Sunday, 1 April 2012

Charlton Athletic 2 v Leyton Orient 0

The post-match beer talk was of which game promotion might be achieved in. Fate has suggested all season that it has to be at Carlisle and all signs are pointing to just that. The train cheapies have all gone and with £90 plus options being left, coaches are looking like the only realistic option for those yet to book. 

All that can wait for now as we contemplate following yesterday's 2-0 home win over a clogging Orient. Dale Stephens returned for Daryl Russell and Lee Cook was given a start on the left with Wagstaff on the right. Yann Kermorgant was preferred again upfront so Paul Hayes had to watch the game from the dugout. Leon Cort maintained his berth alongside Michael Morrison at the back. 

We made a cracking start with everyone wanting to know and were quickly swarming all over our opponents. After seven minutes Royce Wiggins made a trademark dart from an advanced position and raced in towards the near post. His burst dragged others into the box but it was Scott Wagstaff who got his toe to the short pass first and stabbed it beyond Rachubka for the opener.

Huge relief all around the Valley that we were ahead and could now sit back, relax and concentrate on putting in a performance. Unfortunately, all we managed to do was sit back and relax. The appropriately named Mr Brown (I wish they would put the referee's name up on the scoreboard with the players as it's often different from that printed in the programme) tried his best to ruin the result with some truly inept decisions. He turned down a decent BWP penalty appeal and disallowed a second goal for a handball that no-one seemed to see other than himself.

After that, we had to suffer the O's two best chances of the match before the break. Hamer saved one smartly from a fierce drive from outside the box and he reacted superbly to deny them again with an instinctive double-save as the ball pinged around our six yard box before being scrambled clear.

After the break the match become a turgid affair only illuminated by our second killer goal after 80 minutes. Dale Stephens had not enjoyed a particularly helpful first-half but he was all over the shop in the second-half. Caught in possession when he had the ball and struggling to close down space or manage a tackle when he didn't. I have my doubts that he will be able to step-up in the Championship. We were also getting very little from the wide men and I was confident N'Guessan would come on for Lee Cook who was anonymous. Either that or Pritchard for the struggling Stephens. As it was, it was N'Guessan who came on for Wright-Phillips which baffled me. Nonetheless, it helped anchor the result.

With 80 minutes on the clock, Lee Cook survived a tackle in his own half where he nearly lost possession and turned to hare down the flank as the Orient rearguard fought to keep up. Cook drove on and then delivered a gloriously swirling cross to which the charging N'Guessan locked-on. I was out of my seat screaming "gooaaallll!" as N'Guessan made impact from eight yards plumb centre. Rachubka simply had no chance. N'Guessan ran to celebrate in now customary fashion in front of the appreciative East Stand. For a Millwall employee, he looks remarkably eager to impress the Valley faithful and shows no signs of being here only to help out.

It was a rare moment of quality in an otherwise drab match which Russell Slade's side brought nothing to except a flurry of bookings. Lisbie and Mooney did zilch upfront and it was all clog behind them.

I was interested to read Scoops' views concerning Player of the Year because Pete and I had a very similar conversation during the second-half yesterday. Wiggins was a shoe-in for the award a couple of months ago and yet, without really putting a foot wrong, Chris Solly's continuing brilliance has possibly nudged him ahead at this stage. That's if we can overlook Michael Morrison whose contribution has been so consistent and commanding.

Onwards and upwards!


Anonymous said...

Reckon it will go to the very last game, we jst arn't convincing at the moment..haven't been for a while to be honest, both Wednesday and Utd will push us all the way and I can see it gong to the wire with regards to the title..Sheff Utd have a pretty decent run in,Wednesday are paying fairly well still must keep the faih ay?

Geoff said...

Our promotion will be confirmed on 21 April, Dave, after we beat Wycombe minus G Doherty, but the Blades will be champions after we bugger up the last game of the season as in 8 of the last 9 final games (or whatever the stat is).

Solly and Wiggins are outstanding, the best since Young and Powell or Humphrey and Reid. They should share the PotS trophy. Sad that our midfield seems to have "gone". Perhaps Stephens is just not as good a player as he looked in the first five games, or maybe the injury has lasting effects. And Dutch Danny, an earlier contender for PotS is simply knackered. Shows the importance of strength-in-depth for next season.