The first half sounded an even enough contest with two good chances apiece. McLeod was well supported by Wagstaff, Gray and an over-lapping Basey and he managed a header straight at the keeper from a Basey cross and a shot on the run which was also straight at the Hereford stopper. In between these chances, the Bulls managed to hit the Charlton bar and a post through Marc Pugh and James McQuillan. Nothing much was heard of Wade Small although Basey appeared to be delivering most of the ammunition from the left which begged a few questions.
Not sure what's happening with the commentary but after rave reviews of improvements, it seemed just the same to me. Radio London (Digital) were doing it with Bradley Allan as guest commentator and I had the same odd buffering gaps as I have always had. That may be down to the inadequate Broadband speed on the edges of copper technology from the Greenwich exchange (I should reveal an interest here and tell you that Greenwich exchange will be upgraded to provide up to 20mbps speeds in March 2010 which may mean us on the limits in Charlton getting a perfectly acceptable 4 or 5mbps). Irrespective, commentary was lost at half-time after trying to go to Exeter for a QPR update. Instead I got a prolonged silence. My browser showed I was still connected but obviously I wasn't as I had to sign-out and re sign-in to belatedly pick-up the second-half commentary.
Hereford came out brightly but it was the Addicks who got the first break after 55 minutes. Andy Gray was adjudged to have been pulled down and got up to see his spot-kick saved to the keeper's right. Unacceptable for me and after McLeod's spot-kick miss at Bray, you really wonder if when and if things will ever improve for this two. Hereford picked up the mantle and began to take the match to us without really threatening to score until the last minute of normal time.
Nicky Bailey came on for the quiet Wade Small after 75 minutes. Not the debut he would have wanted but perhaps he's short of match fitness? Hereford's attacks began to dry-up as news of Palace, Millwall and QPR leads were fed into us. Stavrinou was booked for kicking the ball away. Stuart Fleetwood came on for McLeod with eight minutes left and he got put in on goal before the end of the 90 but fluffed his chance to win the game and he remains in the Duffer's Club with our other strikers.
A mistake from Solly let Hereford break in the last minute of normal time but Elliot pulled out a late save (a la Wycombe) to send the game into extra time and give the 300 Spartans who made the trip an even later bed-time.
The boredom of extra-time was broken as Hereford stole the ball from Gray, burst through and Jonny Godsmark converted the cross to take the lead at ten-to-ten. With tired legs and sagging heads, Deon Burton was thrown on for Wagstaff. A minute later he beat the keeper from a Bailey cross but his volley came off the post. Elliot had to pull off another good save to keep Charlton in with a sniff as the first period of extra-time finished. The last period was uneventful as tired bodies failed to string more than two passes together. Andy Gray completed another miserable appearance by missing another late header and Burton spurned a last gasp chance.
I said before today that I wouldn't have been at all concerned if we limped out of this competition tonight and we have done just that. The irony of the evening I suppose was a youngish team let down by an experienced front-line. It was a Charlton XI and we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. However, Hereford were relegated last season from League One and had lost all of their previous seven competitive home games (stretching back to last season).
Saturday promises to be a real test at Hartlepool. Let's hope they field a strong side at Coventry tomorrow night and get their legs run off and well-beaten.