Charlton Athletic 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Last updated : 10 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Charlton Athletic kept up their challenge for a European place with a 2-0 victory over bottom of the Premiership Wolverhampton Wanderers at The Valley, but their performance was less than convincing at times The result kept the Londoners in fourth position and they completed the double over Wolves who they beat 4-0 at Molineux earlier in the season.

The Wolves will have to buck the trend if they are to survive in their first season back in the top flight.

No team at the bottom of the league at Christmas has so far stayed up and Wolves had failed to win in 13 away games before this match, were without an away win this season and had taken only two points from a possible 30 on their travels - the main reason why they are marooned at the foot of the table and now seven points from possible safety.

Certainly in the second half this game Wolves showed they still have the battling qualities to make a fight of it.

Trailing 1-0 at the break they rolled their sleeves up in the second 45 minutes and dominated the game, but once again they couldn't find the net and the fact that one of their midfield players, Alex Rae, is their leading scorer with eight goals showed where their problems lie.

Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely, who had a nightmare performance in the FA Cup against Gillingham last week, redeemed himself with some fine saves to deny the visitors in the second half.

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley said that Wolves had played better than their league s position suggested.

"They gave us as good a game as any team that has been here this season. It was certainly a game of two halves, we did well in the first and they were the better team in the second, but it's been a great holiday period for us and we are all delighted.

"We looked tired in the second half and need a bit of a rest now, obviously we want to keep in the top six but we know that two of the bigger clubs, Liverpool and Newcastle, are chasing us hard." Wolves manager Dave Jones who attended the match despite suffering from the flu virus said that when you are at the bottom it can be a cruel game.

"We thought their first goal was offside and that changed the game in what was a fairly even match.

"We camped in their half after the interval, but unless you put the ball in the net you are never going to get a result.

"I can't fault the players for their effort and determination and we don't get enough credit for the football we play, but I would rather perform badly and get some sort of win, especially away from home." Wolves could have taken the lead after just six minutes when striker Nathan Blake saw his close-range header brilliantly turned away Charlton keeper Kiely.

Charlton then created some excellent chances of their own with Jason Euell heading over the bar and Jonatan Johansson then screwed a clear cut chance across the face of the goal.

Charlton took the lead on 38 minutes when Paolo Di Canio released Euell to beat the offside trap and fire the home side in front.

Charlton struggled to get their game together after the break and were fortunate when Henri Camara saw an effort cleared off the line by Mark Fish, while Kiely produced another two excellent saves to deny former Charlton players Shaun Newton and Blake.

Charlton got their second goal on the break when Di Canio this time set up Scott Parker.

His shot beat goalkeeper Michael Oakes and although Denis Irwin cleared the effort of the line it hit Euell and rebounded into the net to give the Charlton player the chance for a further celebration on his 100th appearance at the club.