Football: Yorke marches up the hill

Charlton Athletic 0 Manchester United 1

MANCHESTER UNITED took the long road to the top of the Premiership yesterday, wandering down highways and byways and into endless cul-de-sacs before Dwight Yorke completed the ascent in the 89th minute with a glancing header. It is the first time they have stood at the summit this season, apart from a 24-hour spell in early December, and climaxes a month of five straight victories and 16 goals.

Yet such was their lethargy for much of the afternoon, and Charlton's ceaseless endeavour, that a goalless draw seemed for a long time the more likely outcome. Only towards the end of each half did a United side that cost some pounds 45m - more than 10 times as much as the opposition - show the necessary urgency and create some chances.

Curbishley had understandably opted for the security of a third centre- half to counter Andy Cole and Yorke, using John Robinson as a right wing- back against his more celebrated Welsh team-mate Ryan Giggs. Making good use of the extra man in the centre of midfield, they prevented Roy Keane and Nicky Butt from establishing a flow of possession, while Chris Powell found time to go forward as well as guarding David Beckham.

For half an hour were alarmed only by Mark Kin-sella's headed back pass, which almost reached Yorke before the goalkeeper, Simon Royce, and not until the last 10 minutes of the half did United establish a measure of authority, creating their first three chances.

Butt drove Keane's square pass just past the post, Royce made a smart one-handed stop from a Giggs volley and Henning Berg jabbed Giggs's cross wide. Against that, Charlton should have scored immediately before the interval: Peter Schmeichel rushed from goal to concede a corner, then pushed away Kinsella's kick as far as Neil Redfearn, who could not keep his shot low enough. Referee Gary Willard also turned down two penalty appeals for Charlton in first- half stoppage time.

Pushed back in the final quarter of the match, but still working their red socks off, the home side left five men back and seemed to have settled for a morale-boosting draw. They had reasonable expectations of achieving it as Butt twice shot with power rather than accuracy, and then stabbed the ball carelessly wide of the far post after playing a one-two with Yorke.

United, however, increased the pressure by bringing on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a third attacker and also introduced Paul Scholes, whose cross from the right it was that Yorke glanced in off the inside of a post for his sixth goal in four games.

"We deserved to win the game because of the possession we had," said their manager Alex Ferguson. "But credit to Charlton. Their three centre- halves handled our two strikers as well as anyone has. It's a good result for us, because there are games where you have to dig in and find a result."

After looking on as Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Coventry all won on Saturday, Charlton desperately needed to find one as well, but this was not the United of their last League meetings a decade ago, beaten at Selhurst Park and sinking into the bottom half of the table as cries of "Fergie out" were heard. Charlton went down that season, as they did after United's last visit to the Valley in 1957, when Bobby Charlton scored his first hat-trick.

Charlton have now lost nine of their last 10 league matches and gone 13 league matches without a win. The public announcer's parting shot yesterday, looking forward to seeing United return in the Premiership next year, sounded like a definition of optimism.

Goal: Yorke (89) 0-1.

Charlton Athletic (3-5-2): Royce; Rufus, Brown, Tiler; Robinson, Kinsella, K Jones, Redfearn, Powell; Hunt (Bright, 76), Pringle (Parker 82). Substitutes not used: Ilic (gk), Newton, Konchesky, Parker.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville, Berg, Stam, Irwin; Beckham (Solksjaer, 70), Keane, Butt (Scholes, 82), Giggs; Cole, Yorke. Substitutes not used: Van der Gouw, P Neville, Johnsen.

Referee: G Willard (Sussex).

Man of the match: Redfearn.

Attendance: 20,043.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

March On Cancer™ - Local Marketing and Promotions Volunteer

This is an unpaid voluntary role.: Cancer Research UK: We need motivational vo...

Maths Teacher - Evening session

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: I am looking for a qualified experi...

Teaching Assistants

£50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

Supply Teachers needed in Stowmarket

£1034496 - £1516224 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The Job:Randstad ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week