In professional football, confidence is an incredibly powerful thing. Too often this season we have lacked confidence or lost confidence during matches, typically by going a goal down or when other sides have responded to our conservative approach to taking a lead by coming at us and managing an equaliser. Our home form tells this story vividly.
Yesterday, at struggling Barnsley, Bradley Pritchard scored early (third minutes) to give us a spring in our step and after twenty minutes Johnnie Jackson made it two. With seventy minutes left and under no pressure, we could relax and play with confidence. In contrast, Barnsley, who have done very well in recent games to grab a potential lifeline from relegation, lost their confidence. After the break we continued to notch goals as the Tykes became more frustrated and ill-disciplined, eventually having two men sent off which obviously made our task a lot easier.
Six-nil away then - a Charlton record. Congratulations to the Loyal Away 500 who will forever be able to say "I was there." I think fellow blogger, Blackheath Addick made the trip, so I am waiting for a first-hand account in glorious technicolour.
If the Charlton community was feeling pretty pleased with ourselves at 5pm yesterday, it got a bit better as we were able to revel in the schadenfreude of Millwall supporters letting themselves down again on one of football's biggest stages. The combination of all-day boozing, no-one else to fight, losing and what I suspect was some genuine friction between regulars and glory-hunters, they managed to brawl between themselves across the seats for much of the second-half and then with the police when they finally decided that they had to exert some control.
There will undoubtedly be repercussions. Millwall are used to this but what more can their club do? They were very bold with their membership policy a number of years ago and their meagre home gates are as much a result of their determination to ban the dregs as them being an unfashionable club. I know people who work for Millwall and who are employed with their marketing and club management and they absolutely cringe at events like this. Yes, they enjoy their aggressive reputation and the Dockyard history but they always want this to be about the approach of their teams to playing games with heart and by supporting their side with passion and noise. They absolutely detest the hooligan hangers-on who only turn up for a bundle and who can't work out why the team has changed so much since they were last at a match. The trouble is, the rest of us know know or don't care about the "how's" we only see "what" happens and we know it isn't to do with "other supporters" or "infiltrators" etc. There are just too many "wrong-uns" who follow their club and on days like yesterday they become the mindless majority.
On a final note and thinking about confidence again, you have to wonder if Millwall might be in big relegation trouble. They have six games left but are now only 3 points above 22nd placed Barnsley. They have to play Watford 3rd (h), Huddersfield 6-Pointer (a), Blackburn 6-Pointer (h), Forest 7th (h), Palace 4th (h) and Derby (a). Probably too many home games but their home form has been questionable. The Bookie would tell you they have more chance of going down than we have of making the Play-offs.