Slack defence forces loss for Newcastle against Charlton

If Martin O’Neill is to become the next manager of Newcastle, his first task will be to sort out the poor defending that continues to blight the club.

Charlton 3 Newcastle 1

If Martin O’Neill is to become the next manager of Newcastle, his first task will be to sort out the poor defending that continues to blight the club.

Slack play at the back contributed to this defeat at Charlton – the Magpies’ fourth in a row – which ended Newcastle’s nine-match unbeaten sequence against the London club.

Scott Parker’s brilliant 35th-minute equaliser to silence the boos of his former supporters was one of the few bright spots for the Magpies, who were sunk by Darren Bent’s 23rd-minute penalty, a freak own goal from Lee Bowyer and a late header from substitute Jay Bothroyd.

It was even start to the match, but the Magpies had the first serious attempt on goal in the fifth minute.

Alan Shearer played a one-two with Shola Ameobi that ended with the lanky forward firing a 20-yard shot that home goalkeeper Thomas Myhre spilled but was able to claim at the second attempt.

Charlton, however, created the first clear opportunity of the game – and it was much-maligned Jean-Alain Boumsong, back in the team after suspension, whose mistake in the 11th minute almost let them in.

The French centre-back failed to cut out the excellent Radostin Kishishev’s angled pass from inside his own half, allowing Darren Bent to race into the box and hit a left-foot shot that Newcastle keeper Shay Given did well to save with his legs and divert behind for a corner.

Against the run of play, Charlton won a penalty in the 23rd minute after Craig Moore – making his first start of an injury-blighted season after joining from Rangers last summer – was adjudged to have brought down Jerome Thomas, and Darren Bent struck his 20th goal of the season into the bottom-left corner from the spot.

The goal lifted Charlton’s confidence visibly, but Newcastle proved they could still threaten in attack in the 32nd minute.

Nolberto Solano found Stephen Carr on the right, and the Peruvian timed his run perfectly to collect Carr’s low cross inside the penalty area – but could only guide an angled shot wide of the left post.

Former Charlton player Parker – who had been booed throughout the first half - then silenced his detractors with an exhilarating strike in the 35th minute.

Collecting Shearer’s square pass from the left, Parker hit a perfect shot into the Charlton top-right corner from 30 yards before racing the length of the field to celebrate in front of the Newcastle fans.

But the delight was short-lived, as Charlton regained the lead in bizarre fashion 60 seconds later.

After Hermann Hreidarsson had won Chris Perry’s free-kick in the air, Moore whacked his clearance against the back-tracking Bowyer, who could only watch in horror as the ball cannoned into his own net from six yards.

Dyer was brought on in place of Solano for the second half, and was involved quickly, setting up Parker for a 25-yard shot that went high and wide.

The match continued to produce plenty of chances. In the 48th minute, Boumsong could only head Bryan Hughes’ left-wing corner to Marcus Bent at the far post, and Given was forced to make another brave stop to keep out the hard-working striker.

Dyer looked lively in the early stages of the second period, and in the 50th minute he set up Bowyer for a 15-yard effort that Hughes did superbly to block, before a deflection took the sting out of Ameobi’s follow-up strike and Myhre claimed with ease.

Roeder’s men came even closer to levelling for a second time in the 54th minute. Myhre could only push away Emre’s low 25-yard shot, and when Shearer turned the ball back into the centre Perry put an attempted clearance inches wide of his own post.

Dyer had added verve to Newcastle’s attack, and he was only narrowly offside in the 60th minute when he ran onto Emre’s reverse pass and shot against the outstretched leg of Myhre.

Newcastle were enjoying most of the possession, but Marcus Bent missed a fantastic chance to put Charlton two goals clear in the 62nd minute.

Bent beat the visitors’ offside trap and controlled Holland’s lofted pass on his chest, but he somehow steered well wide of the left post with only Given to beat.

Alan Curbishley’s team continued to attack in the final phase of the match, and scored their third when substitute Jay Bothroyd – with his first touch - headed in a near-post cross from fellow sub Dennis Rommedahl two minutes from full-time.

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