Speed merchant Rommedahl runs low on composure

Charlton Athletic 0 - Southampton 0
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The Independent Football

Kelly Holmes was paraded before kick-off but the only player who could probably give the double Olympic champion a run for her money on the athletics track summed up the frustration of this fixture. Time and again Charlton's running man Dennis Rommedahl had the opportunity. Time and again he failed, and was substituted with 15 minutes to go. His delivery was worse than that of a stammerer with stage fright on first night.

He wasn't alone. His departure came just 15 minutes after this contest had finally come to life. Until then it was frustratingly disjointed with the speed of the outrageously fast Rommedahl the only hope. It was a vain one. "He is very pacey," said Charlton manager Alan Curbishley, "but we could not pass water today." Danny Murphy, in particular, came in for criticism. Just because he had made a big-money move from Liverpool, Curbishley said of his £3.5m signing, he was not guaranteed his place. It was withering and was meant to be. Too many players were "off-colour", Curbishley added. Off-colour? Anaemic more like.

He was the happier with the point. Steve Wigley, Southampton's new head coach, felt his side should have had all three. Of the two teams, the visitors shaded it for commitment alone although they also created more chances. The evening's best opportunity came from a Rory Delap snap shot, 15 yards out, which was smartly palmed over by Dean Kiely. The draw represented the first positive under Wigley, after two losses, and the prevention of a fifth successive away defeat for his club. "We had a game plan and stuck to it," he said. That may be a statement to sadden a few Southampton hearts.

Only at the end of the season will this be a point gained or two lost. Last night the crowd - who booed at half-time but were too comatose to do so by the end - were just left cold.

An early shot by Francis Jeffers and an effort by Rommedahl proved a deception as to what followed. Rommedahl easily out-stripped the stand-in full-back Darren Kenton but his crossing was maddening.

Wigley sent his players out early after the break for an exercise in passing. He said there was nothing unusual in that. Charlton should have joined them. A free-kick from Graeme Le Saux scuffed the turf, a half-volley from Kevin Phillips sailed over while, at the other end, Kevin Lisbie, criminally unmarked from a free-kick, headed into Antti Niemi's arms.

Then Anders Svensson miskicked and the ball ran to Delap who forced Kiely into his save. Southampton were firing and after Phillips had failed to either shoot or find a team-mate after rounding the goalkeeper Claus Lundekvam fluffed a header.

Charlton were holding on now as Southampton forced the pace. To cap it all a wayward backpass from Murphy had to be hacked away by Kiely. It summed up the night.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, Perry, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl (El Karkouri 75), Kishishev (Hughes 58), Murphy, Euell; Lisbie, Jeffers (Johansson 67). Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Konchesky.

Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi; Kenton (Nilsson 73), Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Le Saux; Fernandes (Crouch 84), Delap, A Svensson, Prutton; Phillips, Beattie. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Higginbotham, Best.

Referee: N Barry (Lincolnshire).