Charlton Athletic 1 Stoke City 0: Sam's late flourish at Valley ends Stoke's 12-game streak
Wednesday 30 January 2008
Andy Gray, given his full debut after arriving from Burnley for £1.5m, produced all the class up front for which Charlton's manager Alan Pardew had been hoping last night – but when it came to producing the cutting edge, Lloyd Sam was the man.
The midfielder's close-range header just seven minutes from time to make it unlucky 13 for a formidable Stoke side that had not been beaten in its previous 12 Championship matches.
When substitute Luke Varney missed his kick in front of goal it seemed as if the home side would go unrewarded for a second half of irrepressible enterprise in the face of increasingly obdurate defending, but Varney recovered to hook the ball across goal for the decisive strike.
With leaders West Bromwich losing, and Watford dropping another two points, Charlton gained valuable ground to move level with their visitors, within four points of the top.
Pardew, who had forewarned the home fans to expect an "ugly" game against the side he rated as the most difficult to break down in the Championship, was understandably proud of his team.
"I've played against Premier League teams who haven't defended as diligently as Stoke have tonight," Pardew said. "People have looked at the Championship this season and said there's not a quality team in it. I disagree.
"I think the bottom half of the League is far stronger than it was the last time I was involved two years ago, and a lot of the top teams are going to have indifferent results against them. Our fate will probably be decided by those match-ups, so from that point of view this was a big win."
Pardew was well satisfied by Gray's expertise up front. "Andy did make a difference and his ability to hold onto possession in not a lot of room is key. He has taken us up a level."
Pardew reserved plenty of admiration too for Stoke's front man Ricardo Fuller, who threatened throughout on the break and was only prevented from giving his side the lead a minute into the second half by an excellent reflex save from Nicky Weaver.
And the 'keeper reacted again in time added on to maintain a precious victory after substitute Jon Parkin connected with one of Rory Delap's trademark long throw-ins from the left sideline.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis felt his side might have nicked a point, but made his own point about Charlton's recent Premier League status and relative wealth.
"They will be absolutely devastated here if they don't get promoted, because other than West Brom I think they've got the strongest squad."
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Weaver; Moutaouakil, McCarthy, Bougherra, Youga; Sam (Semedo, 86), Holland, Zhi, Ambrose (Thomas, 70); Gray, Iwelumo (Varney, 65). Substitutes not used: Randolph (gk), Fortune.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Griffin, Cort, Shawcross, Dickinson (Parkin, 86); Lawrence, Eustace, Delap, Pugh; Cresswell, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Pulis, Diao, Zakuani.
Referee: M Haywood (W Yorkshire).
Latest in Sport
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
British Grand Prix 2015: What time does it start, where can I watch it and are tickets still available?
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
Chelsea transfer news: Diego Costa wants a reunion with £25m Manchester United target Arda Turan... because he loves his kebabs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture