Wed, Dec 22, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Fulham gives Charlton early Christmas present

BELOW PAR Fulham, hovering only four points above the relegation zone, had a lackluster game and Charlton held onto their lead to go home seventh in the league

AFP , LONDON

Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar can only get his fingertips to a Talal El Karkouri (out of frame) header that finds the back of the net for Charlton Athletic's second goal at The Valley, southeast London, on Monday.

PHOTO: EPA

Charlton headed into the Christmas period seventh in the Premiership table after a 2-1 win against London rivals Fulham at The Valley on Monday.

Jerome Thomas delighted the home crowd by putting Alan Curbishley's under-rated side 1-0 up in the opening period before a second-half header from Moroccan Talal El Karkouri doubled the Addicks' lead.

But, with eight minutes left, Fulham pulled a goal back through Tomasz Radzinski.

Charlton though hung on for a third straight league win.

Defeat left Fulham, who drew 1-1 against Manchester United last time out, just four points above the relegation zone in 15th place.

Afterwards, a relieved Curbishley told Sky Sports: "I was hanging on a bit at the end, a bit like our fans. We could have made it easier for ourselves but we've got the win and that's the most important thing."

Fulham boss Chris Coleman had no complaints about the result. "We didn't have an end product in the first 45 minutes and at the start of the second half it looked like we were the team defending a 1-0 lead because of the way they came at us. In all honesty we didn't deserve to get anything," he said.

The match had only been underway for a few minutes when referee Steve Bennett was forced to stop the game following a clash of heads between Charlton's Danny Murphy and Fulham's Carlos Bocanegra.

Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole thought he'd put Fulham 1-0 up after 15 minutes with a well-taken finish but his effort was disallowed for offside.

At the other end giant Fulham keeper Edwin van der Sar did well to stop El Karkouri's strong header from a corner.

In the 23rd minute, El Karkouri brought down Cole on the left edge of the area but the free-kick ended with Mark Pembridge driving the ball into the Charlton wall.

Four minutes later Charlton had the lead. Murphy passed to Shaun Bartlett, out on the right, and the South African's cross was turned in by winger Thomas from six yards.

Just after the hour mark former Liverpool midfielder Murphy almost made it 2-0 when, after a mazey run had transfixed the Fulham defense, his shot from inside the box unluckily bouncing off the far post with Van der Sar beaten.

But in the 66th minute Charlton did have their second goal.

Fulham defender Leroy Rose-nior was booked for pulling back Thomas and from the resulting free-kick El Karkouri's flick onto Murphy's whipped-in center just had enough on it, Dutch international Van der Sar getting a hand to the ball but unable to palm it away.

Then a defensive mix-up with some 20 minutes remaining almost let Cole in but he wastefully shot into the side-netting with Charlton keeper Dean Kiely out of position.

In the 79th minute El Karkouri conceded a free-kick in a central spot just outside the Charlton box but Papa Bouba Diop, who scored a spectacular equalizer against Manchester United, saw his strike clip the top of the crossbar although Kiely appeared to have it covered.

However, former Everton striker Radzinski then gave Fulham an 82nd minute lifeline when, after Brian McBride's header from a corner had been blocked on the line, he pounced on the loose ball to score from barely a yard out.

Charlton striker Francis Jeffers could have settled the game two minutes from time but from just a few yards out he failed to make proper contact with Paul Konchesky's dangerous left-wing cross.

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