Football: Goater Opens Up the Class Divide ; Charlton Athletic 0 Manchester City 1 Goater 48 Half- Time: 0-0 Attendance: 20,043
Atkin, Ronald, The Independent (London, England)
A MANCHESTER CITY team whom their manager, Joe Royle, described as "down to the bare bones" because of illness and injury, showed their pedigree for the Premiership by fighting off - sometimes literally - the energetic challenge of Charlton to confirm they are worthy leaders of the First Division. Victory for Charlton would have taken them above City into top spot, so there could have been no more pressing incentive to please a sold-out stadium. However, once Sean Goater's header sent Manchester ahead a couple of minutes into the second half they indicated clear intent to hang out the "closed" sign.
This is a club, according to the reliable Royle's statistic, who have lost only six of their 50 games since last December, and it was easy to believe. Nick Weaver's excellence in goal complemented an uncompromising defence which denied Charlton, by means fair and foul, to extend an unbeaten run to nine games.
The complacent referee, Roger Furnandiz, appeared set on getting through the 90 minutes without reaching for his book and failed to bear down on some thunderous City challenges which left the striker Clive Mendonca, in particular, battered and limping. The official had no option but to show yellow cards to Kevin Horlock and John Robinson late in the second half when they flailed at each other at the height of Charlton's attacking frustration. Not before time.
Both managers were disparaging about the refereeing, but Alan Curbishley had more cause on his team's behalf. "It was a tough, physical game, which I expected," he said. "No complaints about that, but not to offer protection is wrong. Not being punished allows a player to carry on doing it, whereas if he gets booked he is on his guard. Not to book anyone in the first half beggared belief."
Against a more whistle-happy referee it is likely that City's Dutch centre- back Gerard Wiekens would not have lasted until the interval. "How many more times?" bellowed a Charlton fan as Wiekens clattered Mendonca from behind for the umpteenth foul which did not even draw a word of caution. …