Goals from Jerome Thomas and Talal El Karkouri helped Charlton move to seventh in the Premiership after they survived a late Fulham fightback to register a third straight win at the Valley this afternoon.
The Addicks were clearly the better side as Fulham followed their stirring display against Manchester United with an altogether flatter performance in this London derby. Charlton began brightly with Shaun Bartlett’s movement causing real problems for the Fulham backline. After Andy Cole had an opportunistic finish ruled out for offside, Edwin van der Sar saved smartly from El Karkouri and, on the balance of play, it wasn’t a surprise when Charlton took the lead in the 27th minute.
Bartlett was involved in the build up, first flicking on a high ball for Danny Murphy and then sending over a teasing cross that beat two defenders before dropping for Thomas at the back post. The young winger celebrated the new contract he signed earlier this week by prodding a clever finish past a stranded van der Sar to give the hosts the lead. Jonathan Fortune nearly bundled in a second as Hermann Hreidarsson’s flick flew across the penalty area right before half time, but Charlton had to settle for a one-goal advantage at the break.
Fulham showed a sense of adventure after the interval, with both full backs getting well forward. Liam Rosenior crossed from the right and Carlos Bocanegra almost nipped in to beat Dean Kiely beyond the back post but the Charlton goalkeeper was alive to the danger. The hosts replied with a well-worked set piece that saw Hreidarsson climb highest again at the near post and van der Sar had to block El Karkouri’s close range effort as the defender had crept away from his marker. Murphy nearly doubled the lead when he curled a lovely effort against the far post having tormented Ian Pearce on the edge of the box.
You could sense a second was coming and Charlton duly grabbed it after Rosenior had pulled down Thomas just outside the box. Murphy’s delivery was inviting and El Karkouri climbed above Brian McBride in the air to power a header past van der Sar.
Cole blew a glorious chance to halve Fulham’s arrears when he somehow missed the target altogether from eight yards out after a horrible mix-up in the Charlton defence, but the visitors did have a lifeline when substitute Tomasz Radzinski stabbed in from four yards after Kiely had kept out McBride’s header. But Fulham couldn’t muster another real opening and were left to reflect on what was a below-par performance.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-3-3): Kiely; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Fortune; Holland, Murphy, Kishishev; Thomas (Euell 88), Rommedahl (Konchesky 83), Bartlett (Jeffers 79). Subs (not used): Andersen, Hughes.
GOALS: Thomas (27), El Karkouri (66).
FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Rosenior, Bocanegra, Rehman, Pearce; Diop, Legwinski (John 73), Malbranque (Radzinski 63), Pembridge; Cole, McBride. Subs (not used): Flitney, Volz, Knight.
BOOKED: Diop, Rosenior.
GOAL: Radzinski (82).
REFEREE: Steve Bennett (Kent).