Charlton squandered the chance to move up to second in the Premiership table as Danny Murphy had to rescue a point against Fulham in an entertaining derby at the Valley.
Chris Coleman’s men didn’t look like a side who had lost three games in a row as they gave the high-flying Addicks a real run for their money. Collins John put Fulham in front with an excellent volley and, although they were on the back foot after Murphy levelled matters early in the second half, the visitors didn’t crumble and came away with a creditable point. Alan Curbishley rued his team’s poor finishing, particularly after Chris Perry wasted a free header late on.
Charlton made the first half’s clearest chance when Murphy produced a peach of pass to free Danish winger Dennis Rommendahl, who danced towards the penalty area before bending a brilliant effort against the post. The pair combined again a quarter of an hour later but this time Carlos Bocanegra was alive to the danger and made a splendid block.
Teenage striker John was asked to lead the line alone as Coleman sought to shore up Fulham’s midfield to prevent passes like Murphy’s from getting through as easily – but the switch in formation didn’t lead to the Cottagers shutting up shop with men behind the ball. John was a constant threat to the Charlton backline with his pace and movement, miscuing a shot wide when found by Moritz Volz and almost connecting with a Luis Boa Morte cross.
It was no surprise when the Dutch youth international opened the scoring on 28 minutes – but the goal was one of the highest quality. Steed Malbranque floated a fabulous cross in from right and John contorted his body to power a sweet volley beyond Stephan Andersen in the blink of an eye. Substitute Tomasz Radzinski could have doubled the lead but shot past the post after a clever free-kick caught Charlton cold.
The home side rallied before the break with Hermann Hredairsson narrowly off target with an impudent little flick. Curbishley’s team talk at half time would have implored his side to rediscover their fluency and it took just two minutes after the restart for the hosts to draw level. Murphy found the bottom left corner of the net after Fulham had failed to clear Chris Powell’s cross. Perry then spurned a great chance to win in from the England international’s free kick but Fulham more than merited their point.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-5-1): Andersen; Young, Perry, Hreidarsson, Powell; Rommedahl, Kishishev (El Karkouri 76), Murphy, Smertin (Hughes 82), Thomas (Bothroyd 59); Bent. Subs (not used): Myhre, Spector.
BOOKED: Kishishev, El Karkouri.
GOAL: Murphy (47).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Crossley; Volz, N. Jensen, Goma, Bocanegra; Christanval (Radzinski 35), Diop, C. Jensen; Malbranque, Boa Morte, John (McBride 78). Subs (not used): Warner, Rosenior, Helguson.
Subs Not Used: Warner, Helguson, Rosenior.
BOOKED: Christanval, Volz, Malbranque.
GOAL: John (28.
REFEREE: Mike Riley (West Yorkshire).