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22:00 21st June 2012
By  Will Pallot

Charlton Athletic 5-4 Cardiff City



City fell to their third successive away defeat in a bizarre match at The Valley, letting a two goal lead slip before almost completing a late fight back of their own in the capital.


Heidar Helgusonhad headed the Bluebirds into an early lead, flicking Peter Whittingham’s in-swinging delivery into the far corner.

And twenty minutes later, City made it two. This time Whittingham’s delivery was headed against the bar by Turner after a Hudson flick on.Joe Masoncapitalised on the subsequent goal mouth scramble, powering the ball past the helpless Hamer.  


Charlton pulled one back after a mistake by David Marshall. City’s number one mis-punched a high, looping cross straight to the feet of the home skipper Johnnie Jackson, who powered the ball in to the top corner. And just minutes later Jackson made it two, heading home unmarked from a corner kick on the stroke of half time.


Three Charlton goals in the second half seemed to take the game away from the Bluebirds. Dale Stephens inadvertently caught Marshall off his line from a long range free kick before Danny Haynes and Rob Hulse both headed home with the City defence in disarray.      


However, the Bluebirds replied with two injury time goals – giving the score line a very different look. FirstCraig Noonerounded the goalkeeper and finished, before Aron Gunnarsson capitalised on a Rudy Gestede knock down to complete the scoring at 5-4. 



Chronological report


City kicked off at the Valley with a team set up to attack as Malky Mackay handed a first competitive start to young Fulham loanee Kerim Frei.  But it was the man on the other wing who would have the first chance for the Bluebirds. Craig Noone’s effort from the right was palmed out for a corner by Charlton’s Ben Hamer, after some good work by Peter Whittingham on the opposite flank. However, from the resulting corner City launched themselves into an early lead – Heidar Helguson’s flicked header from Whittingham’s in-swinging delivery nestling in the far corner.


GOAL: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0 – 1 CARDIFF CITY (Heidar Helguson 4 mins)


Charlton looked to respond quickly but City remained solid, preventing them from getting an early foothold in the game. Danny Haynes, deployed on the right wing by Addicks boss Chris Powell, looked as if he could cause some problems for the visiting side early on. But, at the other end, Craig Noone then expertly picked out Ben Turner with a cross from the right flank. Big Ben guided his header back across goal, but the ball failed to fall to a blue shirt


Charlton’s first half-chance of the match came from a dangerous in-swinging free kick by midfielder Dale Stephens. David Marshall, who was unlucky not to score in his previous match at Bolton, was on hand to gather comfortably though. Meanwhile Kerim Frei was justifying Mackay’s faith in him early on, causing real problems down the left wing. City threatened once more after one trademark, mazy run, but Noone’s subsequent shot rebounded off his own man.  


Just moments later, City grabbed a second. With the travelling faithful in full voice, another Whittingham corner wasn’t dealt with by the home side. Hudson rose at the near post this time, flicking it on to Turner whose header looped on to the bar. In a classic goal mouth scramble the Bluebirds would have been cursing their luck as the ball would not find the back of the net until Joe Mason flew in and powered the ball past the stranded goalkeeper.




Haynes was the liveliest of the Charlton attackers in the first half, and he forced one of a succession of corners as Hudson cleared his cross well. All of these corners were dealt with by the City back line, however, helped by the defensive capabilities of goal scorer Heidar Helguson on more than one occasion.


But the Addicks were to pull one back with 5 minutes of the half remaining. Marshall failed to deal with a high, looping cross from the right, flapping the ball out to the edge of the box. And the ball fell to the feet of home skipper Johnnie Jackson, who powered the ball into the top corner as City’s number 1 failed to get back in time.


GOAL: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1 – 2 CARDIFF CITY (Johnnie Jackson 39 mins)


City had what seemed would be the final chance of the half, as Heidar Helguson’s free header six yards out went wide of the post. But the Bluebirds were made to pay for their wastefulness, and had Ben Turner to thank as he cleared a Rob Hulse shot off the line after the lone striker had rounded the keeper. But Charlton soon completed the comeback – drawing level from the resulting corner as Johnnie Jackson scored his second of the night, powering his header into the net.


GOAL: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2 – 2 CARDIFF CITY (Johnnie Jackson 45 mins)




Peter Whittingham, whose deliveries set up both first half goals, was first to threaten after five minutes of the second half. After good work by youngsters Joe Mason and Kerim Frei, Whittingham's effort from the edge of the box was deflected wide. From the resulting corner kick the City’s playmaker clipped the top of the bar with another dangerous delivery.


The match was becoming end to end, however, and Charlton punished the Bluebirds in their next venture into their half. The Addicks were awarded a free kick ten yards inside the City half on the left hand side which Dale Stephens took right footed. His looping delivery in to the box had Marshall backtracking and flew over the Scotsman into the top corner, giving the home side the lead in spectacular fashion.


GOAL: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 3 – 2 CARDIFF CITY (Dale Stephens 54 mins)


The momentum had swung well and truly in favour of the Addicks, who were putting Cardiff to the sword with their clinical finishing, seeming to take every chance that came their way. Danny Haynes was next on the score sheet. As the home side flooded men forward, a perfect cross from the right hand side found the speedy forward 6 yards out. And he made no mistake, placing his header past Marshall to make it 4.




The Bluebirds were making far too many mistakes in dangerous areas of the pitch, undoing all of the good attacking work of the first quarter of the game. Charlton capitalised on these defensive errors time after time as the match slipped away from the visiting team. Rob Hulse, on loan to the Addicks from QPR, rubbed salt in City’s wounds – adding a fifth with his head as the defence were nowhere to be seen.   




Substitution Cardiff: Gunnarsson on for Cowie & Kim on for Frei (65 mins)


Substitution Charlton: Wright-Phillips on for Haynes (68 mins)


Substitution Cardiff: Gestede on for Helguson (72 mins)


City were left shell shocked by the dramatic turnaround in the game, unsure of whether to commit men forward or to adopt a policy of damage limitation. Joe Mason and Craig Noone continued to break well down the wings but Charlton found gaps in the defence every time they attacked, and could have scored more.


Substitution Charlton: Hollands on for Stephens (90 mins)


Cardiff, on the other hand, seemed to be resigned to the fact that this was to be another away defeat but, after a late effort from Taylor flew just wide, they pulled one back through Craig Noone – the winger rounding the goalkeeper before finishing calmly in front of the visiting support.




And the match reached an unexpected late climax as City grabbed another goal to bring them within touching distance. With the Charlton defence looking ragged, a long ball was headed down by Rudy Gestede in to the path of Aron Gunnarsson who dispatched it into the back of the net from the edge of the box.


GOAL: CHARLTON ATHLETIC 5-4 CARDIFF CITY (Aron Gunnarsson  90+ mins)


Despite a couple of late free kicks and some aerial tennis in the Charlton box, City were unable to grab a late equaliser in an amazing climax at The Valley, leaving the final score at 5-4 to the home side.