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Home comforts key for Charlton

ORGANISER: Charlton's Andre Bikey

AT LEAST those that made the trip to breezy south London went home with smiles on their faces after Charlton surprised the doubters with a 3-2 win over the bookmakers promotion favourites, Derby County on August 19.

While Derby may have the more famous manager in ex-England boss Steve McLaren and the bigger budget, their defeat showed that at the end of the day all that matters is what happens on the pitch.

County lost out on a return to the Premier League when they were beaten at Wembley by Queens Park Rangers in May, and many have wondered if their manager could get the best from his players after their disappointment.

On this showing he is struggling to, but luckily this league is a marathon, not a sprint. He admitted post match that it was natural for the players to struggle to get back to the heights of last season straight away, but they will need to, and quickly, if they are to create a real promotion push.

Both teams seemed determined to make life harder for themselves with some wayward passing by the home side and some poor distribution by visiting goalkeeper Lee Grant.

The game had looked theirs for the taking given that Charlton had only managed one point from their last four games against the Rams, so it was a slight surprise when the home side took the lead in the tenth minute though George Tucudean. It was a cheeky little effort that slid in at Grant's far post.

When Derby did attack they looked quick and strong, but they were up against Andre Bikey who seems to have brought some organisation to a defence that often struggled last season, but they levelled on the half hour mark through Jamie Ward after more impressive work from Craig Bryson.

Much to the away fans annoyance they couldn't keep it at 1-1 until the break with the Addicks getting a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

It was a bizarre situation as referee Michael Bull pointed to the spot, but didn't show either a yellow or red card to Richard Keogh after his foul on Tucudean. Yoni Buyens chipped the spot kick straight down the middle into the roof of the net and out of Grant's reach.

But it didn't take long for Charlton to increase their lead when Angolan international Igor Vetokele headed home substitute Lawrie Wilson's cross 15 minutes from time.

Derby looked dead and buried before Jamie Ward's second goal in the 85th minute set up a frantic finish. It came from a Nick Pope mistake, when he allowed the shot to go through his legs. Ward clearly likes playing against the Addicks as it was his sixth goal in four games against them.

With the clock ticking down, the visitors seemed more interested in pretty passing rather than getting the ball into the box where it needed to be.

It looked like they may get the point one minute into injury time when the lively Bryson was set up by Chris Martin, but his right-foot shot flew past the post.

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