Thursday 31 January 2013

As you were?

The transfer window closes tonight and after that you have to cope with what you've got. There may well have been plenty of calls and enquiries behind the scenes, there have certainly been loads of rumours, but it's looking increasingly unlikely that we will strengthen our squad.

Our rumoured targets have all moved on and the last hope of a new face may lie in whether or not we can offload BWP on loan to Swindon. That might free up some wages to bring someone in but on the basis that Di Canio is already paying some players wages and that Swindon are on the brink of Administration, it would seem unlikely. Bradders hasn't done much wrong in my eyes and I would rather he stayed than we gambled on another average striker.

The disappointment of the window is undoubtedly the loss of Antony Wordsworth to Ipswich Town. Midfield has been our biggest single problem and has dictated our formation and shortened our attacking options, especially at home. The loan move of Rob Hulse to the New Den was also a minor disappointment given his work rate and contribution whilst here, although we aren't short of similar quality strikers and he's hardly one for the future.

Our league form over the last two months probably hasn't helped matters. Winning and losing in fits and starts has had us kangarooing back and forth in the table and threatening to do something that has always looked unlikely i.e. mount a real play-off challenge. If Jiminez and Co were dithering about whether or not to spend any more money on this side, last Saturday's relative disaster probably made their minds up to soldier on.

All of this begs the bigger question about just how Jiminez gets out of his current predicament. It seems pretty clear he wants out but that he needs to recoup his investment (and presumably that of his backers) and the only way they look likely to be able to pull that trick off, is to get us promoted or at least seriously challenging. 

He looks increasingly like a gambler playing Brag and chasing his money. It's an uncomfortable position to be in and the empty feeling in the pit of your stomach hardly fuels you for the long-haul. The longer this goes on, the greater the chances that the current owners decide to cut their losses and bail out which would, inevitably, involve Administration and all it's attendant dangers.

I got into conversation with someone before Christmas who professed to know Tony Jiminez and his sister pretty well and he spoke very convincingly about his upbringing and personal wealth. If what I was told was largely true, and I was inclined to believe what I heard, Spanish Tone may have his own revenue stream that would be big enough to manage our current level of losses for longer than we might think. He is going to have to fund them for another year at least and is going to have to spend more if he is to make us PL contenders. That spending is obviously going to wait now until the Summer.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Charlton Athletic 1 v Sheffield Wednesday 2

There were ominous signs today as we entered the stadium. Queues at the turnstiles and all the seats taken in my row and those around us. The West and Covered End looked "normal" but the East was unusually full. The floaters were back following three wins in-a-row - cue disappointment.

We were unchanged which meant a strong bench. I still don't like 4-5-1 at home and whilst it did the trick against Blackpool in the last Valley showing, I think it cost us today. That and another poor use of substitutes.

Wednesday may be struggling but their away form has been decent, especially of late and it was clear to me that we had to put them away, given the chance. They didn't create much in the first half and we should have scored after half-an-hour when Matt Taylor kept what looked like an over-hit Dale Stephens' free kick in play, only to see his knock back headed off the underside of the bar with the goal yawning. As if to even things up, Wednesday missed a sitter a minute before the break when Hamer, Taylor and Morrison all went for the same header and it fell to one of theirs eight yards out but he shot too quickly and somehow screwed it wide.

After the break we were ahead with our first attack. Lawrie Wilson picked up a ball in our half and whilst we urged him forward he appeared to be dithering. He wasn't. He was giving the scampering Chris Solly time to get through midfield before he fed him down the right. Solly drove into space before turning into the box and floating a back-post cross to Pritchard. Pritch had time to see Johnnie Jackson's advance and he picked him out. Jacko's left peg did the rest and the ball rattled in off the far post.

Wednesday were spurred into action and the obvious aerial bombardment ensued for ten to fifteen minutes. We were defending these well but they are such a big side and are so accustomed to hanging high balls in, that you cannot let them pressure you for too long or you will, almost inevitably, concede. We were breaking out but it needed a more concerted effort and some responsibility which we didn't have, everyone being content to defend. 

Scott Wagstaff had enjoyed a fantastic first-half, for a welcome change having focused all of his efforts on harrying Buxton, which he did so effectively that the right-back was booked for repeatedly fouling him. He then fashioned a great chance to put us two-up. Having cut inside his man on the break, he fired low to Kirkland's right and his shot beat the sprawling keeper but cannoned back across the box off the upright. Now was the time to turn up the heat but we failed. Wilson and Solly managed a couple of bursts down the right but there was no-one in the middle and Wednesday were able to clear their lines and resume the bombardment.

Kermorgant deserved a break or some support and Ricardo Fuller or BWP should have been thrown on. There was even a case for Dervite joining as a deep lying midfielder, but we did nothing. I told my wife that we were going to concede an equaliser and it duly arrived from another aerial assault. Reda Johnson finally managed a clean header and it looped beyond Hamer. Wednesday had Leroy Lita on and Madine had also joined the action. We didn't counter and the momentum got them a winner as a deflected Lita shot wormed it's way in.

With five minutes of added time we belatedly threw Fuller and Wright-Phillips on - too little, too late. The bumper 20,292 gate (only 1900 visitors who apparently sell-out every away game) headed for the exits - "same old Charlton."

Wednesday 23 January 2013

3000 to Palace and Wordsworth to sign

The extra 400 match tickets for Selhurst a week on Saturday sold out today, meaning we will have 3000 Addicks roaring the boys on as we seek sweet revenge for our 1-0 home defeat in September. Palace have been limping of late and their automatic promotion push looks like it's turning into a play-off challenge at best. Now would be an even better than normal time to stick a spoke in their wheels.

Before that we go looking for our fourth successive league win against another side we could do with getting  one over. I thought Sheffield Wednesday rode their luck when we played them up there last month but we weren't at our best. I am expecting a significant change on Saturday and can see us getting the result and moving into the top ten which would be a real confidence boost for Palace.

The other notable news is that we appear very close to signing Antony Wordsworth. As I have said previously, this would be a super signing. Like Lawie Wilson, Wordsworth was a stand-out competitor against us last season and he has impressed against us on other occasions too. This would be an even better signing if we don't lose any key players in the window. I have been in the camp that thinks Stephens to Villa for anything about £1.3m would be good business and I am sticking with that but will add that Dale has been far more impressive in recent matches and if he can maintain the more positive attacking contribution whilst avoiding being caught badly in possession, then I am ready to eat Humble Pie.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Blackburn Rovers 1 v Charlton Athletic 2

Another fine battling performance away from home. Our third win in Lancashire   against the B's and our third win in-a-row which has edged us very quietly into the top half of the table. Surprisingly, we find ourselves just two points behind the stuttering Lions and back to just seven from the play-offs (we can dream).

Chris Powell went with the same starting line-up and his preferred 4-5-1 formation against Michael Appleton's first Rovers eleven. The Venky family had flown in from killing chickens in their Indian homeland for the feast but will, presumably, be feeling a little hungry after their side's dismal showing. Apart from Kazim-Richards and Rochina, we heard very little from the CAFC Player commentary team (BBC London?) about any other Rovers players in the first half. We managed to keep the home fans quiet and took the lead on 26 minutes. A Chris Solly cross on the break was knocked out to Dale Stephens who chested it down and drove it back over Kean's head in the Blackburn goal from 25 yards. It crashed in off the underside of the bar and Charlton were in town. We should have scored immediately after but Jackson and Wilson missed chances after the ball ricocheted around the Rovers six yard area. 

Blackburn looked lack-lustre and we eased to the break. After half-time, Rhodes let us know he was there with an immediate effort and he followed that a minute later with a diving header that gave Hamer no chance. I was expecting the roof to cave in after that but Blackburn couldn't follow-up and the pendulum swung back towards the Addicks. On 64 minutes Yann Kermorgant out-jumped the Rovers central defence to win a ball crossed in by Bradley Pritchard after good work by Johnnie Jackson, and Kermogant thumped his header past Kean for the lead. The natives outside the Darwen End were getting restless and having been booed off at half-time were in no mood to find themselves behind again. Charlton capitalised by keeping the ball and slowing things down. Danny Murphy did his bit with an injury which required stoppage time and the match ebbed away for Rovers. They through Nuno Gomez on before the end but we countered by bringing Dorian Dervite on to stand in front of Taylor and Morrison. The locals had been flooding out long before the final boss greeted the whistle.

We get a chance next week to win our fourth successive league match for the first time this season when we get another crack at Sheffield Wednesday. We really owe them for that aberration up there last month. February's fixtures present a much stiffer challenge as we have to visit three of the top four in Palace, Hull and Leicester. However, we have a nice cushion and plenty of sides below us, so we should be able to go to them looking for more than just a point.

If only we had managed to get our game going at the Valley this season...

Friday 18 January 2013

Cheers Colin

So sad to learn this week of the premature death of Addick fanatic, Colin Holland. Colin's beaming smile, usually from behind a pint of real ale, has met my own for over thirty years home and especially away. Until today I never knew his surname, such are so many footballing friendships.

Over the years, mates and I have had the same game-plan for away matches. First, lose the gobby rabble and the attention of the local constabulary. Second, head towards one or two of the best real ale pubs in town. Third, time your exit via taxi if necessary to maximise quzzling time and still see kick-off. Colin and mates obviously worked to a similar plan and did their pub homework in advance like us because if we bumped into other Addicks, more often than not he was there.

Cheers  Colin.

The Northern Lights

Had to share this fantastic photo which was taken on Wednesday night from the West Beach at Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth (35 miles from Inverness). There are those who will tell you that you cannot see the Aurora Borealis from as low a latitude as the Moray Firth.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Charlton Youth 2 v Chelsea Youth 3

I had every intention of going last night and checking on our future. That was before I got absorbed in another day in the office and found myself home a train home after 6pm listening to five very posh students on their way for a night out. I thought they might be heading for the O2 as they were talking about visiting a local pub "beforehand." One of them was sporting a Man United scarf, the sort that has a date and commemorates a match. I could see the 2012 but couldn't make out the opponents. Then it dawned on me - they were heading somewhere to watch the Man U v West Ham match on Sky. I has seen Micky Bergman and Son at Charlton station through the morning darkness in casual clothes with a holdall en route to cheer on their beloved Hammers.

I was wrong. As I listened for more clues, the girl in the group wondered if they would have reserved seating and enquired if they would be behind a goal. Yes, they were headed for the Valley and remembered our date with Chelsea. Given their cultured tones and uni conversation I assumed they were Chelsea fans, although I am sure I caught a glimpse of the sword on that Man U scarf before we reached Charlton - 2012? As I scurried along Floyd Road I was impressed by the number of people heading for the game at twenty to seven. This looked like it would be far bigger than the usual 2000 gate for these high profile youth cup fixtures. 

Sean's burger van opposite the Club Shop was open and he had a decent queue. It was then that I saw the fixtures board and clocked that kick-off was 7pm! I wasn't going to manage a quick enough turnaround as I had a small job to do when I got it. Oh and it was perishing cold or "Pearl Harbour" as our Cockney cousins might put it. As I prepared to go, the warmth of home got to me and I was reminded that Africa was on at nine. Sorry lads but I wimped out.

Blackheath Addick proved more of a man than me though, so I have caught up with another glorious failure. As he says, there is no shame in defeat to Chelsea given their pulling power huge net and we ran them very close into injury time.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The Cup that cheers

On a cold January evening, warming news that the home fixture with Sheffield Wednesday a week on Saturday will go ahead, weather permitting, after Massive Wednesday were knocked out of the F A Cup at tinpot MK Dons. The much-anticipated collapse of Crystal Palace's season gathered momentum with a 4-1 extra-time trouncing at Grim Stoke. The loss of Zaha should be the icing on the cake and hopefully there will be no loan-back. Good news too that the hopeless QPHa have extended their F A Cup interests just as their overdue Premier league exit begins to set fast. Good Old Harry is doing what he does best and is busy trying to burn as much of their owners' cash in the transfer window as he can. It should all intensify their hangover come May. If the Ha's can go all the way in the F A Cup they really could emulate Portsmouth. Enjoy it whilst it lasts Superhoops.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Charlton Athletic 2 v Blackpool 1

With temperatures plummeting, Charlton ground out a very welcome and routine looking win in front of 16,846 supporters this afternoon. 

Charlton's 4-5-1 formation with Yann Kermorgant the lone striker were very slow to start this match and Blackpool should have taken a lead in the second minute. Nathan Delfouneso beat Chris Solly down their left and his back post chip was met by an unmarked Kevin Phillips. Kev's downward header beat Ben Hamer but Matt Taylor, I think it was, managed to hook the ball onto the post and out to safety. Blackpool continued to press but after ten minutes Charlton got a grip and our five man midfield of Jackson, Pritchard, Stephens, Wilson and the returning Wagstaff finally came into the game which allowed Evina, Taylor, Morrison and Solly to catch their breath. 

As 20 minutes approached we began to string a succession of passes together and Blackpool fell back behind the ball. We forced a corner from the left and then another from the right and from that we cut-out a ball out of defence and it was played first-time back into the box where Johnnie Jackson took a touch, turned and hit a cross shot which looked underhit but it caught Gilks flat-footed and had the perfect line for the far post where it crept in. There was no immediate response from the Seasiders and I was disappointed we didn't go for the jugular.

The game was stopped for several minutes for a head injury to Taylor who re-started sporting a white bandage that looked increasingly like a bobble hat following a back-post header which went close.

The game rolled on until the stroke of half-time when a more determined looking Charlton attack saw Kermorgant meet a back-post ball in space but his strong header was blocked by Gilks. It rebounded out to Scott Wagstaff who fired home from ten yards to give Charlton a two upgoal cushion we hadn't really done enough to justify.

After the break we pushed on looking for a third and Wilson was busy down the right. He made several good breaks and got decent crosses in but we were unable to capitalise. It was crying out for a second striker but Blackpool weren't really troubling us and we soldi ered on. Gary Taylor-Fletcher came on after an hour as caretaker Steve Thompson looked to change the game. Fletcher-Taylor threw himself into the match and saw plenty of the ball but his first touch had deserted him and he looked a fraction of the player I am used to seeing.

Nathan Eccleston was given a polite round of applause as he entered the fray for the Tangerines after 68 minutes but Blackpool were really struggling to break us down now and we put men behind the ball. Tiago Gomez was also thrown on for Kevin Phillips before the end but it was too little, too late. Nathan Eccleston did manage a 90 minute consolation when he swept home a low volley from the edge of the area which beat Hamer inside his left post. 

Another high point of the game was the debut for Calum Harriet who replaced Waggy after 74 minutes and whose pace gave Blackpool something else to worry about. He certainly looks worth another go soon.

The win moves us up to 14th, eleven points above Wednesday in 22nd (playing this evening) and seven points behind Watford in 7th. Blackburn will be a big test next week but if we can get something there and our match with Sheffield Wednesday the week after is not postponed owing to their extended run in the F A Cup (they have to beat MK Dons), things could get a little bit more exciting.

Friday 11 January 2013

First Saturday Valley win of the season?

Blackpool bring their Tangerine Dream to the Valley tomorrow for what should be another even-Steven contest. Blackpool sit a point and a place above us in the Championship. However, the signs are that the timing of this fixture could give us our first Saturday home win of the season.

Having already won at Bloomfield Road, we should be heavy favourites to do the double here but, as Ipswich will testify, winning at the Valley has been easier than beating Charlton at your own place. The problem for the visitors is that things don't appear to have been going very well this week. Their fledgling new manager of nine whole weeks appears to have had his head turned by Blackburn Rovers and in spite of a non co-operation approach by his employers, he didn't run training yesterday according to an informative Tweet from Tom Ince. Contrast Michael Appleton's approach here with that of Terry Butcher who declined an offer from Barnsley to leave his Inverness Cally outpost because he has unfinished business with the Highland outfit. Barnsley might lack glamour but I can assure you it's a huge step-up from the Cally, even if Inverness has plenty more to offer than living in the industrial wasteland of the Republic of South Yorkshire.

Our home form has also nudged Chris Powell's conscious and he has spoken about the need to tackle it this week. He also found it hard to dodge the question about rumours linking us with unsettled Antony Wordsworth at Colchester, a player who has always impressed when I have seen him, and conceded that we are interested. Wordsworth is a natural footballer and at 24 has time to mature into an accomplished midfielder. I would be delighted to see him grace the Valley turf in red.

The transfer gossip also suggests we are ready to listen to offers for Bradley Wright-Phillips which would scarcely have seemed credible twelve months ago. Bradders has been unproven at Championship level and the step up was always going to be an ask but I don't think he's had enough of a chance as yet. The real problem is that he has dropped down the pecking order since the arrival of Fuller and Hulse whilst Danny Haynes has taken his chances in the games he has been fit enough to play. I think the move to tout BWP also suggests we are likely to see Rob Hulse back at the Valley in some capacity and it was interesting to hear Powell refer to him in the present tense when questioned this week. 

The trip to Ewood Park next week looks formidable given their resurgence without Henning Berg, so please, can we take the three points on offer at the Valley tomorrow? There's also a delicious opportunity, if we can win tomorrow, to follow-up with another double by beating Michael Appleton again next week if he does take the Rovers job. The unsettling influence at Rovers might also work in a perverse way given their form as a manager-less outfit.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Our dismal cup record since 1947

I had to do it, it's been knawing away at me since the final whistle yesterday.

News that our F A Cup record was perfectly balanced with 82 wins and 82 losses surprised some people and gave a flattering view of things. You could be forgiven for thinking that we have actually been much better than you thought.

Well, you need to consider that for almost the entire history of the competition, you have only been able to lose one match per season because you are then out and you are, of course, able to win more than one per season. On that basis, parity isn't quite so impressive.

However, I know from personal experience since the 1970's that our record has been worse than that so I had to delve deep into the recesses of the loft to satisfy myself. I reckon we have actually won 51, drawn 32 and lost 66 F A Cup matches since we won the competition in 1947. Out of 66 seasons, we have failed to win an F A Cup match in 34 of them, having been knocked out in our only game. In 18 seasons we managed one win before being knocked out and only in 14 seasons have we managed to win two or more ties. 

The fact is, we have had only four "cup runs" in 66 years, namely in 1981 (went out at Ipswich), 1994 (went out at Manchester United), 2000 (went out at Bolton Wanderers) and 2006 (went out Middlesborough). Nothing better than the 6th Round. Tell me who has a less impressive record - no-one in London I bet.

If you aren't convinced, it's no better in the League Cup where we have won 52 and lost 60 since it was inaugurated in 1960 (some seasons the ties are two-legged). In 54 seasons we have gone out in the 4th Round six times and in 2007 reached the heady heads of the 5th Round (Quarter-Final!) when we fell foul to a giant killing act by the Chairboys at the Valley.

My lament yesterday was also because I think our record is only likely to deteriorate given our approach to cups in recent seasons where we have decided to rest players and experiment with the attendant consequences against other clubs who don't.

Note to Club

Include Cup matches in next year's season tickets (price accordingly) or there will be a sub-5000 gate for any similar repeat of the Leyton Orient or Huddersfield ties this season.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Charlton Athletic 0 v Huddersfield Town 1

Two fighting performances in succession was hoping for a bit too much and especially as the latest was a cup tie and a Valley match. You have to think we entered a pact with the devil regarding our F A Cup win 65 years ago, selling all future cup runs for for that one moment of glory.

Chris Powell promised to put a strong side out this year but in common with previous years and managers, he was being economical with the truth. We could have played Solly and Morrison, our two most consistent performers but both were non-starters. With Leon Cort absent to injury, that meant a first time Taylor-Dervite partnership which was to enable Jermaine Beckford to get the only goal of the game and to see Dervite get his marching orders for a professional foul on the same player early in the second-half. Solly's absence meant we lost Wilson's influence on the right flank as he had to play full-back.

As anticipated, David Button started in goal and after a few shaky first-half touches he came more into the match following a scrambling save to deny Vaughan, who for once had decided to shoot instead of dive. The midfield saw the ineffective Kerkar return for another value-less performance. Dale Stephens strutted about in midfield like the Premier League poseur I am praying he becomes (quickly). Bradley Pritchard did the shift alongside wonder-Dale and Jordan Cook brought a lack of experience to the right to ensure Kermorgant and Wright-Phillips were starved of wide crosses. To be fair, Cook tried his hardest and had a decent first-half and was subbed after an hour to allow Morrison to replace the sent-off Dervite.

I'm not going to say much about the game itself because there wasn't much to report and I am a trifle miffed as you may be able to tell. I think we managed a corner in the first half and two or three in the second-half as we really went for it. Jermaine Beckford settled the tie at ten past three when he got beyond his man and beat Button from close range. Oh and we managed a shot on target from a free-kick in the second-half which Smithies had to parry as it took a deflection towards the far post. 

An apology is what I expect from Chris Powell and some words of explanation might make me feel better. I have given up on League Cup football and I am afraid F A Cup matches against equal or lesser league opposition will now follow suit for me. If the club aren't going to take these matches seriously, then neither am I.

Finally, what on earth were Plod playing at today? They looked to be harassing any lads under 20 years of age with names being taken etc as I entered the stadium and they had formed some sort of cordon at the back of the East Stand to harass them even further as they left the away-fan baiting section at the end. To be clear, they (Red Divs?) had done nothing wrong and were no threat to anyone, except to their own personal reputation, which I think they gave up on long ago.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Who's up for the Cup?

Tuesday's excellent result at Vicarage Road meant a good start to the year for Addicks everywhere. Hopes of repeating the victory on Saturday at the Valley and progressing to the 4th round have taken a dip in the intervening couple of days as our squad has been depleted and I am reckoning on some fast movement in the newly opened window.

First, Leon Cort limped off on Tuesday at the death with a hamstring problem and I am guessing won't be ready for Saturday. Pretty boy Lawrie Wilson also sustained a broken nose which, depending on severity, may mean he also needs longer than four days recovery. If you add to that the ending of the loan signings of Seaborne, Frimpong and Hulse, we could be down to bare bones against Huddersfield Town.

The good news, if there is any, is that none of the loanees started at Watford and we have Dervite to come in for Cort and options for Wilson, although we won't be better off for it.

On the basis that we are going to need to strengthen our squad and first team options during the window, I think we will look for early moves to beat the market and to get maximum benefit. Re-signing loanees is the easiest option as we know them and they know us and they are still likely to be surplus to requirements at their home clubs. The prospects of a fourth round tie look decent and that might justify an early loan move on it's own.

With Rhoys Wiggins training again, Danny Seaborne looks unlikely to return and he has had mixed reviews. Personally, I thought he added something overall. Manny Frimpong didn't look entirely settled to me and I suspect he might be hankering after another go at Wolves. Again, I thought he did alright but I had hoped for a more creative contribution. That leaves Rob Hulse and he looks unlikely to be recalled into first team duty for QPR. Hulse was the most successful acquisition for me and I think the competition he provided for Kermogant, Haynes and Fuller was as valuable as his direct contribution. I would have him back and suspect he might be the most obvious returnee.

Outside of the loanees, our biggest risk is the loss of one or two of our better players to money moves. Money talks although it remains to be seen whether Jiminez has learnt the lesson with Stephens or if he is now desperate enough to sell. Hamer, Solly, Stephens and Pritchard are rumoured to be sparking interest. Stephens and Pritchard could be replaced relatively easily with as good if not better players but we will struggle to bring in as good a keeper as Hamer unless we go for an ageing Premier stopper (and that's short-sighted) and we won't be able to acquire as good a right-back as Solly for the fee he is likely to command. I think Pritchard has more improvement to come in his game and we should hang on if we can. Stephens can go now if we get a repeat £1.5m or higher offer. On the basis that this season is, realistically, now about consolidation, I would be happy only to see a couple of loanees join and us hang on to our existing squad. 

Sorry to hear that Andy Hughes may be forced to retire through injury although he was 35 yesterday and I suspect he is already looking at a back room role. He certainly has the experience and the personality.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Watford 3 v Charlton Athletic 4

I woke this morning down by the Medway to a beautiful blue sky and bright, if weak, winter sun. I took my sister-in-laws dog for an hour-long walk whilst the other adults slept off 2012. It was a fine morning which set me up for a lovely first day of New Year.

I was at my Mum's at 1pm and put on CAFC Player for my step-father before racing home and tuning in to find we had gone one-down after ten minutes. Not to panic, the Addicks at Vicarage Road were in good voice which told me more than the hapless BBC London commentators. We were having a go and had a goal disallowed before we drew level after 34 minutes courtesy of a Hoban own goal. Before I had settled there was a goal scream from CAFC Player and I held my breathe before hearing that Yann Kermorgant had thudded home a close-range header from a cross from Pritchard after good work down the flank by Wilson. Two-one at half-time and you knew it wasn't finished for us.

After the break it was all Watford in the opening exchanges as Gianfranco Zola's steeds reacted to their half-time team talk and they drew level after 53 minutes from the spot - our third successive penalty in the last three, Dervite having brought his man down in the box. It was hard to keep up after this as the commentary switched to other games and dropped out for up to a minute at a time (it really is a poor "service").

Geijo put Watford ahead on 68 minutes and I thought that was our lot. Just as I was bemoaning our luck, we raced down to the other end en masse and Yann Kermorgant was credited for the final touch as we again squared things up. Watford then scored at our end but this time the laugh was on them as a linesman's flag ruled it out. It was seat of the pants stuff and after another minute of silence my connection sparked into life to the sound of another goal being scored and I thought from the commentators voice that Watford had finally killed us off but the retelling was of a corner being headed in by Johnnie Jackson! There were 12 minutes left on the clock and as Charlton fans it was purgatory listening to the substitutions and our desperate defence as we clung on. I think they had another goal chalked off but it was hard to tell as we saw the game out and gained a justified revenge for Watford stealing the points at the Valley earlier in the season. 

It feels great to win on New Year's Day and it sounded like we we really went for it today which is what I have been asking for over the last couple of months. Yes we conceded three and could easily have lost it but the chance of three points has to be worth risking it rather than trying to grind out draws and hope to sneak the odd winner.

Plenty of other matches yet to come today but the win moves us to 16th for now and we are three points closer to Watford in 6th than we are to 22nd placed Bristol City. It's a pity we have the cup game next up because it would have been good to strike whilst the iron is hot but on the basis this season is about consolidation, perhaps we shouldn't be too hasty. The Blackpool game will come in it's own time and we need to be as ready for it as possible. 

Final thought today for Dave "Captain (Sensible)" Taylor who lost his fight against cancer yesterday. Ordinarily he would have been there today and he would have loved it - rest in peace Captain.