoon.

“The good thing is that we only lose three points,” observed Abbott, adding that if Berrett had to pick a time to blow a spot-kick, at least he had the decency to save if for Saturday’s 63rd minute, by which time the Blues were so far south of their table-topping hosts they were battling just to finish second.

Gallows humour might be the best means of dealing with such an outcome. And Abbott is surely right to remind us all that a solitary thrashing at the hands of the pacesetters need not leave lasting damage. But that does not mean that the self-inflicted nature of what happened to the Blues should go unrecorded.

Until his recent move to The Valley, Kermorgant was mainly known for taking a disastrous, chipped penalty which ended Leicester’s play-off campaign against Cardiff in 2010. Here the sizeable forward from Brittany was offered two more free shots and put them away without recourse to ill-advised trickery.

It was his opener that was comfortably this game’s defining act. From that point onwards United were gripped by an unusual panic under pressure that didn’t lift until the second-half, when they finally made some regular forays into Charlton’s territory in an attempt to fill their deep deficit.

Many teams will roll up to this corner of the capital at risk of a hiding. Chris Powell has reshaped Charlton into a briskly confident team who have a multi-threatening strike pairing comprised of the sturdy Kermorgant and the error-hunting Wright-Phillips, who had a field day here. Wiggins is a galloping marvel of a left-back and Danny Green, on the right of midfield, might be finding his best creative feet after his summer climb from Dagenham.

Clearly, it does not pay to line up against such opponents in gift-giving mood. The crashing shame was that United spent many of the first 13 minutes clipping the ball confidently around the pitch, working brisk triangles in Charlton’s half, with Danny Livesey alert enough to snuff out Wright-Phillips’ opening burst down the middle.

Then the sky fell in. Johnnie Jackson picked out Wiggins with a peach of a pass, the defender eluded Tavernier and looped over a cross, and Kermorgant took clinical advantage of his space to score.

United are often notable for their ability to respond to misfortune. Not here. Even Livesey, perhaps their most doughty performer, was not immune to the collective seizure that followed, passing poorly across the box and allowing Wright-Phillips to sneak in and tee up Green for an overhit cross.

Berrett and Robson then coughed up possession under moderate pressure. Then Robson upended Green and entered Darren Sheldrake’s notebook. Then a Carlisle corner was dealt with by the home keeper Ben Hamer, who swiftly booted the ball upfield, causing Wright-Phillips to force Tavernier into the first major error of his loan spell.

“He’s better than Shaun,” sang the merry Addicks fans once ‘BWP’ had dispatched his goal from a sharp angle, thereby introducing a little sibling rivalry into matters. It was a closer argument than this contest was swiftly becoming. After Robson briefly troubled Hamer with a free-kick and Rory Loy showed a burst of left-wing flair to elude Chris Solly, it was three.

Wiggins, again, made the dynamic run, and when Wright-Phillips had two failed goes at forcing the ball past Livesey and Murphy on the line, Kermorgant stepped in to smash it into the attic of Collin’s net.

First-half business was closed with a Tom Taiwo surge that, regrettably, had no end product; a Hollands blast that JP McGovern managed to block; and then Robson’s second sin: a clip of Wright-Phillips’ heels after he had been ambushed by the striker. Second-half affairs began with Lubo Michalik’s arrival from the bench at Liam Noble’s expense, but then another swift lurch towards farce, as Hollands motored through a midfield gap, skimmed a low 25-yarder towards Collin, and then dashed off to celebrate when it reappeared, a second later, in the net.

Carlisle’s keeper need not be pilloried for his mistake. Charlton’s fourth goal was a rare donation from a normally reliable custodian. But it fit the pattern of the day like a mitt. In the minutes that followed, Collin claimed a cross and duly flattened Livesey as he landed, earning the gloveman another outburst of mockery from the fans behind him in the North Stand.

United’s only hope now was to prevent further such assaults on their esteem. Tavernier, who deserves some praise for refusing to shrivel after his first-half bungle, earned a generous penalty when his cross connected with Michael Morrison’s arm, but Hamer guessed correctly to repel Berrett’s penalty.

At the other end, Livesey hurled his frame into successive shots from Wright-Phillips, Wiggins and Kermorgant. Then Carlisle emerged with another rare chance, as Murphy – now at left-back – put a cross from deep onto Lee Miller’s head but the striker directed it a few inches wide.

This wasn’t a day to be an under-served Blues striker. Miller and Loy were subbed with 13 minutes to go: more than enough time for one replacement, Craig Curran, to be booked for a tiff with Morrison, and another, Francois Zoko, to see yellow for a dangerous scythe on Paul Hayes.

These angry cameos at least confirmed that United feel their frustrations together, if that reading isn’t a little too kind for some tastes. It was, all told, a banquet of mistakes, a high-definition stinker, and the best way to deal with it is probably to note it all down and then move on in haste, wish for some better sights and sounds tomorrow night, and hope that the Blues left their roll of gift-wrap behind in the big smoke.

ADAM COLLIN – Not a happy day for the keeper, whose rare howler was leapt upon by the gleeful, vocal home support.

JAMES TAVERNIER – Eluded by Wiggins and culpable for the second goal, but deserves praise for leading many second-half attacks.

MATTY ROBSON – Struggled to get a grip on the dangerous Green, and saw red after losing command of Wright-Phillips.

DANNY LIVESEY – Hard to hold Livesey responsible for much of the collapse. The defender got Carlisle out of many more scrapes.

PETER MURPHY – Kermorgant and Wright-Phillips had too much for United’s back line early on, but Murphy kept a steady head.

TOM TAIWO – Not the worst of United’s performers with his energy and commitment, if not a polished end product.

JAMES BERRETT – A disappointing showing from the midfielder, capped by his penalty failure.

LIAM NOBLE – Always keen for the ball but struggled to get into game as Charlton got on top, before his half-time substitution.

JP MCGOVERN – Unable to make anything happen in attack, tried to help defensive effort against the rampant hosts.

RORY LOY – Produced a couple of moments of flair but otherwise a frustrating day for the forward.

LEE MILLER – Battled away against big centre-halves and tried to provide a platform, but Carlisle couldn’t get going in attack.

Subs: Lubo Michalik (for Noble, 46) – Did his best to limit damage; Craig Curran (for Loy 77) – Booked after spat with Morrison; Francois Zoko (for Miller 77) – Late yellow card in futile cameo. Not used: Mark Gillespie, Jeremy Helan.

Booked: Robson, Curran, Zoko.

Sent off: Robson

Charlton Athletic: Hamer, Solly, Wiggins, Taylor, Morrison, Green (Wagstaff 69), Hughes, Hollands (Euell 73), Jackson, Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips (Hayes 77). Not used: Sullivan, Cort.

Goals: Kermorgant 13, 37; Wright-Phillips 21, Hollands 48

Booked: Kermorgant

Ref: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey)

Crowd: 16,741

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