After three years of hiding, English football's fox showed once more what he can do in the box. Two goals for Francis Jeffers last night ensured the striker had a memorable full debut for Charlton. Five minutes, the time it took him to score his goals, was all he needed to start to erase the memory of his unhappy time at Arsenal.
Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, made only one change from the line-up that had registered its first win on Saturday. It saw Jeffers included at the expense of the injured Shaun Bartlett. The "fox in the box" is in his third hole in three years and Curbishley is the latest manager to put his faith in the Merseysider's goal-poaching abilities. That faith started to be repaid after 29 minutes.
Aston Villa's forward line-up was noteworthy as well, given the presence of Carlton Cole, on loan at Charlton last season only to abandon them in the summer for a season's loan with Villa. However, the predictable abuse from the home side did not stop him from looking a threat. With 17 minutes gone he slipped the offside trap and was only denied a shot by Dean Kiely coming quickly off his line.
By then Villa should have already taken the lead. With just six minutes gone Gavin McCann crossed from the right, Darius Vassell pounced but from six yards out the England striker smacked the crossbar.
It proved a costly error for, against the run of play, Jeffers, who cost £2.6m, scored his first goal in his new colours. Hermann Hreidarsson crossed from the left and although up against taller players, Jeffers outjumped the lot to head past Thomas Sorensen.
Five minutes later the former Evertonian was on a hat-trick. Radostin Kishishev hit a hopeful aerial pass that Olof Mellberg could only punt skywards and Jeffers was there to volley past the bemused Sorensen.
The two-goal lead could even have been doubled before the break but after Sorensen had showed Kevin Lisbie an open goal - the striker hitting the bar - the Dane atoned minutes later at Lisbie's feet with a brave save.
Things got worse for Villa and showed no signs of getting better as Sorensen, injured in his earlier collision with Lisbie, did not emerge for the second half, being replaced by Stefan Postma.
With his very first touch, from a corner, the Dutchman did not exactly inspire confidence, dropping the ball and after only 13 minutes on the field he was beaten. Mellberg deflected Mark Fish's pass into the path of Luke Young, who gleefully scored his first goal for Charlton on his 100th appearance.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, Fish, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl (Hughes, 82), Kishishev (El Karkouri, 78), Euell, Murphy; Lisbie, Jeffers (Konchesky, 78). Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Johansson.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen (Postma h-t); Delaney, Mellberg, Laursen, Samuel; Solano, McCann, Hitzlsperger, Barry; Vassell, Cole (Angel, 72). Substitutes not used: De la Cruz, Whittingham, Moore.
Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire).Reuse content