Charlton took fourth place in the Championship after defeating Derby County 3-2 at The Valley yesterday evening. The Addicks have now beaten two of the teams who made the play offs last year, although as promotion favourites the Rams were faster and fitter than Wigan. After going 2-1 ahead just before half team with a penalty, the Addicks made it 3-1, but then allowed Derby to get back in the game with a second goal. This made for a tense finish with four minutes added on, but the Addicks survived to claim all three points.
In the first five minutes of the game we played some of the best possession football I have seen at The Valley, putting together something like forty passes. Charlton were ahead in the 11th minute when Tucudean latched onto Jordan Cousins' cross to smash the ball past Derby keeper Lee Grant. I think that the new wider pitch does help our players to make more use of the wings.
Derby started to get back into the game. They were given too much space and were progressing down the wings in particular. At times our midfield lost its shape. After Pope had made one good save, he could not stop a powerful equaliser from the dangerous Ward going into the top corner in the 31st minute. The Rams went close to taking the lead but Craig Bryson and Jeff Hendrick shot tamely at Pope. During this phase of the game Big Bob was going ballistic on the touchline.
As everyone was whistling for half time, four minutes being added on, Tucudean advanced into the area and was brought down by Keogh. Buyens, who has replaced Jacko as penalty taker, dispatched his shot with coolness and force into the goal.
Franck Moussa fired wide from close range before Vetokele headed in Laurie Wilson's cross, the move having been started by Jackson. A weak effort from Ward squeezed through Pope's legs to give Derby hope of snatching a draw but Charlton held on for the three points.
Here's what the Derby paper thinks of their team's failure to secure an historic clean sheet: Ram View
Congratulations to the guy who flew from Melbourne to see the game and got there just in time despite flight delays and a big queue at immigration. His dad and uncle were waiting for him at the gate.
Ivy the Belgian Shepherd has awarded George Tucudean his first Silver Bone. Even though he had to go off at half time, his opening goal was well taken and then won a penalty on the brink of half time.
Before the game one prominent Addick was arguing that Nick Pope should remain in goal when Henderson was fit (hopefully for Saturday). Pope still has a lot to learn and tonight will have made a valuable contribution towards that process. He has lots of potential, but the Championship is different from League 2 in terms of the crowd and the quality of the play. We shouldn't have played so many back passes to him. Bikey once again showed that he is an effective central defender, although he did fall over a lot. Tal Ben Haim put himself about, requiring treatment at one point. Gomez showed what a promising player he is, shame that the referee gave him a yellow card. Wiggins had a far better game than on Saturday. Buyens took his penalty well and has a great work rate, we are fortunate that personal circumstances required him to spend a year away from the mother ship. Jackson looked sharper and fitter and was much more involved than on Saturday. See him accept the ice bucket challenge here: Ice bucket Cousins perhaps wasn't quite as good as on Saturday, but still made an effective contribution. Gudmundsson showed a good turn of speed and had one shot saved. Vetokele was muscled out of the game somewhat in the first half, but his goal was well taken. Moussa did not make as great an impact on Saturday. One promising attack ended when he slipped up. Once again Wilson was an effective substitute. Fox had a cameo.
Fat Cat Fleur has awarded the Hiss of the Match to me for being home late, but I was back in Leamington by midnight which is something of a record. Just as well as I have to be in London by 12.30 for lunch.
Glass Half Empty
Introducing the pessimistic view contributed by Derek from Dymchurch.
I must admit I had some cogitating to do on the coach home. The Daily Express said that this Belgian geezer was useless, had managed the equivalent of a pub side, but it seems he knows how to get the team to play football. It was cold on the walk back to the bungalow and the Daily Express said the other week that we were going to have the hottest weather ever. If you can't believe what you read in the papers, where are you?
But it's early days. We've only played three matches, two of those were at home and we won each of those by a margin of just one goal. Why can't we hang on to a lead? When we went 3-1 ahead, Peeters should have gone for the fourth or parked the bus. He did neither. Belgians don't know whether they are French or Dutch and they don't know whether to attack or defend. We may be fourth from top now, but we could well be fourth from bottom by Christmas!