Charlton Athletic 2 Crystal Palace 0: Varney settles derby dispute to check Palace's rise

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The Independent Football

The last time these south London rivals faced each other at The Valley, they were at a very different stage of the season and in a different league. That 2-2 draw in May 2005 sent Crystal Palace down from the Premier League and last night Charlton, despite being relegated themselves last season, again had the last laugh.

Whether this victory will be quite so important will only become clear in three months' time, but Luke Varney's goals gave the hosts a deserved victory. Having also hit the post and forced two good saves from Julian Speroni in the visitors' goal, there could be no complaints from Palace.

Despite losing at Scunthorpe last weekend – a result that left Alan Pardew deeply disappointed – the Charlton manager only made one change, as he introduced full-back Greg Halford, signed on loan from Sunderland last month, for his debut.

The new man soon impressed. With 18 minutes gone, Halford spun around Danny Butterfield but curled his shot wide of Speroni's post and two minutes later he put in a dangerous low cross which Zheng Zhi struck hard and on target only for Speroni to punch his shot away.

Pardew's counterpart Neil Warnock, presiding over a run of just one defeat in 17 League games before last night, is new to these south London derbies.

The former Sheffield United manager was not in charge of Crystal Palace when these two teams met in a poor game in September that Charlton won 1-0. Since he has replaced Peter Taylor, however, Warnock has guided the Eagles up the Championship, making them play-off contenders, not that they were in contention for much of the first-half at The Valley.

Charlton started the match inside the play-off zone, in fifth, two places and just two points ahead of their neighbours. The Addicks made sure of extending that advantage thanks to Varney. From a free-kick on the halfway line in the 60th minute, Matt Holland chipped the ball in, Varney turned his marker and beat Speroni from six yards.

It was not a classic, but the forward's sixth goal of the season was celebrated as if it had earned Charlton instant promotion. That of course is their aim, as they attempt to bounce back, at the first attempt, to the Premier League. Varney's second of the night, three minutes from time, was a rather better finish as he cut inside from the left wing and beat Speroni, the ball taking a deflection off Mark Hudson on its way.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Weaver; Halford, Bougherra, McCarthy, Youga; Sam,

Zhi, Holland, Ambrose (Semedo, 84); Gray (Iwelumo, 84), Varney (McLeod, 90). Substitutes not used: Elliot (gk), Basey.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Speroni; Halls, Lawrence, Hudson, Butterfield; Watson, Derry, Danns (Kuqi, 75); Ifill (Scannell, h-t), Morrison (Freedman, 80), Scowcroft. Substitutes not used: Soares, Fonte.

Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).

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