Monday, 18 April 2016

Charlton Athletic Nil v Derby County 1

Posting late after a busy weekend. A mate and I joined the Upbeats Walk on Saturday and along with well over 100 others we took a nine mile pre-match scenic route from Sparrows Lane to the Valley. I was pleased to see some familiar faces on the walk and not just the former players who joined us. Amazing how quickly the three and half hours flew by as we shared the troubles of this season and contemplated what the close season holds for our favourite football club.

After a quick post-walk pint in the Rose we went on to the Oak to meet a few more friends before the game. It was there that another Charlton regular was spitting feathers at having been been told "you know what you can do if you don't like it" by a ticket office employee after he complained at the £26 price of a North Upper seat for the match. Apparently Derby was designated a 'Gold' match? As a direct result he was adamant Saturday was his last match now until they're gone but I was left wondering which games will be 'Gold" next season.

To the match then, and it was really a summation of the season in 90 minutes. Frustrating and ultimately disappointing. We looked to be able to compete with Derby but were a few players short on quality, too easily put under pressure and unable to take the chances that did come our way. I have defended Morgan Fox on many occasions but he had a poor game on Saturday. Fanni and Tex were solid in front of Pope, who made the save of the season. I thought Chris Solly looked a tad dejected but put in his usual shift. 

In midfield, Cousins over-ran the ball too often and lost possession needlessly as a result. Diarra was overworked and neither of the central midfielders got much support from Gudmundson. Harriott was livelier but struggled to make any real impression on the Derby back line, although he did whistle a first-half shot just wide of Carson's right-hand upright. All of which meant Vetokele and Lookman were often dropping back to get the ball, leaving them with too much to do when they did get it.

We should have taken the lead just before the hour when Igor Veokele dinked a header towards the back stick but had to watch it bounce back off the foot of the post before being put out for a corner. From the resulting inswinger, Jorge Teixera powered home a header but momentum carried him into Scott Carson and that was enough for the officials to disallow it. Almost inevitably, Derby stormed downfield from the free kick and forced a corner from which Johnny Russell applied the finishing head in front of the Derby fans to win the match. 

We will be relegated tomorrow night at Bolton and will then have to gird our loins for the visit of a Brighton side closing in on automatic promotion and who scored five on Friday night. It promises to be a lively day with more  protesting planned against Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire. I fully expect us to lose again as our season fizzles out completely.

There is talk of a buy-out and even an asking price of £38m, although that is very much wishful thinking. Anyone acquiring a Championship club and selling it two years later as a League One outfit isn't going to get their money back, let alone double it. Sorry Roly but this is going to cost you a lot more than a new pair of shoes and I am afraid you have no-one else to blame other than yourself and your Chief Executive who has exacerbated your losses by managing to shrink the top line as well as the bottom one. 

We have to hope the end comes quick and is not protracted as the last two changes of ownership have been. When a new one does finally arrive, they will have a golden opportunity to milk the returning goodwill and gratitude of thousands of supporters who have deserted the Regime. A competent Chief Executive should be able to turn that into revenue and profit growth wish should give us a shot in the arm, although we are clearly going to need one by then. 

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