Curbishley fights nervous exhaustion after Yeovil fright

Charlton Athletic 3 - Yeovil Town 2
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The Independent Online

Having negotiated a tricky tie, one his team were never sure of winning, Alan Curbishley added his voice to the festering issue of fixture congestion. "It's time we all sat down with the Football Association and sorted this out," the Charlton manager said, "because it's getting ridiculous".

Having negotiated a tricky tie, one his team were never sure of winning, Alan Curbishley added his voice to the festering issue of fixture congestion. "It's time we all sat down with the Football Association and sorted this out," the Charlton manager said, "because it's getting ridiculous".

The issue arose as a result of Tottenham's commitment to a replay against West Bromwich Albion on the day they were due at The Valley for a League fixture. "We're having to fit that game in, which will mean nine games in April and only two in March," he added. "We're expected to show respect for the FA Cup and help the England team but it works both ways."

Curbishley can envisage a situation where Charlton are battling to maintain a high position in the Premiership while making progress in a competition they have not come close to winning for 58 years. "A Premiership club are going to win the FA Cup, so why not us?" Curbishley said.

If this is Charlton's destiny in their centenary year the spirited efforts of Yeovil, who relied on the football that has taken them to the top of League Two rather than a blood-and-guts attempt to unsettle superior opposition, will be remembered. That Yeovil got the ball down and played with purpose was the most pleasing feature of a tie that was never safely in Charlton's grasp even though they scored twice in six minutes early in the second half to take a 3-1 lead.

It was a tribute to Yeovil that Curbishley expected them to score and altered the basic structure of his team accordingly. "I had a fright when the draw came out, a fright when we watched Yeovil play three times, and right to the end in a terrific Cup tie I felt they could, you could say they should, have got it to 3-3."

There was no sense of inferiority in Yeovil's play, not a hint that they might buckle when Charlton, after squandering two chances, went ahead in the 37th minute when Talal El Karkouri's free-kick from the half-way line was headed on by the towering Hermann Hreidarsson for Bryan Hughes to sweep home a simple chance.

This was the moment when Curbishley might have expected Charlton to establish their superior status but Yeovil, who had already gone close when Paul Terry joined in an attack to fire in a shot that Dean Kiely just managed to tip on to his right upright, had other ideas.

With only a minute left in the half, Kevin Gall's determined run threw Charlton's defence into confusion. First, Gall wriggled past Hreidarsson, then Jermain Thomas, who, chasing back, only managed to divert the ball to Terry, who was being watched from the stand by his more famous brother John, of Chelsea. Taking a leaf out of his sibling's book, Terry gratefully drove in a defender's goal.

Curbishley laid into his team during the interval, and as a result it looked as though Yeovil were finished when Charlton went into a 3-1 lead early in the second half. In the 51st minute Luke Young broke along the right, Danny Murphy, willingly deployed on that flank, carried on the move with a sharp run and pass for Francis Jeffers to score.

When Shaun Bartlett added a third it looked all over for a team that have taken 20 League scalps in a long history of giant-killing going back to their famous defeat of Sunderland in 1948. But again Charlton's concentration wavered as Yeovil came back at them, playing the more assured football.

In the 66th minute they were back in the game. Charlton's covering was loose when Arron Davies, a substitute for Bartosz Tarachulski, received the ball around the right-hand edge of the penalty area, and he struck a shot across the face of Kiely's goal and inside the far netting.

A few minutes later, Yeovil had a marvellous opportunity to force a replay and add to Charlton's poor record in the competition. The chance fell first to Davies, whose hesitation allowed Kiely to block the shot, then to Phil Jevons, whose goals are propelling the West Country club to promotion from League Two. Had Jevons blasted the ball he would surely have scored. Instead, his attempt at placement was foiled on the goal-line by El Karkouri's outstretched left leg.

Yeovil went off to a standing ovation from both sets of fans. "That made me humble," said their manager, Gary Johnson, "because it means we achieved what we set out to do. We got the ball down and played in a proper football fashion. I enjoyed watching my team play. And I was proud of them."

Goals: Hughes (37) 1-0; Terry (44) 1-1; Jeffers (51) 2-1; Bartlett (57) 3-1; Davies (66) 3-2.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Murphy (Euell, 88), Holland, Hughes (Konchesky, 78), Thomas; Bartlett, Jeffers (Johansson, 78). Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Rommedahl.

Yeovil Town (4-4-2): Weale; Terry (Rose, 60), Skiverton, Guyett, Lindegaard; Gall, Johnson, Way, Stolcers (Caceras, 81); Jevons, Tarachulski (Davies, 63). Substitutes not used: Collis (gk), Miles.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

Booked: Yeovil Town Tarachulski.

Man of the match: Murphy.

Attendance: 22,873.

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