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When Jimmy Armfield's Wanderers put Charlton to bed at Burnden

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Charlton Athletic were getting sick of the sight of Jimmy Armfield’ Wanderers when they visited Burnden Park on this day in 1973.

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Beaten 3-2 in the league in December and 4-0 after a replay in the FA Cup, the Londoners made a Tuesday night trip to the North West knowing their hosts were hunting for goals.

Only a 5-0 victory would put Bolton top of the table once again, a position they had occupied until a lacklustre 2-0 defeat against their main rivals Bournemouth at the weekend.

And though they didn’t quite manage that landslide, Burnden’s biggest home gate of the season to date, 18,146, enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining game played out on what Armfield later described a “potato patch of a pitch” under the floodlights.

Charlton had keeper Mick Kearns to thank for some fine saves to keep the scoreline respectable as Wanderers – buoyed by the return from injury of the in-form John Ritson – ran roughshod in the first half.

Paul Jones broke through after 25 minutes after a one-two with Ronnie Phillips but skimmed the post as he swept a shot towards goal.

Stuart Lee then missed an even easier chance when Peter Nicholson gave him an opening, and the youngster scooped his effort over the bar from 10 yards.

Bolton finally took the lead before half time when Alan Waldron’s precise chip sent Lee chasing and his low cross was thumped home by Phillips.

The second arrived somewhat fortuitously as Phillips’ corner was cleared to Jones, his speculative shot slipping through the grasp of keeper Kearns – who had been impeccable to that stage.

The non-stop attacking show was rewarded further on 68 minutes when Jones headed down from Phillips’ corner and Nicholson tucked his shot just inside the post.

Wanderers peppered the Charlton goal looking for the magical five that would ensure they hit top spot but were denied by Kearns time and time again.

The only blot on the night was a thigh injury to Roy Greaves, forcing him off the pitch towards the end. Typically, he recovered in time for the FA Cup fifth round match against Luton Town just a few days later.

Incidentally, the night before Wanderers faced Charlton they hosted Ipswich in the FA Youth Cup. The line-up was: Siddall; Clements, Holding, Reid, Allardyce, Martin, Smith, Taylor, Whatmore, Jones, Cross. Sub: Evans.

Meanwhile, five years ago Wanderers came back from a warm weather training camp in Alicante only to be caught cold against Dougie Freedman’s Nottingham Forest.

The game is remembered most for Emile Heskey coming on as an emergency centre-back at half time following the dismissal of Matt Mills.

Chris Burke and Michail Antonio fire his side into an early 2-0 lead before Adam Le Fondre reduced the deficit from the spot after Zach Clough was fouled.

Forest ran away with it after Mills’ red card with Henri Lansbury scoring from the spot and Burke adding his second.

To make matters worse, Tim Ream went off injured and Andy Lonergan – having conceded the penalty – was carried off with an apparent head injury in what proved to be his last game for Bolton.

Neil Lennon – who had stayed home ill during the Spain trip – admitted his players were not up to scratch.

"It was poor,” he said. “You can talk about working on the training ground to tighten things up, but when people are making individual mistakes, there is not a lot you can do.

"We were missing headers, not putting tackles in - we were soft and we need to correct it quickly. We will have to think about things.

"We have picked up another three injuries, but that does not excuse the ill-discipline, particularly the ill-discipline of the captain, who had a booking and a warning at half time.

"But then we were down to 10 men two minutes after the break and we just keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We tried to be more conservative, so that we were not as open."

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