Saturday, 16 March 2013

Goals change games

That old adage was proved to be true today when two second half goals in quick succession gave Millwall a 2-0 victory at The Valley this afternoon. Up until then, Charlton had been at least holding their own against Millwall: possession over the game was 53-47 in favour of the Addicks. Indeed, arguably we played the better football in the first half in particular but as Steve from Petts Wood commented, 'We played some nice football, but we weren't ruthless enough to make anything of it. It was pretty clear to me that once we went 0-2 down we weren't going to get back in the game, although we tried hard enough.' Millwall have now leap frogged Charlton in the table with the Addicks going down to 14th.

The sense of deep disappointment was intensified by the frustration caused by the difficulty in getting away from the ground. We had known in advance that Floyd Road and Ransom Walk were to be closed off, but fans were advised to exit right into Harvey Gardens and then found the bottom half of Charlton Lane had been closed, denying many of them access to their cars parked on the other side of the Woolwich Road. According to the programme the plan to let the Millwall fans get away was a joint decision of the club and the police, but some sources have indicated that the club would have preferred the visitors to be held back.

A lot of Millwall supporters got on at London Bridge, but surprisingly none at Deptford. A large group got on Greenwich and the air was soon blue as a tale was told involving some ducks, a swan that had been kicked in the chest and then the arrival of some ****ing alsatians which spoilt the fun. It was raining heavily when the game started and the pitch was quite badly waterlogged on the East Stand side. In the flats overlooking the ground a group of Millwall supporters were hanging out a banner: ironically there is a Charlton shield on the same floor.

Bradley Pritchard drew an early save from the Millwall keeper. Charlton won a corner but from the ensuing play Harriott sent the ball well over. Millwall won a free kick near the corner flag, but it was cleared without great difficulty. Good play by Harriott forced Millwall back. Osborne had to be withdrawn for Millwall and Scottish economist Adam Smith replaced him. Solly put in some excellent defensive work. An error in midfield by Pritchard led to a corner for the visitors. As the half hour mark passed, Charlton seemed to be in the ascendancy and Harriott put in a shot which had to be saved by Forde in the Millwall goal at the expense of a corner. However, this led to a free kick for the visitors.

Slowness by Pritchard set up a Millwall attack. Kermorgant put in an effort that was way off target. Smith got a yellow card for a foul. With two minutes added on, Millwall put in a shot that was fractionally wide, a warning for the second half when they would be attacking towards their own fans.

HT 0-0

Harriot was tripped and Dunne got a yellow card, setting out a free kick in a promising position. For a moment I and those around me thought that Kermorgant had scored, but the ball had flashed just wide. This was a turning point in many ways for Charlton's play started to deteriorate. Runs by Haynes were petering out, Wilson was putting in aimless balls and Harriott put the ball over again.

Millwall brought on their loan signing from Palace and with his first touch of the ball he scored, the ball slipping through Button's arms. Charlton started to lose their shape and panic. Pritchard received a yellow card for a foul, setting up a free kick in a central position but some way out. It didn't look that dangeerous at first, but the shot arrowed through, curving as it went, and Button was unable to make the save: he should have done better.

Charlton then made a double substitution, taking off Wilson and Haynes (rightly so) and bringing on Wagstaff. Indecisiveness by Button required Solly to use all his skills. Charlton tried to apply some pressure, but it was evidently going nowhere. The bloke two seats to my right was going beserk with anger, but the simple fact was that we had been outplayed on the day. When four minutes were added on, one wag said that if four hours had been added on we wouldn't have scored. Of course, it's more difficult for people who live in South London and have to put up with bragging rights. I don't know any Millwall supporters in Warwickshire, although there are a few Charlton supporters around.

I have never seen so many police at a Charlton game, although to some extent the behaviour of some of our own supporters at The New Den may have contributed to this. My plan had been to walk up the hill and get a bus to Woolwich or Blackheath rather than hang around in Harvey Gardens for half an hour. However, the Bloke Beside Me offered me a lift into Woolwich and the idea of taking a look at my old stamping ground appealed: I haven't been there since the play off celebrations. However, when we reached the top of Harvey Gardens we found the lower end of Charlton Lane blocked off. Some people were going up Craigmount Road which enabled them to loop round and join Charlton Lane nearer the level crossing but the police formed a line, including mounted police, to stop this. Many people then started going through the garden of the corner house and climbing over the fence and two mounted police were deployed to stop this. I learnt subsequently that some of these were Millwall fans seeking to taunt the stranded Addickted. Many people were quite angry and it could have turned nasty, but fortunately it didn't.

We were then told that Floyd Road was open, so I went back that way. A group of Millwall fans was being escorted up the road by a phalanx of police, so so much for getting them out of the area. Another who was the worse for wear was being dealt with by the side of the road. The police have a difficult job, but sometimes they make it more difficult for themselves. I don't think that the Metropolitan Police enhanced their reputation today, certainly not in my eyes, but I don't suppose they care. If it happened in Warwickshire, I could complain to the much maligned police and crime commissioner.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible was so barking mad after the game that she was inclined to keep the Silver Bone for herself. However, eventually it was decided to award it to Callum Harriott. It's unfortunate that some of the best chances fell to him because he didn't make good use of them, but he did play well, showing lots of pace and commitment. Is Button any better than Hamer? He spilled the ball once and the second goal was arguably saveable even though it did curve. Morrison generally had a decent game. Taylor played us into trouble once. Solly showed some real skill at times. Wiggins did make one or two errors, a lack of pace at one time giving Millwall an avoidable throw in but was generally solid. I thought that Pritchard had a rather error prone game, although there were some positive contributions. Jackson battled away with great determination. Wilson was below his usual standard and seemed a bit off the pace at times. I had advocated starting Haynes but he seemed to be too lightweight and was muscled off the ball too easily, admittedly often when he had two or more defenders chasing him. Kermorgant nearly scored with his free kick, but got increasingly frustrated as the game went on. He evidently felt that he did not get enough protection for fouls, but I thought that the referee got things right most of the time. Wagstaff was energetic when he came on but to no great effect. I had hoped that the skill of Fuller might turn the game around, but he seemed to be lacking in ideas.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the Metropolitan Police.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure you don't want to come to Wembley with me? It might cheer you up!

Wyn Grant said...

You will certainly need more people than you get at the New Den for a home game, but no doubt plenty of people will discover they have been lifelong Millwall supporters.

Anonymous said...

So much for a "big club", couldn't even put together a decent attendance but would assume this as no free tickets given out for this match

Geoff said...

As far as the football is concerned I'm afraid we looked scared - of Shittu in particular. He seems to have become a legend in a v short time. Harriott, repeatedly, and Haynes failed to take him on and on two or three occasions our attacker was outpaced by a guy who looked no more than half-fit. His telescopic legs do help, of course.

You are too kind to the Borough Commander, Wyn. He or she created a potential disturbance with those barriers on Charlton Lane and Coxmount. Car drivers barred from their vehicles, train travellers told to use the Dockyard stn barred from the direct route. The leading mountie at Coxmount was telling people to walk UP Charlton Lane, not a sensible message for the elderly and ambulant disabled. After the dangerous exiting of Scumhurst last month at the behest of another Borough Commander, one begins to wonder whether CAFC supporters are being set-up. If the club was party to this arrangement they should hang their heads as low as the team does at the Valley.


Wyn Grant said...

Geoff, I think you are right about Shittu but he does look pretty formidable. I would also agree with you about the Borough Commander. It could have all kicked off. I saw the leading mountie telling people to walk up Charlton Hill (I was on the scene until we heard that Floyd Road had been opened). However, I think it is more a case of cock up than conspiracy. Not a day for the 'arent't our policemen/women wonderful?' brigade although, to my surprise, some Addicks have strongly defended the police tactics.

Wyn Grant said...

Quite likely fewer comps were given out, but I also suspect that 'walk up' traffic was down. I don't know who thinks we are a 'big' club, other than anyone seeking to persuade someone to buy the club.

samhhap said...

Would like to see Hamer back in the team. Defiantly think he is better out of the two.

Sciurus Carolinensis Nemesis said...

The best goalkeeper at the club is bewilderingly getting some match practice at AFC Wimbledon.
Button and Hamer make the same sort of errors and too many of them.
Sullivan's paucity of appearances isn't down to his form or ability - odd.

Wyn Grant said...

Good point about Sullivan, it is a puzzle, at least he should be in contention. Given a choice between Hamer and Button, I would go for Hamer.

Anonymous said...

Sullivan is definitely worse than either Hamer or Button, did no-one see the Leyton Orient away game? Looked such a liability.