Saturday, 18 April 2009

Charlton Athletic 2 v Blackpool 2

A day of pleasant surprises ended in familiar disappointment at the Valley this afternoon as Charlton threw away a rare home win and were finally relegated.

It started so brightly. The downpour that was predicted on Thursday had passed during the night and we woke to wall-to-wall sunshine. The pitch looked immaculate for this point in the season and Blackpool's following was a healthy and noisy 500-600. They also had an enormous flag which covered an entire block of seats in the Jimmy Seed stand. A few pre-match pints with fellow bloggers and we were set for a decent match.

The only real change for the Addicks was the appearance of Deon Burton, in presumably, for an injured Tresor Kandol. Charlton bossed the first-half from midfield and created a succession of goal-scoring chances; Darren Ward flashed a header across the face of Blackpool's goal from a corner; Therry Racon was foiled by a last-ditch tackle having waltzed through the Blackpool back-line; Deon Burton spun and fired over the bar from 18 yards; Jonjo Shelvey blasted wide three times having played himself into position with one-two's from his midfield colleagues. All we were missing was a goal which might have opened the floodgates. Blackpool kept their shape and tried to attack whenever they did win any midfield ball but their chances in the first forty-five were limited to two headers which didn't trouble Rob Elliott.

Within four minutes of the re-start Charlton were two-up and should have gone on to kill the game. The first was another delightful passing movement on the right flank involving Zheng Zhi and Lloyd Sam whose flighted cross was perfectly weighted to beat the last Blackpool centre-half and Deon Burton's spring and hang was just enough for him to nod the ball wide of the Paul Rachubka. Before the Valley had fully settled down, Jonjo Shelvey was found in space on the right-hand side of the box and as he ran in on goal he picked the angle to beat Rachubka again. 

It was party time at the Valley and the fans in the Covered End gave a stirring rendition of "Charl-ton til I die" and an amusing "stand-up if you're in the shit" which was well received around the ground. Unfortunately, Charlton stepped off the gas at this point. Bailey was playing much wider left and went out of the game. Therry Racon kept up the pace but was beginning to lose more possession with Zheng Zhi. I thought it was time for a change of personnel but it didn't come. Blackpool did make changes as they began to chase the game and they got their toe back in the match on 67 minutes when DJ Campbell was felled by an out-stretched Zheng Zhi leg which was careless as Campbell was twisting and turning and looking for it.  Campbell got up to beat Elliott easily and we were in for a nervy finish.  Hudson and Youga were booked as Charlton tried to slow the game and Tamer Tuna came on for a surprise debut in place of Burton. Shelvey was doing all the running and he nearly pulled-off an audacious 50 yard lob of Rachubka that would have made the headlines had it not cleared the bar.

With three minutes of extra time being played, Blackpool made a late break and the ball was played back to bad-boy sub Lee Hughes who curled a beautiful shot into the top right corner to cue over-the-top celebrations behind the goal as half-a-dozen blonde-wigged Seasiders made a dash for the pitch which looked pre-arranged. Another disappointing end to a decent home performance. We simply haven't been able to learn from our mistakes this year and something more basic needs to change.

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