Saturday, 20 November 2010

Charlton Athletic 3 v Yeovil Town 2

With Brighton only managing a 2-2 home draw with Tuesday night's opponents Bristol Rovers, a squeaky 3-2 win in a tense match means Charlton remain in second place with a two point lead over third-placed Colchester and now four points from the pack. 

It says something about this current side that they continue to get results without really playing particularly well. I would have been tempted to comment once again that's it's got as much to do with the poor quality of this division, but that would be unfair on a Yeovil side who looked a lot better than their current 23rd position would suggest. Terry Skiverton deserves credit for bringing his side to play football today and they will consider themselves unfortunate not to be going home with at least a point. 

On arrival in Harvey Gardens this afternoon, you could have been forgiven for thinking Manchester United were the visitors and not Yeovil Town. Enormous queues for the turnstiles were everywhere. The immediate reaction was that our recent winning streak had suddenly caused thousands to return but I quickly established that it had more to do with the fact that only half the turnstiles were open. The club will no doubt trot out some line about us having to turn up earlier or that they are cutting costs. What they are doing, of course, is deterring some of those fans from hurrying back. We walked up to the Sam Bartram entrance and got in far quicker than had we joined the queue.

The side Parky sent out was predictable enough with Martin and Benson playing up front. In front of Elliot were Fry, Doherty, Dailly and Francis. Jackson, Racon, Semedo and Reid made the midfield, although I suppose you could argue that Martin had a free role.

The first-half was tidy enough and we took the lead twice. The opening goal came after 11 minutes and was a delightful finish from Johnnie Jackson to an excellent Martin cross. It looked like we might be in the mood for a rare romp at home but Yeovil stood up well and got men forward at every opportunity. It was hardly a surprise, therefore, when they equalised after 24 minutes when Andrew Williams burst between Dailly and Doherty and fired off a quick shot which Elliot could only get tips to and it squeezed in off the post. We were in front two minutes later when Therry Racon collected a ball in the box and drilled a low shot past Sullivan into the opposite corner. 

Two-one then at the break with the promise of being home and dry well before the finish. This is Charlton though and this is the Valley. Yeovil came out the more determined looking and whilst we looked very comfortable on the ball, they looked the more likely to score. Benson was leading the line but not making space and Martin was struggling to impose himself against a beefy Yeovil defence.

Yeovil snatched their second equalising goal ten minutes into the second-half. Dailly conceded an innocuous-looking but professional foul outside the box. The free-kick was driven in low and was not cleared at the first attempt. The ball fell amongst the posse of waiting players and was blasted high into Elliot's net from short distance. It's being reported as an own goal by Doherty but it looked a strikers finish to me.

We really found it hard to up the ante after that and I was fearing we might even throw it away as Yeovil refused to settle for the draw. We were crying out for more pace and power upfront but Parky seemed determined to persevere. After 70 minutes, Akpo Sodje was brought on for Matt Fry as we finally prepared to go for it. A minute later and Christian Dailly was shown a straight red after appearing to lead with his elbow as he clattered Sam Williams. Referee Whitestone may have been tempted to show just a yellow as the offence was out wide and there was an element of subtlety about about it. If he was in two minds, he was quickly settled by the four or five Yeovil players who ran across the pitch to remonstrate. 

As the clock ran down the game became a little bit more stretched and it was the 11 man Glovers who cracked. A ball down the middle towards Sodje fell beyond Huntington and as Akpo broke free of him there was the slightest touch from the Yeovil player. It wasn't enough to bring Akpo down but within half a second I think he realised he wouldn't beat the advancing keeper to the ball and he crashed to the ground. The linesman on the West stand touchline flagged immediately and it may have been that he was doing so from the moment Huntington appeared to snatch at Sodje but there was a strong suspicion that it was Sodje's dive that persuaded him. Whatever it was, Johnnie Jackson stepped up to hammer home and secure the victory and net his sixth goal in five league games.

If you are prepared to brave the queues, Tuesday's game against Bristol Rovers promises to be something special as the mighty Reds go in search of their sixth successive league victory. That would make it eight wins and a draw from nine in all competitions since the Brighton debacle. Who'd a thought it?

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