4th December 2005
In 2005, Stuart Pearce took his City side to The Valley to face fellow middle table opponents Charlton Athletic. The blues had won six of their fifteen games played so far but had been dumped out of the League Cup on penalties by the mighty Doncaster Rovers.
Charlton had won six of their first fifteen games and were just two points behind the blues at the start of the day, but the memories of City’s crushing 4-0 defeat on the opening day of the disastrous 2000/01 season were still fresh in the minds of the faithful.
City boasted a strike force of Darius Vassell and former United striker Andy Cole, and the two combined throughout the day to give City a fine victory.
In the 25th minute, Vassell controlled a long ball forward and played in his strike partner, who took a touch and found the net with a deft finish with the outside of his right foot, to score City’s third away goal of the season.
Charlton equalised on 36 minutes against the run of play. A long ball forward saw Darren Bent outmuscle Richard Dunne to fire home with a powerful strike. But the joy of the Charlton fans would be brief.
City went straight down the other end and regained the lead through Trevor Sinclair. The former Blackpool man outpaced the Charlton left back, collected Cole’s pass and fired home from a tight angle, to send City in 2-1 up at the break.
The blues continued the onslaught on the Charlton goal in the second half and deservedly increased their lead. The eagle-eyed referee, without VAR to back him up, spotted a pull on Vassell in the penalty area and pointed to the spot. Joey Barton assumed penalty taking responsibilities, but his spot-kick was saved by Dean Kiely. Fortunately for Barton, the rebound fell kindly for him and he fired into the bottom corner for 3-1.
Charlton tried to put up a fight and pulled another goal back on 73 minutes. A clever free kick on the edge of the City area saw Jay Boothroyd beat David James at his near post to give the home supporters hope. A hope that was snuffed out six minutes later.
City broke up a Charlton attack and Vassell beat the offside trap to calmly finish under the keeper to all but make the game safe, however the points were secured five minutes later. Cole capitalised on a poor defensive header and his first touch took him past the keeper, and the striker again finished with the outside of his right foot.
The result was City’s third away win of the season and helped them remain in eighth place, but they were well placed to challenge for a place in Europe.
Final Score: Charlton 2-5 Manchester City
Charlton: Kiely, Young, Perry, Hreidarsson, Spector, Johansson (Bothroyd 53), Smertin, Murphy, Holland (Thomas 45), Ambrose (Hughes 81), Bent.
Subs Not Used: Powell, Myhre.
Goals: Bent 36, Bothroyd 73.
Man City: James, Sommeil, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher, Sinclair (Croft 86), Barton, Reyna (Ireland 86), Jihai, Vassell, Cole (Wright-Phillips 86).
Subs Not Used: Sibierski, De Vlieger.
Goals: Cole 25, Sinclair 37, Barton 69, Vassell 79, Cole 84.