El Karkouri leaves Rovers on the retreat

Charlton Athletic 1 - Blackburn Rovers 0
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The Independent Football

Charlton, booed off the pitch after their last home match, a goalless draw with Southampton, created a far happier Valley here last night under the approving gaze of several stalwarts from their 1946 and 1947 FA Cup final sides.

The points which maintained a Premiership start they have never bettered were secured by their Moroccan £1m summer signing from Paris St-German, Talal El Karkouri, who picked a fine time to produce his first goal for the club.

Blackburn, now in a very unhealthy position in the Premiership, began as if they were eager to make up to their new manager, Mark Hughes, for the midweek Carling Cup defeat at home to Bournemouth, with Jon Stead, Paul Dickov and Matt Jansen scurrying to good effect up front.

After seven minutes, Jansen drove in a cross which Garry Flitcroft cannoned off the post from six yards out.

Charlton were fully living up to the programme notes of their manager, Alan Curbishley, when he wrote: "I am convinced our team play will get better as the season develops, but at the moment it is all a bit disjointed."

The team play took a turn for the better after a quarter of an hour, however, as Jonatan Johansson, who had come on for the limping Francis Jeffers three minutes earlier, accepted a cross from Kevin Lisbie and thumped in a shot that Blackburn were relieved to see blocked by the unwitting figure of Dominic Matteo.

Four minutes later, Luke Young maintained the home side's impetus with a 30-yarder which skimmed the bar. The Valley faithful began to sound distinctly encouraged.

After the break, Charlton re-emerged with, you fancied, ears as red as their shirt. Within two minutes, El Karkouri's through ball had freed Lisbie for a shot which rolled just wide of the post.

A minute later Charlton were ahead after a corner earned by the energetic attentions of the far-from-monumental Graham Stuart, who caused the far-from-diminutive Brad Friedel to palm a high ball away over the byline rather than gathering it. Danny Murphy's cross was then nodded down sharply by El Karkouri to spark the home celebrations.

But Blackburn came close to responding in kind within five minutes as Flitcroft's drive was cleared off the line by Hermann Hreidarsson and hacked clear following a goalmouth scramble.

Charlton's discomfort continued in the 72nd minute as Brett Emerton's cross struck Hreidarsson's outstretched arm only for the referee to wave away penalty appeals.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, Perry, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Stuart, El Karkouri, Murphy, Hughes (Euell, 76); Lisbie, Jeffers (Johansson, 12; Kishishev, 76). Substitutes not used: Anderson (gk), Rommedahl.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Amoruso, Matteo, Gray; Emerton, Ferguson, Flitcroft (Tugay, 70), Jansen; Dickov, Stead (Bothroyd, 70). Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Pedersen, Johansson.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).