Dublin off as City sunk in late drama
Charlton Athletic 2 Norwich City 0The Canaries suffered the cruellest of blows last night as two late penalties crushed their hopes of snatching a valuable, and unlikely win, at The Valley.
Charlton Athletic 2 Norwich City 0
The Canaries suffered the cruellest of blows last night as two late penalties crushed their hopes of snatching a valuable, and unlikely win, at The Valley.
City had looked good value for a point but as the match entered the final few minutes, disaster struck.
Charlton sub Izale Mcleod was at the centre of it all, going down under a challenge from Gary Doherty and then, within three minutes felled by Julien Brellier.
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Both spot kicks were put away with aplomb by Andy Reid - and City's hopes of their first away win of the season were shattered.
To add to manager Peter Grant's woes, skipper Dion Dulin was given a straight red card after an altercation with Danny Mills as the match ended on a sour note all round for the Canaries.
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Grant's only change from the weekend win over Crystal Palace was to drop four-goal striker Jamie Cureton, preferring to add Julien Brellier's physical presence to his midfield and allowing Darren Huckerby to support striker Chris Brown.
Skipper Jason Shackell, who has missed the last two games with ankle ligament problems, was on the bench, with Dion Dublin alongside Gary Doherty in the centre of defence.
Charlton boss Alan Pardew made four changes to the team which drew 2-2 at Colchester at the weekend, with Madjid Bougherra and Andy Reid recalled after their international commitments, Lloyd Sam on the right of midfield and Luke Varney making his first start for the Addicks since his summer move from Crewe.
There were hugs from Pardew for his former West Ham number two, Grant, and Cureton - but that was as far as Charlton's hospitality extended.
Huckerby started on the right, rather than the left, possibly because Grant thought he might get more change out of veteran Chris Powell than ex-City defender Danny Mills, back at Charlton on loan from Manchester City.
Charlton carved out the first chance, inside four minutes, when Chris Iwelumo's height caused problems just inside the City area. The ball reached Varney, who knocked it left to Reid, but his usually trustworthy left foot let him down as he fired over the bar. Doherty was called on to block a Varney shot as Charlton stepped up a gear early on.
City's passing was indifferent, but when Jon Otsemobor found Huckerby, his run down the middle came to nothing when his pass left to Chadwick saw the wide man offside.
Reid and Varney were working their magic down the Charlton left, and Dublin had to react quickly to head a Varney pile-driver aside for a corner.
Charlton's best chance of the half came on 11 minutes when Sam's teasing cross found the head of Iwelumo. His header crashed against David Marshall's crossbar but Zheng Zhi somehow failed to convert the rebound.
The first Mills-Huckerby handbags took 16 minutes to arrive - City got the free-kick, but it really was six of one and half a dozen of the other. Perhaps the Charlton man was sharing his team's frustrations at the way Norwich were slowly beginning to settle.
It had been one-way traffic in the opening quarter of an hour, but Charlton were guilty of too many misplaced passes when attacking. When the ball was in the air it was a different matter, City grateful for the intervention of Darel Russell's head to put a Reid free-kick just over the bar on 24 minutes.
While City's defenders were enjoying the fray, the problem was creating anything of note at the other end, so, with almost half an hour gone, Huckerby moved again, this time alongside Brown, as City pressed for the first time in the match.
The first corner came within minutes and while nothing came of it, it was encouraging, at least.
Russell saw a shot charged down, Adam Drury likewise, and the Canaries began to emerge from their shell, prompting some vocal encouragement from a healthy travelling support.
Brellier and Russell were exerting their authority in midfield, while Dublin and Doherty were rocks in defence.
It looked like it had all come good six minutes before half-time, when Chadwick allowed a throw-in down the right to go over his shoulder, then knocked it to Huckerby who turned and shot in one movement - only to see Nicky Weaver perfectly positioned to save.
Brown caught the ball well on the turn moments later but shot straight at Weaver - and, after a shaky start, City would have been more than happy at their first 45 minutes' work.
Chadwick made way for Lee Croft for the start of the second half, but within a minute Charlton had two players requiring treatment; Varney after slipping in the area and Mills, for a bloody lip after a challenge by Simon Lappin.
Varney recovered sufficiently to head a Sam cross over the bar while the same player saw Dublin block an effort from outside the area.
Dublin was performing heroics in the City defence, sticking a leg out to stop Reid's long-range effort in between marshalling the troops.
The temperature increased again when Huckerby fell to the ground clutching his face after a chase with Mills - and then at the other end Marshall punched the ball off the top of Iwelumo's head and then palmed a Sam shot away for a corner.
But while City were keeping their heads, Charlton were beginning to allow a nervousness to creep into their game again.
The fans were baying for Huckerby's blood when he took out Mills just before the hour mark, the City man earning a yellow card for his efforts - Mills presumably left to pick up his Oscar at a later date.
Brown headed narrowly over from Croft's cross soon after, Zheng doing the same from a Sam cross at the other end - and at that stage it was anyone's game. It should have been Charlton's on 63 minutes, when Iwelumo played Varney through only for Marshall to stand tall and save with his legs - a miss that was made to look even more costly when Reid shot wide form the edge of the box when he should have done better.
Reid went closer, but not close enough, with a free-kick that clipped the bar on 69 minutes while Otsemobor blocked his drive as Charlton turned up the pressure. It was a vital stage of the game for City, who, within the space of just a few minutes, had looked vulnerable on four occasions.
City were living on the edge as the match reached the last 15 minutes - and then the rug was taken from under their feet.
Mills set up the move, with a long ball into the area that found sub Izale McLeod. Doherty gave chase but with McLeod closing in on goal, he tumbled under the challenge and referee Jarnail Singh pointed to the spot, leaving Reid with the formality of putting the spot kick past Marshall.
That was bad enough - but when McLeod was hauled down by Brellier three minutes later, it really did rub salt in the wound.
Reid put the ball in the same spot - and when Dublin was given his marching orders after a set-to with Mills, City's misery was complete.