Sunday, 8 January 2012

Fulham 4 v Charlton Athletic 0

It was a "no lose" game for us which we didn't deserve to lose by four goals. Fulham's Premier League class was evident but we gave them a game and our players did us proud, which was what we all wanted first and foremost.

It was obvious from arriving at Charlton station that this was going to be a big day out. There were a couple of dozen Charlton fans on the platform and plenty more on the train when it arrived. I stood at the foot of the escalators in the main hall at Waterloo for half-an-hour waiting on mates and watched a procession of Charlton fans heading for the Putney train. Most were in large family groups and were sporting colours and carrying flags. It looked more like we were heading for the final than the third round. 

Putney High Street was awash with Addicks, most choosing to congregate down by the river-front pubs. My intention of a sensible drink in the Bricklayers Arms which is tucked away from the main road was slightly spoilt by a hundred or so others with the same idea. After a couple of pints we decided to vacate our space and head for the bigger pubs by the river. Mistake. The Dukes Head was even busier and the staff inept. There seemed to be plenty of them but they had run out of glasses. We left thirsty and tried a wine-bar effort down the road but whilst that was less busy, there were only two staff on. Unfortunately, we ended up in the one pub I was intent on avoiding. The Aussie Wahoo bar at the foot of the bridge. At least we got a couple of cold pints before joining the throng over the bridge and through the park to Craven Cottage. You got the sense then of the size of our following and Valley Floyd Road was booming out from the stand as we neared the ground. 

The stand itself is an unusual temporary affair that looks permanent. Not sure what Fulham were thinking when they put this up. Perhaps they were planning ahead for when they finally leave the Premier League and the interest from visiting supporters falls away once again. Nonetheless, it gave us a pretty good view and the facilities were adequate - the consensus amongst my party was that "Villis" pies were the best we had ever had at football (and that's some pies), although at £3.90 they were also the most expensive.

To the game then, and Chris Powell fielded the strong side I expected. Sullivan was, of course, in goal and Matt Taylor was back alongside Morrison. Martin Jol did the honourable thing and also picked a first-team, so there was never going to be any question of "what if?" It was a decent first half with us going behind in the sixth minute after Danny Murphy poked a ball between our central defenders which Dempsey latched onto and beat Sullivan from close range. Sullivan was angry at being beaten after already having pulled off a one-handed save from a swerving and dipping shot.

I was right behind the goal, nine rows from the front so judging events at the other end of the pitch was difficult but we certainly had plenty of the ball and Stockdale was worked by Kermorgant and Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips was unlucky to see his effort stopped by a superb reaction save and Stockdale was at full stretch to keep Kermorgant out. Fulham's passing and movement was excellent and their game was anchored by the impressive Hangeland and Sonderous. One nil at half-time and you could sense the hope for the second-half in our end with our boys kicking towards the red horde.

The first twenty minutes of the second-half provided the best football we were to play and we really took the game to Fulham without getting the reward we deserved. Wright-Phillips managed our best chanced but again he was foiled at close range. The locals can't fail to have been impressed with us during that spell and a couple of them told me as much in the pub after the match.

Unfortunately for us, Fulham countered on the hour and Dempsey arrived in the box to meet a left-wing centre and fire beyond Sullivan for the killer second goal. After that it was a case of concentrating on our game and playing it out without conceding again. Fortune wasn't with us because Fulham were awarded what look to me like a dodgy pen when Sullivan was judged to have brought down an onrushing white shirt. A Fulham fan who was behind the goal said he thought their man had lost control of the ball well before diving over the sliding Sullivan. It mattered not because that was third they didn't deserve and we decided to beat the rush. I heard the deflected fourth as were sped through the park (perhaps the table we publish in the programme should denote "deflected" goals against). My only regret was that we couldn't manage the goal that we deserved. It would have been some reward for all the kids that were there.

For what it's worth, Chris Solly was my man-of-the-match. As Blackheath Addick has already written, he was "outstanding." I thought our defence played admirably although it was interesting to see Rhoys Wiggins have his wings clipped across the half-way line. Danny Hollands was also finding the pace a bit tough in the middle and far too often his first reaction was to look for the safety of Sullivan. Pritchard was much bolder although Danny Green's contribution was limited to a rasper i the second half which Stockdale had to fist over the bar. Johnnie Jackson could probably have given a little more but I shouldn't be too harsh given the quality of the opposition. 


Anonymous said...

Dave, I watched the marvellous "blink and you miss them" highlights on ITV and on the pen incident, the ball shot out at right angles to the direction of the run before the dive - a pretty good indicator that Sullivan got the ball first.

We drank at the ground - £4 for a Guiness, lager or bitter that was OK, and if you went to the bar furthest from the gate you got served in a few minutes. And our boys got to watch the midlands cup tie too, which sort of kept them occupied.

Fantastic day out - superb atmosphere when nearly everyone was singing from start to finish(apart from the bloke next to me!)

Pembury Addick

Crowborough Addick said...

A great day out, the first time I have been to Fulham since the 1980's when we had Laurie Abrahams, and they had George Best, Bobby Moore and Rodney Marsh.

I was in the block nearest the players entrance, and was disgusted when we conceded the penalty by the mindless thuggery when 5 or 6 set upon a 60 year old for no apparent reason. Well done to the two blokes who went to his aid.

Dave said...

PA - I am no fan of drinking at football (great at rugby and cricket) but you might have had the better deal pre-match. It was over £4 a pint in the Dukes Head (I couldn't get served) and c £3.80 in the Bricklayers Arms. By contrast, we ended up aft the game in the Rose & Crown at the top end of the High Street which had no doormen, a decent local crowd and was under £3 a pint for London Pride.

Please to hear your boys had a good day out. There were plenty who were offended by the behaviour of some of our followers. Personally, I could have strangled the bloke in front of me but managed to resist the overwhelming temptation.

Dave said...

CA - I think the game you are referring to was the opener of the 77-78 season! Pretty sure the great trio didn't play that day. It also wasn't one of the two matches the great Lawrie managed a goal for us. Sorry to hear there was bother where you were. Doesn't sound like it spoilt your day anyway.