Saturday, 6 April 2013

Charlton win in added time

After failing to score in added time all season, Charlton scored the winner at The Valley this afternoon in a 2-1 victory over Leeds United that puts them in 12th place in the table.

Johnnie Jackson had put the Addicks ahead with a captain's goal in the opening minutes of the second half. However, going behind revitalised Leeds and a second goal failed to come for Charlton. The Bloke Behind Me was proclaiming with gloomy satisfaction 'We'll cock it up again' and Leeds did equalise late on in the second half.

It was left to much criticised loan signing Jonathan Obika, who had come on as substitute, to score a great winning goal which clearly meant a lot to him as he accepted the plaudits of the Valley faithful after the game. Chris Powell's critics will no doubt say that he 'got lucky', but it's luck I am happy to take with relegation a more distant prospect.

Predictably the coverage in the Football League Paper this morning takes a 'What's wrong with Leeds line?' In a sense that is a reasonable enough as they are only of a very few genuinely 'massive' teams in the Championship (I leave to one side the claims of another Yorkshire team). It did seem to me that the Leeds defence was surprisingly poor, and a Leeds fan I knows agrees with me, although they did have their best defender suspended. Even so, they were static at times. They also wasted some chances in front of goal, Paul Green being a particular offender, but then so did we.

I was in an optimistic mood before the match after a good journey down. I was late leaving home and I thought I might miss my usual train at Coventry. But the train was late and, unusually, there was no queue at the fast ticket machines. Normally there are lots of usually young people, many of whom surprisingly seem to have great difficulty using the machines: I have had to rescue more than one of them. Anyway, as I walked on to the platform the train was coming in.

Despite the new trend for friends to feel they are entitled to stand side by side on escalators, I had a fast journey to North Greenwich. Indeed, the train was finishing there and I reflected that had the proposed Jubilee Line spur gone ahead this would have been one of the match day trains through to The Valley.

As it was, a lot of rather baffled Leeds fans got on the bus. There was great excitement when the cable cars were spotted: ironic, given that a well-known Charlton fan and blogger rans a campaign against 'the dangleway' on Twitter, regarding it as a Boris folly. I was quite surprised to hear the Leeds fans discussing whether Sir Chris was racist in its team selection by preferring black players.

I entered the ground via Ransom Walk and I thought that I could see elves in the distance. Not only were there elves, but the Chief Elf, Rick Everitt, was selling copies of Voice of the Valley run off that morning on the Roneo in his back bedroom. I had the signal honour of buying my copy from the Rickster itself. There are some good articles inside, although I will be taking issue with some of them in subsequent posts, not least my old adversary Richard Hunt.

If one was going to summarise the football in this match, one would say that both sides were fully committed and there were flashes of real skill, but it wasn't like watching Barcelona. Indeed, at times, the football was decidedly scrappy and both sides had difficulty in retaining possession

Paul Green (not even worth a mention in the programme) burst through with an early long run and it took all Morrison's skill to deal with it. Solly put in a cross to Harriott, but he was not able to make use of it. As the Blackheath Addick has commented, there are still some shortcomings in Harriot's perfomance in the final third. Hughes gave away an unnecessary free kick after fouling Green and one of my general criticisms of Charlton's performance is that we do give away too many avoidable free kicks. A free kick from near the corner flag is always potentially dangerous, but Hamer caught the ball well.

Wiggins put in a first rate defensive header as danger threatened. Kenny saved from Kermorgant. In play following a Solly free kick, a ball from Dervitte was blocked and then Morrison blasted over. Wiggins conceded a free kick for a foul on McCormack. Harriott put in a good cross across the six yard box, but no one was there to connect. A Charlton corner eventually ended in a goal kick. Pritchard put in a cross which was very poor. Kenny saved at the near post off Kermorgant. Dervitte provided good defensive cover, but then spoilt it by keeping the ball in play when he should have gone for safety first.

An Addicks corner was saved. Fuller laid the ball off well for Kermorgant, but the Breton was unable to take advantage. Paul Green missed badly for Leeds. Harriott won Charlton what turned out to be an unproductive corner. The on form Wiggins was once again called on to provide a good defensive header. Harriott weaved his way through the Leeds defence, but then put the ball just wide: shooting practice needed. The versatile Kermorgant was called on to make a good defensive intervention. Pritchard put in a good ball, but no one was able to take advantage of an open goal. Solly was putting in some good work. Pritchard was fouled and Michael Tonge received a yellow card. Charlton launched a good attack, but it ended in a correct offside decision. There had been virtually no stoppages and a notional one minute was added on.

I noticed that the Leeds fans had a number of banners proclaiming that they were from Surrey, Sussex and Essex (but I didn't see one from Kent). I gave some information to a Leeds fan on the train back and he spoke with a middle class accent, but lived in New Cross, which he admitted was not a good area. All credit to the Leeds fans for applauding our Academy players at half time. A text came through to say that Leamington were 2-0 ahead at Totton which was the final score. Nine points clear, the title and the Blue Square North beckons.

HT: Addicks 0, Leeds 0

The Addicks took advantage of a static Leeds defence after the break. A shot from Dervitte on 47 minutes was blocked but it fell well for Jacko and the skipper made no mistake in blasting it in the back of the net. Leeds then started to liven up, but Pritchard and Fuller were working togethr well and Pritchard put in a cross across the front of goal which no one could take advantage of, although an own goal was momentarily a possibility. Hughes put in a great defensive header and there is no doubt that he is rated by the Leeds fans.

Kermorgant was fouled by Norris who received a yellow card. Jackson then entered into the referee's book and following the free kick it was panic stations in the Addicks defence. A ball from Morison went off the back of the post and into the side netting. Aidan White was taken off and replaced by Luke Varney, a decision that we rightly feared. The Bloke Beside Me is a great Varney fan because he scored two goals against Palace, whereas I remember the sitters he missed. Somehow players who make a late start from non-league football never quite make the grade. 19-21 years old is an important time in their development which is why Harriott, with the right support, should blossom and may eventually be sold on to a Premiership club.

Fuller was taken off and replaced by Kerkar as the attendance was announced as 18,900. On the first day of the year which carried a hint of spring and with two evenly matched teams, there probably was quite a lot of genuine walk up traffic.

Bradley Pritchard played a ball which would have been poor in the Conference. Charlton were being forced back and nine players were trying desperately to defend in front of the baying away support. Perhaps inevitably, it was a deflected volley from Varney that got the equaliser on 81 minutes.

Could Charlton hang on for the point? Charlton launched a good attack in 83 minutes. Solly had a chance to score but was just wide. Harriott was taken off in place of Obika who had been asking Chris Powell what he had to do to play. He immediately made an impact. Tonge was taken off to very lukewarm applause from the Leeds fans and Michael Brown came on and immediately got booked for fouling Kermorgant. The free kick led to a Charlton corner which was punched out by Kenny.

Lee Potter went down and made the most of it, but this simply extended the time added on, allowing Obika to score in the 95th minute with a great header making use of a cross from Wiggins.

<;p>Interesting report from a Leeds fan here with plenty of praise for Andy Hughes: Leeds view

Match analysis

There was no standout nomination for the Silver Bone as it was very much a team game in which we were passing better than we normally do. However, Ivy the Terrible has given to award to Johnnie Jackson as his goal played a crucial role in the outcome of the match. Hamer was on good form and, although he wasn't tested too much, he made some good saves. Morrison did his job solidly and was prominent at set pieces, but could not find the back of the net. Dervitte was less evident, but what he did do was competent enough. Judging from the votes I saw, Chris Solly is heading to be Player of the Year again and he showed why he was such a favourite today. Wiggins made a few errors, but used his pace well and got into some good positions. Pritchard did make some good contributions to attacking moves, but he also seemed lightweight at times and too easily hustled off the ball. Harriott is still a work in progress, but he can harry and out manoeuvre the opposition. Hughes was not that prominent, but he sticks to his task and made some good interventions. Kermorgant was fouled quite a lot and had some near misses. The FLP reckons that 'he showed the most power, skill and creativity of any player on the pitch.' Fuller was getting in offside positions too often, although like Kermorgant he was fouled a lot. He does rather expect the ball to be served up on a plate to him. Kerkar didn't add a lot when he came on but Obika showed that he can at least be a super substitute.

Reg is still looking for the referee's cat to have a word

The referee came from Warwickshire and Reg has asked if he can go round and sort his cat out. In any event Reg gave the Hiss of the Match to referee Atwell. He was one of those referees that sees some things and not others, leading to inconsistent decisions.

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