Stuart steals the spoils of Lua Lua

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The Independent Football

The West stand at St James' Park was in darkness for much of the match due to a power failure - a failure that character-ised Newcastle on the pitch, too. They lacked energy and creative spark, and although the arrival of their new "unique treasure" brought a little lustre to the gloom, Charlton's blanket defending snuffed out any hope.

The West stand at St James' Park was in darkness for much of the match due to a power failure - a failure that character-ised Newcastle on the pitch, too. They lacked energy and creative spark, and although the arrival of their new "unique treasure" brought a little lustre to the gloom, Charlton's blanket defending snuffed out any hope.

The lack of power meant there was no public address system but the whisper quickly spread through the crowd before kick-off that 19-year-old Lomana Tresor Lua Lua - his name in native Zaire means "unique treasure" - was on the bench after a £2.25m move from Colchester on Friday.

But not even his introduction on the hour could break Charlton's resolve, although their goalkeeper, Dean Kiely, had to ensure the win which lifted them into fifth place. In the fifth minute of injury time, Lua Lua cleverly kicked a curling cross to Alan Shearer and Kiely needed two attempts to grasp the header beneath the bar.

"The changes Bobby Robson made put us under a lot of pressure and we needed Dean to make a good save, but we deserved it," said Charlton's manager Alan Curbishley. "This is a fantastic position for us, but there are only seven games gone. If there were seven games left, I'd be delighted."

Mark Kinsella - Colchest-er's last record sale for £150,000 in 1996 - warned Newcastle they were vulnerable down the left after five minutes when his stinging 20-yard drive extended goalkeeper Shay Given fully. But they didn't learn. Three minutes later, John Robinson's near-post cross bounced so awkwardly in front of Given that it deceived Jonatan Johan-sson. However, Graham Stuart stooped to capitalise on the chaos and nod Charlton ahead.

Newcastle didn't test Kiely until the 36th minute, when he clawed away Nolberto Solano's shot, because they were so curiously ponderous. Carl Cort was deep and detached, Solano found no room on the right, and Daniel Cordone was wrong-footed on the left. Whenever Charlton mastered the offside rule, Newcastle shook. The visitors racked up five first-half corners - Newcastle managed none - and from the half-cleared second, Kinsella rattled the bar with a fine volley.

"The only disappointment in the first half was that we didn't come in two up, because I knew Bobby would make some changes," said Curbishley. These came in the 63rd minute after Newcastle, who couldn't have got any worse in the second half, hadn't got any better.

Boldly, Didier Domi came on to shore up the rearguard, Rob Lee's quick thinking arrived in the sluggish midfield and, to a fantastic reception, the unique treasure arrived to illuminate the attack. "We wasted 45 minutes of football and I've said enough to the players to hurt them and damage them," said Robson. "Lua Lua was a bright spot on a disappointing day."

Within five minutes of his arrival, brimming with confiden-ce, Lua Lua launched himself from deep on to what will be a trademark run. He twisted and turned Kinsella mercilessly and slipped forward to Shearer in the box. The former England captain felt he was felled but as he protested, Cort slammed in the loose ball. Controversially, the score was disallowed and penalty rejected.

Inspired by Lua Lua, Newcastle powered forward but Stuart, Claus Jensen and Kinsella stifled the midfield. With Kiely knitting together any holes in the defensive blanket, Charlton's first away win of the season was secured.

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