Charlton revel in black Wednesday

Football: Charlton Athletic 2 (Grant 7, Mortimer pen 36) Sheffield Wednesday 0 Attendance: 13,815
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The Independent Online
BY common consent the First Division is in mediocre shape this season. What then can one say about the standards of the Premiership after this result in which Charlton sternly and repeatedly perplexed their higher- flying brethren?

Charlton were too wily and too purposeful for Wednesday and from the moment they took the lead in the sixth minute it was not the victory that was in doubt, only the margin. The dismissal of John Humphrey with 35 minutes left for a petty second bookable offence was a mere blip.

Their manager, Alan Curbishley, who has been in the job long enough not to be carried away, was sensible in his moment of triumph. It was always possible, he said, for sides from the First Division to compete with the Premiership in one-off matches but the size of their squads made it so much harder over a whole season. Fair comment perhaps, but one which did not do full justice to his charges, whose hunger was matched by superior sophistication.

"I don't think it's such a surprise," said Curbishley. "I've been looking forward to it and I expected to win it." Wednesday caused few scares and their manager, David Pleat, was a trifle upset at the penalty award from which the second goal came, but he conceded defeat with commendable honesty. "We played up and at 'em stuff in the second half and they beat us at that as well," he said. "There's no doubt Charlton played very well and caused our defence problems early on. Their central defence was excellent under pressure." It was impossible to disagree with a word.

Pleat's back three were drawn out of position for the first goal after Guy Whittingham's misplaced square pass 35 yards from their goal. Paul Mortimer was thus able to pick out the impressive (and transfer-listed) Kim Grant, whose shot found the bottom corner.

With Wednesday barely competing, Charlton extended their lead in the 36th minute. When Mortimer again found Grant with the ball towards the right-hand edge of the Wednesday area, the goalkeeper Kevin Pressman had no choice but to run out. There were doubts whether there was an offence as Grant went tumbling over and, if there was, whether it was inside the area. Nevertheless Mortimer scored from the spot.

Pleat was even-minded, also criticising Humphrey's sending-off, and such a cool approach might have better served his side. They hit a post and had a goal unluckily disallowed for offside when Darko Kovacevic found the target, but there was plenty of action at the other end too. Another two goals would not have flattered Charlton and whoever they confront in the fourth round should be wary of the one-off situation.