Saturday, 7 April 2012

Oldham Athletic 0 v Charlton Athletic 1

I saw a piece recently about Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute-mile back in 1954. Bannister had come within a couple of seconds of the record previously but needed to find two men who were naturally quicker than him but who didn't have the lungs to break the record themselves. Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway were the two he needed and they managed push him to a position he needed to break the record. The parallels with our current promotion push were obvious.

Prior to our game at Oldham this afternoon, Sheffield Wednesday won a tough Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield to go within five points of us. No doubt Owls fans are cock-a-hoop but the sobering reality is that they will be arriving back in Sheffield this evening knowing that they are back to 8 (eight) points behind the pace. We have made all the running and we look like we have the legs to win the race.

Bradley Wright-Phillips dropped to the bench today as Djombo "Dany" N'Guessan was given a start with Yann Kermorgant up front. Other than that, it was the same side that beat Orient with Johnnie Jackson fit enough to warm the bench. That meant Lee Cook and Waggy had the wide berths with Hollands and Stephens in central midfield. 

Resting Bradders with two games in forty-eight hours was probably a good move and given the opposition, it made sense to play N'Guessan today against the Oldham lummoxes. The Gallic forward line certainly has the physical presence to mix it.

The first-half was a drab sounding affair on a pudding of a pitch with four bookings before Danny Hollands received a straight red card after 30 minutes for a two-footed tackle. He's not a dirty player but he does have a tendency to tackle with both feet off the floor. It wasn't a decent game but the commentary was interrupted every few minutes to bring us news and goals at other games. CAFC Player is a "must have" for diehards but it's hardly a compelling service and is invariably free to air if you can get BBC London. The only saving grace was that we heard Birmingham's three opening goals against Palace. Oldham managed to level things at 10-men-apiece before the break when M'Voto got his marching orders for another assault on Kermorgant. The referee was booed off the field at the break after we had failed to create a goal-scoring opportunity in forty-five minutes.

During the break I was hoping for another "game of two halves' that typified the first-half of our season and I was rewarded within minutes of the restart when Yann Kermorgant got on the end of a raking Royce Wiggins cross to score at the far post. The 603 travelling fans let their presence be known with  resounding chorus of "Top of the League." 

There really wasn't a lot more football to report on. The commentators were far more interested in whether or not Trevor Kettle would brandish more cards or not following every challenge. Bradley Pritchard's fresh legs were introduced after 70 minutes for N'Guessan before Kettle got to brandish a second yellow for Wagstaff and a sending off for slipping into Furman in what sounded like an accidental foul. That meant Matt Taylor joined the action for Lee Cook as we concentrated on protecting our one goal advantage for the last 15 minutes. Kermorgant nearly netted a second with a long-range chip which beat the Latics keeper but also missed the far post (CAFC Player was bringing us Wigan's equaliser at the time).

Trevor Kettle managed to flourish another Oldham yellow before we entered the five minutes of card time when he squeezed another two bookings in. It will be easier to report who wasn't booked or sent off. Job done and we are on the home straight heading for the tape.

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