Sheffield United 2 Charlton Athletic 1: Blades expose Reed's odd logic

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The Independent Football

"Four home games." Les Reed, the Charlton Athletic manager, kept repeating these words in the wake of Saturday's dispiriting defeat to Sheffield United.

Ignore the breakaway goal created and finished by the south London club's one ray of light, Andy Reid, and this was just more of the same abysmal away form that has seen over 13 months pass since their last Premiership win outside SE7.

So small wonder that Reed is clinging to the hope of home comfort being provided by a succession of four fixtures out of the next six that will take place at The Valley. Blackburn, Liverpool, Fulham and Aston Villa are the visitors in a sequence before the January transfer window opens that Reed believes will play a huge part in determining Charlton's Premiership survival. How do you go about improving your away form? According to Reed, by improving your home form.

"We hope to be able to bring some players in come January but we've got four home games before then and we've got the squad that we've got and we have to show we can play," Reed said. "There's a certain lack of confidence away from home but that is because of where we are. We need to start by picking up points at home and that will lead to us carrying that confidence into games away from home.

Read added: "We have a lot of creative players who like to get the ball down and play." Yet the implication is that they are not so good when stopped from doing so.

That was certainly the story on Saturday, when United produced arguably their most complete display of the season to mark Neil Warnock's twin celebrations of his 58th birthday and seven years as manager.

They were undoubtedly worth the win, their second in five days against teams around them, even though it was midway through the second half before Chris Morgan headed the equaliser. Then came Keith Gillespie's breathtaking 88th-minute volley that took United out of the bottom three for the first time since late October.

"It's been a great weekend for me," Warnock said. "I'm very proud to be manager of these players and this club."

Goals: Reid (17) 0-1; Morgan (65) 1-1; Gillespie (88) 2-1.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Kozluk, Bromby, Morgan, Geary; Quinn (Kazim-Richards, 77), Jagielka, Montgomery, Gillespie; Hulse, Nade (Webber, 71). Substitutes not used: Sommeil, Lucketti, Law.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Carson; Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Traoré; Rommedahl (M Bent, 67), Holland, Faye (Sam, 90), Reid; Ambrose (Kishishev, 79); D Bent. Substitutes not used: Myhre (gk), Diawara.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Sheffield United Montgomery; Charlton Young.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 27,368.