Football: Peschisolido secures first victory

Fulham 2 Neilson 22, Peschisolido 42 Charlton Athletic 1 Melville og 52 Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 15,154
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The Independent Online
AS LONDON derbies go, this one is played less frequently than sharks are sighted off the Cornish coast. The last time these teams faced each other was eight years ago, but that does not mean it was any less fiercely contested than the more traditional games in the capital, given what is at stake for the two clubs this season, with both hoping to be in the First Division promotion shakedown come next May.

As it was, Fulham's first League win of the season after three consecutive draws came at the expense of Charlton's first defeat in what was a scrappy game that rarely sparkled with anything but aggression. As Fulham's manager, Paul Bracewell, was at pains to emphasise afterwards: "The lads worked hard."

Fulham were promoted as champions of the Second Division last season while Charlton suffered relegation from the Premiership, and given that pedigree, logic suggested that the visitors should have walked this contest, but from early on it was clear that Bracewell's men were not about to respect anyone's reputation.

Fulham have had as hard an opening few fixtures as anyone, playing Birmingham City and Manchester City already, yet in a sign that the Cottagers are improving fast, they hardly let Charlton into the game. Such was the disappointment of the Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, afterwards that he even gave a brief post-match talk to his players on the pitch, in front of the fans. As Curbishley said later: "I wanted the supporters to see that we were as upset as they were."

With Charlton lacking any creativity or imagination, Fulham took control early on and with 21 minutes gone, a quick turn by Steve Hayward put Geoff Horsfield clear on goal only for his shot to hit the crossbar, but Alan Neilson headed into the empty net.

For a team that nearly made such a good fight of staying in the Premiership last season, Charlton lacked Fulham's desire and after 43 minutes the visitors were two down. The ball had rebounded into the path of Paul Peschisolido, who slotted it home with the minimum of fuss.

However, after 53 minutes Charlton pulled one back as Mark Kinsella sent in a cross which rebounded around the penalty box and into the net off Fulham's Andy Melville.

Then, five minutes later, Clive Mendonca found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat but he hit his shot too close to Maik Taylor, leaving Curbishley to be frank about his team's contribution, saying: "We didn't deserve much from this game."