Saturday, 22 January 2011

Charlton Athletic 2 v Plymouth Argyle 0

Chris Powell's smile will be a fraction wider than normal this evening, if that's physically possible. He will be well satisfied with a winning start to his solo managerial career and he will be glad this one is out of the way and he can begin to concentrate on putting both his stamp on the squad and moving towards his preferred style of play.

It was far from a classic and until Marcel Seip gifted his former loanee team-mates a goal in the 55th minute, it had nil-nil written all over it. Neither keeper had a save to make up to that point. If that was a depressingly familiar home performance, there was hardly the crackling atmosphere we had all looked forward to either. The ground was visibly fuller than normal but the attendance of 16,607 revealed that the increase was largely made up of season tickets holders actually turning out in force for Powell's first game.

There were no real surprises with the side Powell put out or the formation either. It was five man midfield with Anyinsah the lone striker. We did at least take the game to Argyle in the first-half but created nothing I can remember and they were limited to a few good moves and touches from Yannick Bolasie. How they may miss Bradley Wright-Phillips if he leaves as looks almost certain. Simon Francis should be commended for the accuracy of his first-half crossing - every one went straight to their keeper.

The first-half was punctuated by a prolonged stoppage for standing treatment to Gary Doherty and then for two minutes at least as the referee went off and was replaced by assistant ref Nigel Lugg. Either way, I couldn't understand why we only played two minutes of added time.

Anyhow, the second-half came to life on 55 minutes when Marcel Seip under-hit a shortish back-pass to David Button and the alert Scott Wagstaff nipped into the gap and did very well to get to the ball before the onrushing Button and steer it home. The relief around three of the stands could be heard over the cheers and the home crowd finally found their voice. We upped the tempo after the goal for ten to fifteen minutes but there was nothing doing and Argyle came back into the match. They didn't really look like scoring but a snap-shot from outside the box grazed the side-netting with Elliot stranded. That was as close as they came.

Johnnie Jackson had taken a knock and was the first substitute of Powell's reign as Kyle Reid came on in fetching orange boots. McCormack was lucky to stay on in my opinion and I was surprised when Racon was hauled off for Nathan Eccleston to make his loan debut. There isn't much of him and he looked lost for ten minutes before finally getting a touch as he chased an Argyle player back into the Charlton-half and slid in to push the ball off his man's toe and back to Francis. He was up quickly enough to collect the return pass down the line and although his first touch was too much, the covering Argyle defenders were back-pedalling which allowed him a second controlling touch and he then burst into the gap and drove Plymouth back. He was then fortunate as he kept the ball after riding the first challenge but he drove on and all of a sudden he had a shooting opportunity albeit with two men in close attendance. His shot looked like it took a slight deflection from the covering challenge but the angle was good enough and it fizzed past Button and into the back of net. Eccleston ran to the north-east corner thumping the badge which looked a bit insincere but no-one could care less. He had managed to do what so many loan strikers manage at other clubs but rarely ours - score quickly on their debut. It was the icing on the cake really and young Nate has given us all something to hang our hopes on for the rest of the season.

The win has kept us in seventh place and play-off contention. MK Dons, Peterborough and Bournemouth all won. Colchester drew at Huddersfield and Southampton and Brighton were both surprisingly beaten. This league looks determined to keep things as open as possible. With the exception of Hartlepool away in midweek, none of the next thirteen matches look particularly difficult. I'm not suggesting we'll go unbeaten but we could well accumulate enough points to remain very firmly in the hunt before we face Southampton twice, Bournemouth away and Huddersfield at home.

It really could be too close to call, in spite of our obvious short-comings, and you have to wonder what money is going to be made available to Chris Powell before the window closes. I was surprised that no-one came in this week but Pawel Abbott was either prevented from going to Bristol Rovers on or recalled from loan. Not a great sign in my mind that there's bundles of cash available to Powell but maybe he just wanted to see for himself what Pawel may have to offer. 

The focus of my attention this week will turn from Powell to Jimenez and Slater.

No comments: