Charlton 0 Everton 0
Much-changed Charlton had to be content with a point against Everton this afternoon following a goalless draw at The Valley, but Addicks boss Alan Curbishley will know his men have to do better to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup next week.
With no Darren Bent to lead their attack – the England striker’s niggling ankle problem seeing him rested as a precaution ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Middlesbrough – the Addicks lacked any real bite.
Everton are anything but a soft touch any more in any case and battled hard to ensure Charlton had to work for a share of the spoils.
Indeed, had James Beattie’s superb effort in first-half stoppage time dipped under the crossbar rather than being pushed over by Thomas Myhre, Curbishley’s gamble on Grand National day could well have backfired.
As it was, a point apiece was about right, both sides now having secured their Barclays Premiership status for another season.
Charlton, though, still have much to play for – and will be out to ensure their campaign does not fade away when they travel to Teesside next week.
With The Valley basking in spring sunshine, it was a bright opening to this afternoon’s match but Charlton soon seemed content to try to hit both Marcus Bent, playing against his former club, and Jay Bothroyd with long balls from their own half.
The visitors were able to deal with most of the attacking threat which the Addicks threw at them, the match lacking any real spark.
And it was not until the 15th minute that the first decent chance was created.
Jason Euell darted into the Everton area and Joseph Yobo had to make a timely tackle to prevent the Charlton man getting a shot away.
David Moyes’ men, however, have proven in recent months they are made of stern stuff following an excellent recovery from their poor start to the season.
And as the half-hour mark approached, there was little to choose between the two mid-table sides.
A swirling free-kick from Mikel Arteta then had Myhre flapping at his far post, the Norwegian’s touch taking the ball away from the advancing Beattie.
Hermann Hreidarsson bundled over James McFadden 25 yards out on the right to hand Everton a free-kick in a dangerous area.
This time, however, Arteta’s delivery was poor, the ball crashing straight into the wall.
A calamitous misjudgement from Everton goalkeeper Richard Wright then almost handed Charlton the lead.
Matt Holland’s weighted flick into the penalty area should have been routinely collected, but the former England man was caught out by the high bounce.
The ball flew up and over his head, with Wright having to scamper backwards to claw it off the line.
In first-half stoppage time, McFadden knocked the ball down to Beattie, who was in a central position some 30 yards out.
The former Southampton striker smashed a superb half-volley goalwards, which Myhre had to tip over one-handed as it threatened to dip in.
It was Everton who were first to show after the restart, Tim Cahill firing the ball over following a knockdown from Beattie to the edge of the area.
On 52 minutes, space opened up for Bothroyd as he surged forwards, but the former Blackburn striker sent a low strike wide from 20 yards.
Although Charlton continued to press, too often the final choice of pass was poor.
There was a warning for the home side when McFadden latched onto a loose ball around the edge of the area and lashed a low strike just past Myhre’s right-hand post.
With 25 minutes left, Charlton made a double change. Bothroyd was replaced by Shaun Bartlett and Denmark winger Dennis Rommedahl came on for Radostin Kishishev.
Bent chased a flick-on into the danger area, but the ball was just too far ahead of him and Wright collected.
Everton defender Tony Hibbert then went sliding through the back of Jerome Thomas’ legs – and was somewhat fortunate to only be shown a yellow card by referee Peter Walton.
Rommedahl saw his goalbound strike headed clear by Alan Stubbs, before at the other end Leon Osman’s glancing header was just too high.
Charlton pressed during the closing stages and Bent almost snatched a dramatic winner but drove his close-range effort straight at the goalkeeper.
There was one final incident for the referee to deal with, showing McFadden a yellow card after he appeared to catch centre-back Gonzalo Sorondo in the face with his arm.