Saturday, 25 February 2012

Charlton Athletic 2 v Stevenage 0

After some uncomfortable home performances of late, it's great to report that we beat high-flying Stevenage today and outplayed them in the process. All bar a thousand of the 26,546 gate will have left the ground buoyant, most talking about the five gilt-edged chances that Bradley Wright-Phillips missed.

Let me say straight away that I am not being too harsh on BWP. He scored probably the hardest of the lot, albeit with at the aid of a covering defender, but we should be pleased that  he made the positions for the rest and was thwarted twice by Chris Day in the second-half. The two first-half misses were probably the most profligate, one from a clear header eight yards out and the other a lob which beat the keeper but not the crossbar.

Other than that, we controlled the game and marshalled an organised Stevenage side who came looking for large parts of the first half. Like many sides we have played this season, they lacked a cutting edge and floundered on our back four. It was reassuring to see Chris Solly back in a familiar line-up and again he played a blinder. Most people will probably have two names in mind already when it comes to Player of the Year, but my current third place took a huge step forward today. Michael Morrison was again sure-footed at the back but the goal he scored on the hour had me punching the air and applauding a footballing centre-half who provides outstanding leadership.

It was a fine goal and one that spoke volumes. We were beginning to turn the screw and were getting men forward in numbers. After a probing move down our left flank, the ball was played across the edge of the box and on to Morrison in a little bit of space. I don't think he had "goal" in mind when the ball came to him but he could see in an instant that we were running out of options and his first touch was sublime. The ball sat up for him and begged to be struck. What a shot. He put his laces through the ball and drove it high into the top corner as Day clawed thin air. That was really the moment the game was won and it was only ever going to be a case of could we score again? Bradley Wright-Phillips managed that from an angled drive after out-pacing the Stevenage rearguard and slotting home courtesy of the covering defender but we had the agony of watching Day smother two one-on-ones with Bradders that could have put some gloss on the scoreline.

We are now 10 clear of Sheffield United, 14 in front of Hudders and MK and a massive 15 to Sheffield Wednesday. With two very winnable homes games coming up (Colchester and Notts County), we only need to pick up something at Chesterfield or Bournemouth in the next seven days to begin to get clarity on when promotion will be achieved. Leyton Orient (h), Oldham (a) and Walsall (h) are looking likely candidates to me.

I see today today that the club announced the last home game of the season against Hartlepool will be another discounted offering, so we will have the prospect of a full-house to parade the Trophy. I might be getting un-Charltonly ahead of myself here but it is very difficult to see how it could go wrong from here. The stats speak for themselves and this is already an all-time record-breaking season for Charlton Athletic. We only have one genuinely tough fixture left and that is at Huddersfield on 24th March.

We can sit back and enjoy the Steel City derby tomorrow safe in the knowledge that it shouldn't trouble us. Assuming we can avoid defeat at Chesterfield on Tuesday, we will have close to two thousand Addicks urging victory at Dean Court and I can't wait to be in that number.


Anonymous said...

Good report Dave - it was a very solid performance with probably our best line-up when they are all in form.

Shame that BWP couldn't add to his goal but at least he has broken his barren spell and he can't be in any doubt how much the fans are behind him! Morrison's goal was one that many midfielders would love to score too.

For once a price promotion didn't blow up in our face and this time returners and newcomers saw a committed and impressive performance.

Aside from a disastrous run of damaging injuries surely even Charlton can't mess this up now!


pete said...

I don't wish to piss on Bradders chips, thought he was outstanding today and very unlucky, but that goal could easily be referred to the "dubious goals comittee". I was pretty much in line and it looked to be going wide. I'll give BWP the benefit and say it was going to hit the inside of the post an creep in. Their goalkeeper definitely kept them in it.

Suze said...

I'm sure we all enjoyed the northern derby...