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Charlton 2 Leicester City 1

Posted: Tue 21 Aug 2012
Author: Gary Haines
Yann Kermorgant

Yann Kermorgant

Image by: Keith Gillard

A comprehensive match report from the Addicks' victory over Leicester on Tuesday evening

Gary Haines reports from The Valley

Yann Kermorgant was on target against his former club as Charlton sealed their first win back in the Championship against Leicester City on Tuesday.

The Frenchman and strike partner Bradley Wright-Phillips struck in the first period, laying the foundations for Chris Powell to beat his managerial mentor Nigel Pearson on a pulsating night at The Valley.

Substitute Andy King pulled a goal back for the Foxes early in the second period but the Addicks dug in after that to cling on for a precious three points.

They rode their luck at times, boy did they ride their luck, but having been struck with a late sucker-punch at Birmingham City on their second tier return on Saturday, nobody could begrudge them three points here.

There were sub-plots aplenty going into this game with Powell taking charge against the club that gave him his managerial chance, but it was striker Kermorgant that would be the match-winner. 

The big Frenchman, vilified by the Foxes fans following a fluffed penalty in the 2010 Championship play-off semi final – his last touch of the ball in his time at the club – gained retribution in some style.

He lashed home a shot with real venom, and then celebrated with a shush sign towards the leering away end as the SE7 faithful rejoiced.

Kermorgant only ever managed one goal for Leicester in the Championship but his second will be remembered for life by a man as revered in these parts as he was ridiculed in the East Midlands.

Strike partner Wright-Phillips also got off the mark with a blistering drive past Kasper Schmeichel, the Addicks showing a welcome ruthless streak in front of goal when it mattered, while sub King swept Leicester back into the game early in the second period.

A third ex-Fox, Michael Morrison was in outstanding in the home rearguard throughout, however, and the backline – and those in front of them worked tirelessly to try and hang onto the lead.

Bradley Pritchard, holding his own in the Championship little more than a season after playing in the Blue Square Premier, ran himself into the ground.

They might have surrendered the lead in stoppage time again had Jamie Vardy not put an injury-time free header straight at an assured Ben Hamer who had earlier brilliantly denied Lloyd Dyer.

And the roar at the final whistle was almost as loud as the one that greeted the goals as the Addicks moved into third place in the fledgling table.

In a pulsating first half the Addicks grabbed a two-goal lead thanks to their strike duo.

Leicester had looked menacing in the early stages with the pacy Jamie Vardy posing problems up front.

There were plenty of dangerous moments as the Addicks rode their luck, although clear cut chances were at a premium. Then, having weathered the storm and worked tirelessly to do that, they were on the crest of a wave at the interval.

Perhaps spurred on by the news striker Ricardo Fuller had joined the club as the match was taken place as a free agent, the front duo produced two electrifying finishes.

First Wright-Phillips collected a pass from Pritchard in the 18th minute and crunched a low shot into the bottom left corner.

Then Kermorgant doubled the tally against his former club, smashing home a half-volley from the edge of the box two minutes after the half hour mark.

The game settled down after that although Leicester were still a threat on the break.

They pulled a goal back nine minutes into the second half as substitute King struck to set up a right royal finale.

And all the chances went the way of the Foxes after that, although they could not find a leveller leaving the hosts to continue their unbeaten start to life back in the second tier.

Olympics? What Olympics.

In terms of team news it came as no major surprise that Powell pitched in an unchanged starting XI following the creditable opening day draw at Birmingham City at the weekend.

The Addicks were less than a minute away from a famous victory at St Andrews thanks to a header from Leon Cort, with Nikola Zigic rescuing a point deep into stoppage time.

But Powell’s men could take plenty of heart from the outing and went in search of further progress against a club close to the gaffer’s heart.

Leicester is where Powell’s playing career ended and a new career in coaching started, both under the stewardship of current Foxes boss Pearson.

And Powell even bossed the Midland club on a caretaker basis before the appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson.

Former Foxes Morrison and Kermorgant were in the starting line-up for the Addicks, the former starting a 50th game for the club.

Hamer was in goal for the hosts ahead of an unchanged backline of full-backs Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins and central pairing Morrison and Cort, whose first goal for the club opened the scoring at the weekend.

Danny Hollands and Dale Stephens were in the middle of the park with skipper Johnnie Jackson and Pritchard supplying the width.

Kermorgant, whose last game in the Foxes first team was the 2010 Championship play-off semi-final against Cardiff City, was alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips up front.

John Sullivan was joined on the bench by Matt Taylor, Lawrie Wilson, Salim Kerkar, Danny Green, Jordan Cook and Michael Smith.

The visitors, who beat Peterborough 2-0 at the weekend, fielded dangerman Jermaine Beckford alongside former Fleetwood Town man Jamie Vardy.

There was danger from out wide in the shape of Lloyd Dyer and Ben Marshall with former Manchester United youngsters Matty James and Danny Drinkwater were in the engine room.

Former Addick Paul Konchesky was at left-back with Schmeichel between the posts.

In a frantic opening, there were early shouts for a home penalty after Liam Moore challenged Morrison when Jackson’s free-kick from the right bypassed Stephens and was collected by the defender.

And at the other end Vardy got away from Cort and veered in from the left before his shot was blocked by a combination of Morrison and the back-tracking defender.

Morrison then blocked Drinkwater’s follow-up as the Foxes midfielder instantly lashed the ball back goalwards.

After seven minutes the Addicks were opened up again – Leicester having more joy in the opening stanza than Birmingham did in the whole game at the weekend – but after a steadying touch Lloyd Dyer sliced his shot well wide.

It was a presentable opening for the visitors and at the other end Morrison’s neat header teed up Pritchard on the right, and his angled drive was palmed round the post by Schmeichel for a corner.

The visitors were looking a real threat on the break and Vardy chased what looked to be a lost cause on the quarter hour, his electric pace almost seeing him latch onto a Drinkwater pass.

Hamer was quickly out to smother, although the clearance was far from convincing with the hosts struggling to settle.

But settle down they did in the 18th minute as Wright-Phillips opened his account for the season.

The hosts had craved a patient period of possession, a breather if you like, and they got it as Pritchard fed Wright-Phillips on the right edge of the box and, quick as you like, the striker flashed a low shot past Schmeichel and into the bottom left corner of the net.

It was just what the doctor ordered – well Powell can now call himself that after his honorary doctorate – and The Valley erupted.

Cort’s back-post header from a Stephens corner was saved by the visiting keeper and Wright-Phillips chased a Stephens pass down the right, as others gave up on it, and the Foxes keeper cut off the angle and blocked the ball behind.

Drinkwater, who together with James, was proving a real nuisance in the midfield, volleyed through a sea of players and wide after a corner spun out.

But for all their angst in the opening half hour or so, the hosts were in dreamland as Kermorgant doubled their lead on 32 minutes.

After the ball was switched across from the left, the big Frenchman, well-placed on the edge of the box, dispatched a crisp, clinical shot into the back of the net, just like his strike partner had done earlier.

This was special though, after all the striker’s trauma towards the end of his time in the East Midlands and he put his fingers to his lips to silence the away end.

This was all Powell could have dreamed of at this stage, and more, and Wiggins showed supreme skill to outwit Beckford on the left before teeing up Kermorgant whose firs-time sharp-shot on the turn was well saved by Schmeichel.

The Foxes threatened as the half came to a close with speed-merchant Vardy showing the electric Wiggins a clean pair of heels and feeding Beckford who cut inside and fired across goal and wide.

That came five minutes before the break and a minute later Konchesky powered down the left in trademark fashion before crashing a cross-cum-shot inches wide of the right post with Vardy a bootlace away from connecting in the middle.

The clock was eaten up at the end of the half as Beckford ballooned an effort high over the bar and just after the speedy Vardy crashed against the advertising hoarding – thankfully he was able to resume – the whistle blew for half-time.

The Addicks were flying as they went in at the break, but it was just half the job done.

The evening got even better at the break when striker Ricardo Fuller was unveiled as the club’s fifth summer signing.

Leicester boss Pearson reacted at the break with a double change as weekend scorer King came on for James and former England man David Nugent replacing Beckford.

Two minutes after the break a foul on Kermorgant saw the hosts awarded a free-kick in Jackson territory.

There was plenty of whip on the set-piece but Schmeichel sprung to his left to clutch the ball as it headed towards the top-corner.

Nugent’s shot from range was deflected over the bar but the visitors got back in the game through their other substitute nine minutes in.

It was a simple move too as Marshall exchanged passes on the right and pulled the ball back for King to confidently turn home from close range.

The pressure was back on, but Charlton almost regained their lead two minutes later as Wright-Phillips and then Kermorgant engaged in a spot of ball juggling before Wright-Phillips sent the bobbling ball just wide of the right post.

Vardy headed a Ritchie De Laet cross over after a slick Leicester break with Schmeichel quickly off his line to avert the danger after a Stephens surge and a Jackson follow-up.

Wiggins blocked a Marshall effort and Nugent flashed a great chance wide on 63 minutes as the Foxes showed their teeth.

Pearson then made another change as Marshall made way for Anthony Knockaert and Leicester produced a lighting fast break from a Charlton corner midway through the half.

A huge throw from Schmeichel was controlled and fed into Dyer but Hamer was equal to the winger’s low shot.

Moments later King collected a Konchesky pass and his instinctive prod was held by Hamer.

The pressure was building and Hollands put just enough pressure on King with the midfielder skewing an effort over the bar.

After more slick interplay Knockaert saw his low effort saved by Hamer as anxious glances towards the clock saw at least 14 minutes still to play.

Crucial defensive efforts from Kermorgant and then Jackson quelled a corner and the loose ball, and Vardy’s header from a De Laet cross dropped well wide.

Stephens made way for Wilson nine minutes from time and after the restart a massive clearance from Schmeichel was headed wide by Nugent.

Jackson’s dipper flew narrowly off target but it was Leicester who continued to look the side most likely to score.

A slick 86th-minute move saw the Addicks carved open and Knockaert bobbed and weaved before finding Dyer whose shot was brilliantly saved by Hamer.

The substitute stumbled and then fell as he tried to latch on to the loose ball and the hosts were able to scramble clear.

Jackson made way for Kerkar as the armband switched to Hollands and a looping Vardy header from a hopeful pass forward looped over.

Cook came on for Wright-Phillips in the last regulation minute – before the board went up for four added minutes.

It was the exact same scenario as the weekend and Solly helped eke the clock down with a storming run own the right – after which he won a throw off Konchesky.

Powell was livid after a succession of strong challenges went unpunished in the third added minute and when play continued centre-back Wes Morgan sent in a great cross from the right and Vardy planted a free header straight at Hamer.

It was a golden chance, and the hosts breathed again, but there was more drams to come.

Cort flung himself at the ball to concede a last-gasp corner before which Morrison was ordered to leave the field with a blood injury.

By this stage Schmeichel was in the mix in the box as Powell did his crust on the bench.

The corner failed to beat the first defender and as it was scrambled out it was hoisted over, possibly by Drinkwater.

The goal-kick that resumed the game proved the last kick, and the Addicks – and Powell – were able to celebrate a winning return to Championship football at The Valley.

Charlton: Hamer; Solly, Wiggins, Morrison, Cort; Pritchard, Hollands, Stephens (Wilson 81), Jackson (Kerkar 87); Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips (Cook 90).

Subs (not used): Sullivan, Taylor, Green, Smith.

Goals: Wright-Phillips 18, Kermorgant 32

Leicester: Schmeichel; De Laet, Konchesky, Morgan, Moore; Marshall (Knockaert 64), Drinkwater, James (King 46), Dyer; Beckford (Nugent 46), Vardy.

Subs (not used): Logan, Knockaert, Danns, Waghorn, Schlupp.

Goals: King 54

Ref: F Graham

Att: 16,658 (1,628 Leicester)