Charlton hold on as Davies sounds alarm

Charlton Athletic 3 - Yeovil Town 2

A fighting tradition in the Cup, and the ability that goes with it, dies hard when you come from Yeovil. Charlton were the latest team from England's top division to be rattled by the West Country battlers, who still dine out on what they did to Sunderland back in 1949. They nearly did it again yesterday, and can be counted unlucky not to have come away with a replay from The Valley, Talal El Karkouri denying them a draw by clearing Phil Jevons' shot off the line.

A fighting tradition in the Cup, and the ability that goes with it, dies hard when you come from Yeovil. Charlton were the latest team from England's top division to be rattled by the West Country battlers, who still dine out on what they did to Sunderland back in 1949. They nearly did it again yesterday, and can be counted unlucky not to have come away with a replay from The Valley, Talal El Karkouri denying them a draw by clearing Phil Jevons' shot off the line.

Yeovil were applauded off by Charlton's supporters, and the loudspeaker announcer told them and their 5,000 followers: "Keep on playing like that and we will see you back here in the League in a few years' time."

Charlton's manager Alan Curbishley was happy to join the chorus. "It was a proper Cup tie with everything in it," he said. "I am just pleased we have come out the other side.

"I was impressed with Yeovil, they looked really dangerous on the break and we had it all to do. But from the moment the draw was announced I knew it would be game on."

It did look, however, as if it was game over when a two-goal burst early in the second half left Yeovil trailing 3-1.

The loss of their best player, Paul Terry, brother of Chelsea's John, with knee ligament damage immediately after those goals appeared to have put the mission out of their reach but, as their manager Gary Johnson had promised, they gave it a go.

"We said we wanted to see if we could compete with a Premiership team, and we did," said Johnson. "We must have frightened them."

An extra ingredient in this mix was Charlton's wretched record against lesser clubs in knock-out competitions and the London side were inclined to feel their way cautiously, especially with a 20-goal man like Jevons on the prowl.

Yeovil's confidence and commitment were admirable and their fans, gathered in the Jimmy Seed Stand end groaned as - with Dean Kiely beaten all ends up - Terry's shot rebounded from the base of an upright. Vulnerable to high crosses, Yeovil had their own share of first-half escapes, and Francis Jeffers and Shaun Bartlett should both have done better.

It was one of these set-pieces which saw Charlton go ahead. El Karkouri's free-kick from the halfway line was headed down by Hermann Hreidarsson for Bryan Hughes to volley in.

Curbishley admitted he had to change his planned half-time team talk from a congratulatory one to harsher words when, in the dying seconds, Kevin Gall came galloping into the home penalty area and, when he lost possession, Terry was on hand to drive the loose ball past Kiely.

Normality seemed restored by the two goals early in the second half. First, the excellent Danny Murphy laid a low ball just out of Chris Weale's reach to permit Jeffers the simplest of tap-ins, then Jerome Thomas cut in from the left to supply Bartlett for a left-foot shot from close in. Bartlett had another chance to make it 4-1 before Yeovil's counter-attack clicked into gear.

The arrival of Arron Davies from the substitutes' bench proved a crucial switch. He had not been on long before, collecting the ball on the edge of the penalty box, he struck a bouncing shot into the corner of Kiely's goal.

A ball given away by Charlton's laxity at the Yeovil end was the launch pad for a thrilling raid in which Davies, once more, hurtled through and was only denied by a brave dash and block by Kiely. As the ball broke loose, Jevons' bid to find the untenanted net was denied by El Karkouri's clearance. It was that close to a trip to the Huish for Charlton.

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