Saturday, 29 March 2008

Charlton Athletic 2 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 3

Our team did the decent thing today and put us out of our misery. No more talk of X wins from Y games. No more ifs and buts. It's all over. We have failed miserably in our attempts to regain Premier League status and I, for one, am happy enough for the confirmation of that. We are woefully short on many fronts and promotion would have been an embarrassment. Frankly, I feel a little bit sorry for Stoke and Bristol City because one of them could beat the record Derby have set today for earliest relegation from the top flight if they make it. Hull City are crowing too but they also look like Octogenranians in tea-shirts on the summit of Everest.

We didn't play badly today but were always second best. Wolves looked like they were battling for the play-offs away from home and we looked like a relegation threatened home team, which in many ways reflects the situation perfectly. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake crashed home a superb opener after 15 minutes of Wolves domination from the start and remained a threat until being withdrawn after scoring an equally impressive solo second. In between ,times he could have had a third if his shot hadn't come off the post (and been skewed wide by Karl Henry).

We mustered little in the first half. Leroy Lita was desperate to get the ball but looked incompetant when he did. Supply was again a problem although Thomas looked more up for it than usual. Ambrose was anonymous and unsurprisingly withdrawn for Zheng Zhi at half time. Holland and Semedo fought hard in midfield but were out-gunned. We did manage an equaliser from a fine 20 yard strike by Greg Halford but it was hardly deserved.

Charlton upped the ante in second half. Greg Halford struck a beautiful free-kick but Hennessey was equal to it with a superb finger-tip save. Leroy Lita went close and began to look likely to score. We had a 15 minute spell where the winner was on the cards but we just weren't forcing it enough and both sides were introduicng substitions. Lee Cook, on for Jerome Thomas, flashed a long-range shot wide, but this was the cue for Ebanks-Blake to take the initiative and he did so in style turning Paddy McCarthy inside out before hammering home from an acute angle. I gave it another five minutes but left at 1-2. The roar as I entered Harvey Gardens told me we had managed an undeserved equaliser but I arrived at the Royal Oak in time to see the replay of Karl Henry's winner. Lita headed the second and deserved it more than we did based upon his second -half performance.

Wolves are a better side than I have given them credit for and, frankly, I hope they can nick the 6th spot. Their turnout was disappointly poor at c 1,000. Yes, it was a televised game and their record on Sky is not much better than ours, but they are on a good run of form heading for the play-offs and are a "big" club. No, we wouldn't have had any more at their place in reverse circumstances, but I don't judge them by our meagre standards. The official attendance of 23,000 odd needs a word of explanation too, because there were significantly less than 20,000 people in the ground. I sit in a row of 11 and there were 14 of us in the three rows where I am. All are season ticket holders and 5 of those present were guests. Things are bad and I fear we might have more trauma to come.

Alan Pardew has been pretty honest as a Manager and has taken responsibility where necessary. It's time he did so again and stopped the charade of "mathematical" promotion. We need to finish the season with two dignified home performances.

Roll on Summer.

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