Football: Goater opens up the class divide

Charlton Athletic 0 Manchester City 1 Goater 48 Half- time: 0-0 Attendance: 20,043

A MANCHESTER CITY team whom their manager, Joe Royle, described as "down to the bare bones" because of illness and injury, showed their pedigree for the Premiership by fighting off - sometimes literally - the energetic challenge of Charlton to confirm they are worthy leaders of the First Division. Victory for Charlton would have taken them above City into top spot, so there could have been no more pressing incentive to please a sold-out stadium. However, once Sean Goater's header sent Manchester ahead a couple of minutes into the second half they indicated clear intent to hang out the "closed" sign.

This is a club, according to the reliable Royle's statistic, who have lost only six of their 50 games since last December, and it was easy to believe. Nick Weaver's excellence in goal complemented an uncompromising defence which denied Charlton, by means fair and foul, to extend an unbeaten run to nine games.

The complacent referee, Roger Furnandiz, appeared set on getting through the 90 minutes without reaching for his book and failed to bear down on some thunderous City challenges which left the striker Clive Mendonca, in particular, battered and limping. The official had no option but to show yellow cards to Kevin Horlock and John Robinson late in the second half when they flailed at each other at the height of Charlton's attacking frustration. Not before time.

Both managers were disparaging about the refereeing, but Alan Curbishley had more cause on his team's behalf. "It was a tough, physical game, which I expected," he said. "No complaints about that, but not to offer protection is wrong. Not being punished allows a player to carry on doing it, whereas if he gets booked he is on his guard. Not to book anyone in the first half beggared belief."

Against a more whistle-happy referee it is likely that City's Dutch centre- back Gerard Wiekens would not have lasted until the interval. "How many more times?" bellowed a Charlton fan as Wiekens clattered Mendonca from behind for the umpteenth foul which did not even draw a word of caution.

So hard up were City for fit players that Gareth Taylor, with an overnight temperature of 103, was deemed to have recovered sufficiently to play, while Mark Kennedy occupied a place on the bench despite a hamstring problem which was serious enough for him not to bother changing. "He was there in case of an epidemic," explained Royle, who had a case of the sniffles himself.

Curbishley opted not to give his new pounds 1m signing, Andy Todd, a closer view of this bruising match than a seat on the bench, explaining that it was a difficult occasion for a debut. In his absence it was the Charlton captain, Mark Kinsella, putting behind him the disappointment of Ireland's exit from the European Championships, who seized the initiative in midfield, though his team were unable to make much of their first-half domination. Andy Hunt's third minute effort on the turn, which missed Weaver's left- hand post by a whisker, turned out to be the closest they came in the half.

Towards the interval City jolted Charlton's confidence, first with a Danny Tiatto low cross shot which Dean Kiely held. Next time Kiely was harder pressed to block Danny Granville's fierce drive and then the follow- up by Jeff Whitley.

That danger was underlined on the restart. When the corner which Kiely had conceded with a save from Whitley was not cleared, Horlock's cross found Goater for a header which Kiely could only thrust into the roof of the goal. "I was disappointed with the free header Goater got," said Curbishley.

Kinsella twice threatened an equaliser. His shot from outside the penalty area was pushed on to the bar by Weaver and rebounded to Martin Pringle, who shovelled it over. Then, with City's supporters interrupting their rendition of "Blue Moon" to whistle anxiously for the end, Kinsella's header was turned over the bar by Weaver.

Royle called it "a tremendous win considering the difficulties," adding: "The message is that we are hard to beat." Curbishley agreed. "This is a big boost for City , but not a disappointment we can't get over."

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home