Charlton Athletic 0 QPR 1: Bolder blast adds to Charlton's woes

Lamentable performance against Harford's rampant Rangers leaves manager Pardew with plenty to ponder
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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew had warned from the start that the season after relegation would be difficult for his Charlton team. But this difficult? The expectation that they would fill their boots against the Championship's bottom club turned into the nightmare of a third defeat in eight days, a deserved defeat too.

The rarity of an away win, their first since April, had Queens Park Rangers' considerable following chorusing that it was "just like watching Brazil". Not quite, but an impressive showing for their caretaker manager, Ray Harford, who has now overseen a four-game run of two victories and two draws with just one goal conceded. Certainly in the second half Harford's side could, indeed should, have scoredthree or four, so clearly didthey dominate.

Andy Reid, Charlton's sparkplug, was misfiring, and from deeper in defence than usual. Accordingly, the home side struggled to break down a rugged and obdurate defence in which Damion Stewart was especially effective. On top of that, Pardew's half-time decision to withdraw Jose Semedo, solid in front of the back four, offered Rangers much more space, and they gratefully occupied it. Semedo's replacement, Aswas Thomas, spent most of his time lingering on theleft touchline.

"The substitution didn't work," Pardew admitted. QPR even had the luxury of missing a penalty four minutes into the second half, smacked against the base of a post by Martin Rowlands, his first spot-kick failure in 10. But so sweetly were QPR combining, so forceful was their running, that, as Harford said, a goal had to come. And come it did with just under 20 minutes to go.

Chris Barker crossed from near the left corner flag and Nicky Weaver's attempt to catch was foiled by the towering Dane Marc Nygaard, the loose ball bouncing invitingly for Rangers' captain, Adam Bolder, to volley into the net. "Weaver said hewas fouled but also felt he could have done better," was Pardew's summing-up of the points-deciding moment.

Charlton's attempts to get back into it were so feeble that earliermurmurings from their loyal followers escalated into bellows of discontent and, at the finish, boos. They had not been much better in the first half, suffering from what Pardew called "a lack of tightness". Togetherness, too, at times, though Charlton are suffering from injuries. They have three left-backs out so brought in the 18-year-old Grant Basey, who has come up through the club's Football In The Community scheme. "Our only highlight of the day," said Pardew.

Offered second-half space to frolic, QPR did precisely that, with Mikele Leigertwood especially effective, though he cast away his side's best chance after Danny Mills carelessly lost possession to let him in on goal; he side-footed embarrassingly wide.

Rather than start feeling sorry for themselves after the penaltymiss, Rangers picked up their game. Stewart, up for a corner, got in a clever flick which Weaver just managed to fall on, before beating away a fierce effort from the free-running Rowan Vine.

For Charlton, Luke Varney drew one fine stop from Lee Camp, while Reid wasted two invitingly sited free-kicks and became so frustrated that he was booked for giving a linesman a mouthful. Pardew included himself in criticism of Charlton's poor show. "We didn't look a good side. It's time to reflect."