Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Charlton Athletic 0 v Colchester United 2

I supposed it's bound to happen. I mean, going unbeaten all season at home is pretty remarkable, although this has been a pretty remarkable season so far. A thirty yard strike and deflected charge-down from a casual Hamer clearance were all it took. 

This most disappointing thing for me (other than our lowest gate of the season at 13,600 odd) was that there was 70 minutes between the goals and we couldn't score. Colchester are a big side and they were well organised. The early strike from Antony Wordsworth who was allowed to turn and shoot from distance gave the U's something to defend and their midfield fell back to congest the box and make it difficult for us. Having said that, we carved lumps out of them at times in the first half and deserved to have gone in on even terms. Jackson twice drove wide of goal having drifted in from the left to collect through balls and Green and Wright-Phillips also had decent chances after fine Charlton moves.

What we needed after the break was a sustained spell of pressure and more movement from the whole side when we attacked. Unfortunately, it was largely the ball carrier and one or two around him who were moving at any one time. We got plenty of balls into the box and won lots of flicks and knockdowns but they invariably fell to yellow shirts or a yellow shirt was close enough to tackle or block the follow-up. 

It wasn't falling for us and I thought we should have made a double substitution before 70 minutes. We didn't and Steven Gillespie managed to charge-down a clearance that Hamer delayed unnecessarily and he saw the deflection loop back over our keeper and into the net. Gillespie had come very close to this feat minutes earlier so Hamer can't say he wasn't warned. I should say that he makes a huge number of downfield clearances every game and is very much a part of the back four's arsenal but he got it badly wrong tonight and, hopefully,he will learn his lesson. 

Unfortunately, that was the cue to introduce Haynes but at two down it was always going to be a big ask to get back on level terms. By this time the crowd were getting anxious and appealing for everything and it seemed to encourage a few of our players to go down when perhaps they would have been better staying on their feet and chasing hard. 

I think that was the first home league match we have failed to score in, so you have to hope the players come out determined to atone for it on Saturday. Beating Notts County would be a better victory and I expect us to do it. I will miss it as I am will be in Dublin, desperate to see Scotland win a game in the 6 Nations before the Wooden Spoon encounter with Italy.

By way of some compensation this evening, Sheffield United were beaten again, 3-2 at Walsall and MK Dons somehow lost at home to Yeovil Town. Only Huddersfield and Sheffield United managed to convert their home wins and that won't make much difference in the grand scheme of things. We are still 14 points clear of third and we are counting those games down.

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