Thursday, 26 December 2013

Charlton Athletic 3 v Brighton & Hove Albion 2

Sometimes, supporting Charlton is a bit like being a 28 handicapper at golf. Every now and again you par a hole and you realise that it is a simple game and convince yourself you have cracked it. Today was one of those memorable days.

Brighton and Hove Albion arrived as a form side with a healthy 3000 backing and from the off they looked like they were out for the win. They passed around us for 20 minutes before the impressive Ulloa broke the deadlock after collecting a ball on the edge of the box, moving it from right to left before shooting early and sending the ball back across the adjusting Ben Alnwick. It was a well taken strike and it looked like we were in for a long afternoon.

However, we had stood up well to Brighton's passing and there was a sense of quiet determination about the Addicks and some unexpected confidence. We stuck at it and ten minutes later we silenced the visiting hordes when Lawrie Wilson rattled in an equaliser after a fine break down the left and a centre from Cameron Stewart which Kermogant controlled before finding Wilson in space on his right. We went in even at the break but there was much more to come in the second-half from the Reds.

Brighton started the second-half without the impressive Bruno although Inigo Calderon is an able replacement. Charlton picked up where we left off and got at the visitors. Stephens and Cousins were doing much better against Andrews and Bridcutt and we were finding space for Stewart and Wilson. Kermogant and Church were lively upfront against Upson and El-Abd who were solid. It was going to take something special to take the lead and on 52 minutes we got it. A lightning fast raid down the left flank with Wiggins and Stewart combining saw Brighton stretched and the ball in find it's way, once again, to Wilson at the back post. This time he had an opponent within three feet and he was presented with a half-chance. Sensing the opportunity and, perhaps buoyed by the presence of watching family members (he saluted the Upper West on both occasions he scored), he rifled a shot home high into the top right-hand corner beating Brezovan by inches in the Brighton goal.

Two-one up and there was a swagger to our play. Suddenly everything was going right for us and we were sweeping forward from the left and the right. Wiggins and Solly were joining the attack and Brighton were in danger of being swept aside. It took us another 17 minutes to settle the result but it was worth the wait. A poorly conceded free-kick by a tiring and increasingly cynical Albion saw Yann  Kermorgant facing goal 25 yards out. Much was made by the wall but Yann moved the ball back a crucial yard or two before Brighton's line settled. Brezovan looked too far set to the left of his goal so it was hardly a surprise when a Kermorgant Special sizzled over the wall and beat him easily to his right. 

After than we should have managed a fourth but the erratic Mike Russell was attempting to get every single decision wrong and, ably supported by the Lino in the Brighton half, we were halted from getting a fourth that could even have lead to a fifth the way we were going.

As it was we had to suffer the customary late scare. Brighton hit both posts from one attack before substitute Augustien made a late equaliser for Ulloa. We saw out the added minutes relatively comfortably for a memorable Boxing Day win.

Ben Alnwick was again steadfast between the sticks and deserves to retain pole position on merit. The back four were again outstanding and were unfortunate to concede twice. Richard Wood was excellent once again and he enables Michael Morrison to venture forward as he likes to be able to do. Wiggins and Solly were superb and won the match by enabling Stewart and Wilson to attack with such freedom.

Stephens and Cousins did very well in a congested midfield, especially in the second-half when Brighton noticeably lost their grip. Simon Church ran the channels looking for the ball and he made a few fine runs with one notably deep cross on the gallop which was headed clear at the back post to prevent a flying Kermorgant from notching again. Referee Russell somehow managed to award a goal-kick from that particular effort and if I were Matt Upson I would have been keen to let him know I had headed out.

Once again Chris Powell needs special recognition today for managing to keep the squad focused and to get them up for this performance despite the off-the-field shenanigans and uncertainties for most of the players. The fickle minority should take heed.

Elsewhere, Millwall were hammered 4-0 at Watford in which may be Steve Lomas' last match in charge (although we hope not). Palace tarnished the perfect ending with another 1-0 win, this time at Useless Villa courtesy of a last minute winner. Having said that, it should be all about what we do and we have a chance on Sunday for a rare back-to-back double against stumbling Wednesday who find themselves four points adrift of us. A seven point margin going into New Year would be marvellous.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Lomas has gone - announced on the radio on my way home