Charlton did what they were expected to by beating Cardiff relatively easily today.
Alan Pardew started with the successful 4-5-1 formation of the last couple of games although Semedo was back for Racon. You didn't really notice the one up front as Charlton had plenty of possession and found room to create chances in the first half. Cardiff had their best chance of the match in the third minute when Stephen Thompson shot wide after a three man passing move. Apart from that, Cardiff played with purpose and supported each other coming forward but they looked hopeless in the final third. It looked like the first goal would see them off and that's pretty much what happened. A minute from the break Charlton got a free-kick on the left, the ball was whipped in and several players went for it in a melee, the ball spun back as everyone headed goalward and Sam Sodje seized the opportunity to rifle home from 12 yards. If that wasn't easy enough, Cardiff were undone again within a minute in similar style. A quick ball in from Mills caused panic in the Cardiff defence and the ball was served up to the advancing Iwelumo who stroked home from 25 yards.
Cardiff huffed and puffed in the second half but the Charlton defence looked composed and steadfast. The third goal was again fairly straightforward; a Reid free kick was headed home largely unopposed by Zheng Zhi. Charlton played some nice stuff in midfield for spells in the second half and always looked capable of upping the ante but at 3-0 the job was done. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink looked more at home in the Championship, heading a good effort wide and forcing a smart save from Weaver from a snap-shot. Cardiff did little else. Hasselbaink may be a mercenary but the fact that Cardiff play away in black must have appealed - his jacksy didn't look quite so large today.
A third successive clean sheet and the back four looked solid. Sodje looked like he was on a fiver per header and Fortune looked assured alongside him. Mills was strong again at right back and Basey looked commanding at left - probably his best game yet for the first team.
Reid was again the anchorman in midfield but seemed to play a little deeper today. Thomas had his best game since returning to the side and should have scored before the end when he raced into the box but somehow failed to hit the target. Zheng Zhi was industrious and his glanced header for the third was excellent. Lloyd Sam had a good game too, but I want to see more threat from him. Iwelumo lead the line again very well. Ambrose, Varney and Mcleod came on late but the game was over by then.
All-in-all a very satisfying home win that propels us back to second place. If we can avoid defeat at Preston (live on TV) after the international break we have two more home games and the opportunity to open up a gap in second place.
C'mon you Reds!