Fulham 2 Charlton Athletic 1: Boa Morte cranks up tension for Curbishley

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The Independent Football

Something is bothering Alan Curbishley. That was clear from his agitated body language during this game and his remarks afterwards, which increased tensions ahead of Charlton's match with Portsmouth today. Curbishley intimated that Harry Redknapp's Pompey revival has been "lucky".

"It does help when you spend £10m," Curbishley said. "Have a look at West Brom and Birmingham, at what they spend, and they weren't that lucky. That sometimes is a big thing. He couldn't quite do it at Southampton."

The FA will not be amused either, as Curbishley followed up complaints about the drawn-out England selection process with a barbed comment about the fixture pile-up which is forcing managers to field weakened sides. "If the FA want FA Cup quarter-finals on Monday when they are asking teams to play on a Saturday then it is very difficult," he said.

"This is as wound-up as I've been," added the manager, who uncharacteristically struck the ball at Fulham's Steed Malbranque at one stage. "I desperately wanted to win and I want to get in that top 10."

The big question is whether he wants that to enhance his international credentials from outsider to contender or finishing in the top 10 with Charlton is truly his heart's desire. The second goal is innately linked to the first so it is difficult to imagine that the England job is not occupying his thoughts. At any rate, Charlton's failure against a determined but limited Fulham team, who were indebted to their goalkeeper Antti Niemi, has not helped his cause.

Charlton's defending was often disorganised, contributing to Luis Boa Morte's decisive goals. The first was a free-kick that went in because of Charlton's anticipation of a cross rather than a shot. The second involved a sea of red shirts parting to allow Boa Morte to run almost the length of their half and slot in the winner, a quick riposte to Jason Euell's headed equaliser.

Boa Morte's presence symbolises the strides Fulham have made since banishing their relegation fears.

"In years gone by we were accused of selling our better players," said Fulham's assistant manager, Steve Kean. "We're hopeful that in the next couple of seasons we can invest a little bit more in the squad and become an established top 10 club."

That is an aim Charlton are accustomed to. If Curbishley achieves it this season, it may just end his stay at The Valley. And he knows it.

Goals: Boa Morte (15) 1-0; Euell (26) 1-1; Boa Morte (30) 2-1.

Fulham (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Bridge; Boa Morte, Diop, Elliott (Christanval, 62), Malbranque; Helguson, McBride. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Volz, Radzinski, John.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Myhre; Spector, Sorondo, Perry, Hreidarsson; Kishishev (Thomas, 60), Holland (Bothroyd, 79), Euell, Ambrose; M Bent, D Bent. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Powell, Sankofa.

Referee: M Atkinson (Yorkshire).

Man of the match: Boa Morte.

Attendance: 19,146.

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