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Football: Curbishley plea for the defence

ALAN CURBISHLEY, the Charlton Athletic manager, is urging his side not to neglect their defensive duties after Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers denied them a chance of going top of the Nationwide League First Division.

A victory by two clear goals would have lifted the Addicks ahead of the leaders Manchester City on goals scored, but instead they were undone by Ashley Ward's double as Blackburn maintained their improvement under Rovers' caretaker manager, Tony Parkes.

Charlton had only a Shaun Newton strike to show for a succession of chances and Curbishley said: "It is the same old story all over again. We keep conceding goals just after half-time and this was no different.

"We have now managed just one point from three home games and that is not good enough. Our team spirit is all right but the players are shell- shocked by this result."

Parkes believes a play-off spot is still within Blackburn's grasp as they maintained their unbeaten run since Brian Kidd's sacking.

"From our position a play-off place is what we are looking at," he said. "The top two spots have gone now but we can aim for the top six and our start that would be a good season.

"I was delighted with our battling performance. We had to take a lot of pressure from a team who could have gone top."