Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cutting It Fine!

Charlton Athletic 1 Blackburn Rovers 0

Wow! Doesn't it feel good to be a Charlton supporter today - exultant after an injury time winner, off the foot of the Premiership table, and able to smile at the effort our team put in once more.

I would also like to thank all of the fans who went to the game last night for creating an excellent atmosphere, and supporting the players throughout the match. As mentioned on another blog, the roar of expectation that went up when the injury time board was shown indicating two minutes to play was a huge filip to the team, and showed just how much the fans wanted the team to win.

There just didn't seem to be any fall guys out there for Charlton; all the animosity was directed at the opposition - Robbie Savage, Tugay, Lucas Neill, Emerton, and Henchoz all got plenty of stick from around my seat.

And this fed back onto our team, including Lloyd Sam who did well; a reasonable full debut. Not the great match that TV implied he had, but better than some first starts in recent times. If Lloyd had longer studs (he slipped over a lot...), a little more luck (when the ball bobbled from Dazza's cross and he skied it over the bar), and ref Chris Foy had agreed with 23,000 others (plus TV opinion) and given a penalty when Neill fouled him, then we would be raving. He also played up front which was a slight surprise, and didn't Dazza look grateful to have a strike partner?!?

Bryan Hughes and Radostin Kishishev also came into the team in a three man central midfield, part of a 4-3-1-2 formation.

All played their part; the defence was solid - well, more solid than it has been, and looked good once Traore had been replaced by Diawara. The big man from Senegal certainly impresssed my guest who was seeing him for the first time. The midfield had bite, effort, and guile (Andy Reid excellent on the ball again). And finally up front we had options and threat. Dazza nearly got onto several through balls, and when he did in the second half, he brought two good saves from Freidel.

The goal just didn't seem to want to come though. Hreidersson headed over a corner, Reid shot at the keeper, as did Hughes at least twice. Kish almost scored a beauty in the first half, beating Freidel but painfully, the post too.

And so to injury time. Spurred on by the noisy crowd, the ball was played up to Marcus Bent (on as a sub for a tired Sam). He ran at Henchoz who blocked him deliberately. After the booking, Reid and El Karkouri weighed up the free kick options. It had to be Reid - right side, perfect for curling it in with his left. It seemed the whole Blackburn team thought the same, as our Moroccan moved forward and, for once, instead of blasting it, curled it around the wall and into the bottom corner.

The crowd erupted with one of the biggest cheers snce we moved back to The Valley fourteen years ago.

On TV, I was able to see the utter joy that flowed out from those on and off the pitch - all the subs had huge smiles on their faces too! Maybe the team spirit that is perceived as missing is starting to come back (now they don't have to fight each other in training...).

The win moves Charlton above Watford, and much closer to other teams in relegation danger. A win on Saturday (not that I am getting caried away or expect it) could take Charlton out of the bottom three, and not many of us thought that possible a week ago.

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