Goalscorers: Andy Cole 25, 84, Darren Bent 36, Trevor Sinclair 37, Joey Barton 69, Jay Bothroyd 73, Darius Vassell 79
Charlton Athletic: Dean Kiely, Hermann Hreidarsson, Chris Perry, Jonathan Spector, Luke Young, Matt Holland (Jerome Thomas 45), Alexei Smertin, Danny Murphy, Darren Ambrose (Bryan Hughes 81), Darren Bent, Jonatan Johansson (Jay Bothroyd 53)
Manchester City: David James, Sylvain Distin, Richard Dunne, David Sommeil, Ben Thatcher, Sun Jihai, Joey Barton, Claudio Reyna (Stephen Ireland 86), Trevor Sinclair (Lee Croft 86), Andy Cole (Bradley Wright-Phillips 86), Darius Vassell
Referee: Phil Dowd, Attendance: 25,289
After a strong start to the 2005-2006 Premier League season, Charlton Athletic were going through a trough. They had lost their last four matches and slipped into the bottom half of the table, having been as high as second in late September. They welcomed Manchester City to The Valley in early December, who had experienced their own difficult period, with just one point gained from three matches.
Stuart Pearce made five changes to his starting line-up from their previous match and his tactics worked. They were completely dominant in the first 25 minutes and opened the scoring through Andy Cole. Sylvain Distin’s clearing header effectively turned into an assist. Darius Vassell did the hard work, teasing the Charlton central defenders and Cole raced onto the loose ball and found the back of the net with the outside of his right foot. It ended their goalless run that had stretched 250 minutes.
Charlton were being overrun but did find a surprising equaliser on 36 minutes. Darren Bent got in behind the City backline to find the back of the net with a neat volley from a rather hopeful pass by Luke Young. However, their parity didn’t last long. Just over 60 seconds later, the visitors were back infront. Cole held up play superbly and found Trevor Sinclair. The midfielder held off the attentions of Jonathan Spector and drilled a powerful shot across Dean Kiely’s bows to restore the Citizens’ advantage.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Hermann Hreidarsson unnecessarily grappled with Vassell in the penalty area. Phil Dowd spotted the infringement and gave the penalty. Joey Barton’s penalty was poor and Kiely guessed right to save it. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, Barton was fastest to the rebound and ensured Pearce’s side established a two-goal lead they could defend.
In a see-saw contest, Charlton once again gave themselves hope when Jay Bothroyd struck on 73 minutes, 20 minutes after his arrival from the substitutes bench. Danny Murphy rolled a free-kick into his path and his shot was too powerful for David James to stop.
However, Pearce’s lively side took the game away from Charlton in the last 11 minutes. Cole played Vassell through and the former Aston Villa man showed his speed to beat Kiely in a one-on-one situation. There was still time with six minutes to go for Cole to get his second of the afternoon. Barton punted a ball up the field and Chris Perry’s dreadful backward header allowed the predatory forward to get in-between the former Wimbledon defender and Kiely to add another goal to his collection.
Manchester City won this game but they finished two places below Charlton in the final standings.