In a week when Kevin Pietersen's appointment brought the subject of sports captaincy under the microscope, it was a tale of two skippers here. Mark Hudson, wearing the Charlton armband, kept his head to score an early opener and set his team on their way to victory while Swansea's Garry Monk lost his to earn a second-half dismissal – and virtually ensure defeat.
It is almost a quarter of a century since Swansea last played at this level and if they carry on defending like they did yesterday, the return trip will be a lot quicker. They were a goal down inside three minutes when Hudson, a free transfer from Crystal Palace this summer, rose unopposed to head home 16-year-old Jonjo Shelvey's corner. The second, another header from a set-piece, was scored by Andy Gray five minutes from the end.
"The two goals were soft and we would not have won the title last season had we defended like that," conceded Swansea's Spanish manager, Roberto Martinez. "But The Valley is a tough place to start and although there is a lot to improve, there were many positives to take from the game." Nothing immediately springs to mind, although Swansea did pass the ball around neatly enough and Leon Britton was busy and effective in a five-man midfield.
Charlton were in the Premier League as recently as two seasons ago but fielded a team unrecognisable from those heady days. The club's PA announcer did his best to rally fans: "The squad has been trimmed but it is now full of young, hungry players desperate for promotion. Let's get behind them." Hudson's debut goal ensured as much and Charlton showed plenty of pace and invention early on.
They almost doubled their advantage when Lloyd Sam's acrobatic volley was tipped around a post by Swansea's goalkeeper Dorus de Vries. Martinez has given his squad a strong Spanish and South American presence but started with only one of that number, Guillem Bauza, in the drizzle. But Swansea's cause was hardly helped by Monk's misdemeanours midway through the second half. Booked after 67 minutes for obstruction, the captain was then shown a second yellow card for a late challenge that left Matt Holland on the turf. "Harsh," observed Martinez. "A definite sending-off," countered Pardew.
Martinez threw on last season's top scorer, Jason Scotland, and he had a powerful shot parried by Nicky Weaver. But Charlton were the more menacing and deservedly added a second goal, Gray stooping to head home substitute Grant Basey's free-kick. "We have spoken about how important set-pieces are in the Championship and to score two on the first day was excellent," said Pardew.Reuse content