Monday, 5 October 2015

Charlton Athletic 2 v Fulham 2

They say you should never bet against your own side but I don't follow that. I have always been prepared to and it occasionally softens the blow. Yesterday was a case in point. Based on our league form, our thin squad and the Sky Hoodoo, I had anchored two accumulators with a Fulham victory.

When Conor McAleny wasted a golden opportunity in the opening minute to put us one-up I gave my wife a knowing smile. Karlan Ahearne-Grant's chance was nowhere near as easy but he was caught by Hangeland and I was sure it wasn't going to be our day. When Nicky Pope spilled a first-half free-kick and Fulham reacted quickest, I did feel slightly less pissed-off.

A largely unrecognisable Fulham side edged the first half but looked good value for a second goal. One name that was familiar was that of Ross McCormack, and whilst he looks to be living well on his big London wages, he was busy and increasingly direct. I told my wife we would leave once he had netted the second but as that came on the hour we persevered. There was no response and as good as we were left to right and right to left, up and down was not happening. Gudmundson and Solly whipped in a number of decent balls from the right but Watt and Ahearne-Grant were never going to capitalise. With ten minutes left Super Jacko was unleashed and he appear to run straight on and into the box to thunder home a header from off the bar from a corner.

The lack of leadership was so apparent at that moment. Jackson lead the team at pace back for the kick-off and his clenched fists urged us to get behind the side. We did and they upped their game. Suddenly Fulham were back-pedalling and their noisy contingent was finally rescued to nail-biting as we piled men into the box and slung balls over the top. We got to 90 minutes and four were added. Once two of them were gone I settled for the defeat our 90 minutes deserved and headed out.

The roar that greeted us on the concourse behind the East was too loud for it to be a Fulham third and it was quickly confirmed that Jordan Cousins had rescued Luzon's blushes and cost me the thick end of £600.

Left to mull it over in the White Swan over a few pints of Howbury (Bexley/Erith brewer) and homemade pork pies,  I came to the conclusion that today we were probably only a striker short (and maybe Kashi) of our strongest eleven and we were well short of the mark. I don't see Fulham as promotion contenders but our performance would suggest a lower half battle for the rest of the season. Our squad is too thin but it's our striking options that will ultimately leave us short of goals. Big Mak is probably worth no more than five a season and without Vetokele firing, Tony Watt cannot play the foil he so good at. Time and again yesterday he had two or three men to beat.

I haven't had time to check the attendance yesterday but the actual turnout was paltry. I was surprised that the Covered End sounded so loud given it looked so empty. Clearly, given the option of watching from home, several thousand decided not to bother. Transportation has been woeful in recent weeks but that is a really bad sign for the future. Still, I am guessing most of them were old gits who live in the past and whose opinion don't really matter. 

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