Sunday, 14 August 2016

Charlton Athletic 1 v Northampton Town 1

Booed-off at half-time, they left the field to a ripple of applause at the end. An acceptable result given the start we have made and the dire first-half but we might look back on this as a poor result - Northampton were all-over-the-shop when we eventually had a go at them in the second-half.

The only real talking point in the team selection was the absence of Roger Fucking Johnson. The youngster Konsa was risked in his place as Russell Slade decided to swerve the hostile reception his selection would have provoked had he strutted arrogantly onto the pitch after his tirade at his own supporters at Bury last week. There was a highly hypocritical piece in the programme from 'the senior management team' yesterday about having learned lessons again and how well prepared we are for our promotion campaign. One lesson they obviously haven't learnt yet is how to acknowledge when you make a mistake and to apologise.  

Johnson was a sub and he got a feel for the reception he will get when Slade does eventually reintroduce him as he warmed up on the line in the second half. Bauer was also a sub and my guess is he will be the first choice when fully fit. As it was, Konsa started cautiously but he settled and looked very comfortable in the second-half once we found our feet going forward. 

I spoke the other day about that horribly predictable feeling about going one-down at home and it took 15 minutes yesterday. Potter got space on our left and his deep cross was headed back across goal by Revell and it beat Rudd at the far post. Harry Beautyman had another header before the break which might have moved the result beyond us but his effort flashed wide. Charlton were poor and struggled to find any momentum. It's been pointed out that our midfield lacks pace and that was really the problem although Holmes saw plenty of the ball and plenty of close attention from his former colleagues who were keen to bundle him over at every opportunity.

Just like most of last season, it turned out to be a game of two halves for us and, mercifully, we were significantly better after the break. We had most of the possession and played a third further up the field. Northampton may have decided to try and contain us after the restart but it didn't work. They gave us space which we took and suddenly we were creating opportunities and they were back-pedalling. Jose and Magennis were pulling their back line about and Homes was firing balls into the box which made the Cobblers very nervous. Crofts and Jackson had more time and space to pick up on clearances and maintain the pressure. 

Just short of the hour, another Charlton attack fed a ball through the middle up to Ajose who ran on and squared it as Northampton fell back. I'm unsure who made the next pass but it went through the heart of the Cobblers defence and picked out an accelerating Jackson who saw the goal and duly finished it. He may lack mobility in midfield but Johnnie seems to get an extra yard when he sees a goal.

After that we should really have won the game. Botaka came on for the relatively quiet Foley and Lookman for the tiring and bruised Holmes. Botaka struggled to beat a man but Lookman was hurtling past them at every opportunity. He won a free-kick 20 years out which he and Ajose appeared to argue over. Lookman won that debate and it took a sprawling stretch from Smith in the Town goal to turn his effort around the post, I know we are in League One and will get poorer referees but I had to laugh out loud when the ref produced his spray to mark the ten yard line for the free-kick. He marched two yards past the wall and began his line. As he sprayed it out the retreating wall approached his line, so he simply curved it back a few feet towards Lookman - hilarious.

There was a Card-lead picket of the club shop before the match where placards urged us to buy the Protest shirt and not the Regime one. The home fans were supportive of the side and there were no protest songs although I think we would have heard them had things not changed quickly in the second-half. The Club's food and drink outlets were relatively quiet which is a reliable factor for the anti-Regime mood. It was good to see the team sheet on the big screen again although the actual crowd looked ok, it was nowhere near the 11,500 posted. My guess is there were no more than 8,000 maximum given absent season ticket holders and comps who didn't bother. Tuesday encounter with Shrewsbury should be a more realistic view of what we can expect this season. 

I also noticed that the minimum prize for the Valley Draw tickets was £1000 which must have cost the club £500 given the prizes had dwindled to several hundred pounds last season. Vally Gold was also offering a bumper £5000 which was won, I am pleased to say, by one of the ever-faithful Tondeur family.

A few pints in the Swan pre and post match and it wasn't a bad day, although it could and should have been much better.

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