Charlton Athletic 2 Blackburn Rovers 0: Powell own goal helps resurgent Rovers spoil the leaving party

Click to follow
The Independent Football

After ground-sharing twice in recent years, Charlton probably thought their makeshift days were over but those skills picked up by working on the hoof came in handy on Saturday.

Fifteen minutes before the start of the match, it was announced that Alan Curbishley was leaving the club. The players and staff suddenly had to gather on the pitch to pay their respects. If you had told the crowd Luiz Felipe Scolari was taking his place, there could not have been more surprise.

Curbishley's exit, in losing to a Blackburn Rovers side closing in on a Uefa Cup place, came with more of a whimper than a bang.

Steven Reid's header had opened the scoring from a long throw-in and Chris Powell's subsequent own goal meant that Mark Hughes' men are now extremely close to Europe.

"There's no plot, nothing sinister ... there's no ulterior motive," said Curbishley. He simply wants a break after 30 years as a player and as a manager.

Curbishley explained this parting of the ways had been in the offing all season. He has been working in three-year cycles with his chairman Richard Murray and with his contract about to enter its final year, the onus was on the manager to commit himself. He was not prepared to do that.

Stoic to the end, even when being applauded by the home fans, he spoke of making a graceful exit, proud that he had been "clapped out the front door, when most managers get booted out of the back".

His last match will be at Old Trafford on Sunday, in a meeting of the two longest-serving Premiership managers. Curbishley will notch up his 729th game as co- or sole manager.

Goals: Reid (43) 0-1; Powell (og 65) 0-2

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Andersen; Sankofa, Perry, Sorondo (Fortune, 75), Powell; Kishishev (Sam, 60), Holland, Hughes, Ambrose; Bartlett (Lisbie, 60), D Bent. Substitutes not used: Myhre (gk), Euell.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen (Bentley, 50), Gray; Reid, Tugay, Savage, Pedersen; Bellamy, Sinama-Pongolle (Kuqi, 89) Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Mokoena, Peter.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

Bookings: Charlton Sorondo, Kishishev, Powell; Blackburn Neill, Savage, Bellamy, Pedersen.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 26,254.