Derby County. . . . . 2
NO ONE should be misled by this scoreline into believing just yet that Derby have finally found the secret of a balanced life after two seasons of trying. They may have followed up last Saturday's first away win in the League this season with a second last night, but they can be grateful that matches are decided by goals and not possession.
Derby were so far behind in that department that had this been boxing there would have been no chance of them pulling off a victory except by a knock-out, which was pretty much what the goals by Paul Simpson and Mark Pembridge achieved.
Derby normally tend to do everything by halves. When they get it right at home they get it wrong away and vice versa. But their stubborn refusal to submit under what was at times fierce pressure from the First Division leaders should do wonders for their confidence on their travels.
Neither should Charlton - assembled, it should be remembered, for a fraction of Derby's pounds 11m - lose heart despite forfeiting their unbeaten home record.
But it may be necessary for them to hone what is a fairly blunt attack. For all their first-half pressure they had only a fine double save by Martin Taylor from the audacious John Robinson to really curse. Derby's first shot on goal, a deftly curled free-kick around the wall by Paul Simpson in the 31st minute, gave them a short-lived advantage.
Justice was seen to be done six minutes later when Garry Nelson bundled home Craig Short's back-header, but Charlton remained vulnerable to the counter. Sure enough, after 75 minutes Pembridge stole in for the winner with a stooping header to a cross from Simpson and ought to have added a third with a minute remaining.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Salmon; Palmer, McLeary, Chapple, Minto; Robinson, Walsh, Pitcher, Grant (Newton, 55); Nelson, Leaburn (Bailey, 77). Substitute not used: Vaughan (gk).
Derby County (4-5-1): Taylor; Kavanagh, Short, Wassall, Forsyth; Harkes, Charles, Kuhl, Pembridge, Simpson; Kitson. Substitutes not used: Williams, Ramage, Sutton (gk).
Referee: I Hemley (Bedfordshire).