Sunday, April 05, 2009

Men in Black Colour Away Win

Southampton 2 Charlton Athletic 3

It was a shame that some of the off-field events marred this good win by Charlton; financial troubles of both clubs aside, the disturbances outside the ground after the match (and prior to at a local station I hear) cast a slur on the name of the club. It was worrying to see 20 or so black clad men, hooded and capped (possibly fresh from G20 Summit duties?), goading home fans during the first half, and after the break, this group moved to another area of the away end and continued to abuse and antagonise the nearest Saints fans. Police and stewards did what they could but seemed powerless to evict all of the culprits. I am sure that this group brokered the trouble at the away exit afterwards, and at that stage, with plenty of other home fans now close by, police struggled to control the melees that ensued. One 50-ish man was not lucky, and he was laid out looking very ill with little in the way of medical help at hand due to the situation that was almost out of control. I left the ground but with more fans seeming intent on joining in, I just hope nobody was seriously hurt.

I know that every club has their rogue element, but this was the first time I have seen this particular group at a Charlton match, and looking so threatening. It was against Southampton some years back that a group of supposed Charlton fans organised a clash at Westcombe Park station that turned into men against boys, so perhaps this was a legacy of that day? Most of those involved then were jailed, but perhaps they are now out again?

Sadly, this did impinge of a good day out: I had travelled to the ground through Wiltshire and Hampshire without delay or mishap. The walk to the stadium was quicker than I remembered, and I even had the pleasure of a steward going outside of the ground to get me a programme as I hadn't seen any sellers on the way in. This sort of excellent service is a credit to Southampton and their stewards.

Charlton lined up as predicted, and Jonjo Shelvey did push forward most of the game, and attempt to get alongside and in front of Tresor Kandol whenever he could. It was a simple goal that Charlton scored to take the lead within the first six minutes; Rob Elliott kicked long and the ball was flicked on by Kandol – who won plenty in the air all match – for Shelvey to beat the last man (Chris Perry?) and cooly slot home past Davis in goal. Charlton were in front early, but could they hang on?

The answer was no, as too much faffing around led to an easy equaliser just over ten minutes later. Hudson should have cleared, but didn't and played a tight ball to Nicky Bailey on the left. Bailey was unable to turn and subsequently tackled, and danger man McGoldrick strode onwards and shot across Elliott and in.

At least Charlton didn't buckle at this point, and with Zheng Zhi and Therry Racon seemingly always available for a pass in midfield, and with Lloyd Sam finding space on the wing, the Addicks continued to be the brighter. A ball into Kandol by ZiZi saw him being hauled to the ground, and the otherwise excellent referee correctly pointed to the penalty spot. Sometimes, it is best if the player fouled for a penalty doesn't take the spot kick himself, and sometimes it makes no difference whatsoever. This time, Kandol lazily stroked too close to Davis who flopped on the ball to save (left). Oh dear! Immediately, Mark Hudson gave away a foul on the edge of the Charlton area and you wondered if the Addicks would be punished immediately but thankfully the shot was blocked and eventually cleared.

Elliott was really only called into action again once in this half, when a long cross (after Kelly Youga had again gifted the opposition the ball) was headed back across goal and goal-wards at the far post; Elliott flung himself at the ball and turned it around the post for a corner.

Youga provided some entertainment when he strode forward to a deflected half-clearance on the edge of the area and steadied himself for the shot; sadly for Kelly, the spin took the ball away from him and he was left swinging at fresh Hampshire air. Luckily, as he strolled back with an embarrassed look, the Southampton break-away came to nothing.

At half-time, you felt that the Addicks had been the better team, and if they continued, they would still have a chance. That is if they chose to play more than just 45 minutes, as they only sadly have in some games this season. The weather was lovely though, and I think this is the first time I can remember a lineman wearing a cap for the whole game, in order to keep the sun out of his eyes as he looked across the pitch. It was a black cap, and I wonder if it was Football League or anarchist issue?

The second half news was good; Charlton started equally brightly, and the midfield, provided players didn't linger on the ball too long, was being won. Kandol continued to make a complete nuisance of himself, and after an hour laid the ball back to the arriving Racon, who curled a lovely shot over Davis and into the far corner. The celebrations in front of the travelling fans was quite good too (left). Back in front, this time it was crucial that Charlton didn't concede an equaliser.

The Saints tried hard, and did make Elliott work, but too often, any shots they got away were too close to the Charlton keeper or went well wide. Ex-Addick Jason Euell showed he still has an excellent second touch, and also that his first touch is just as awful as it always was! As the game progressed, it became more open. Matt Holland replaced the excellent Zheng Zhi (for no apparent reason), and very soon, Charlton broke once more, this time down the left. Bailey, who had an indifferent game overall, beat his man and when expected to pull the ball back, toe-poked the ball past Davis and into the far corner; this was the first time Charlton had scored three goals in a game since last August!

Southampton made some substitutions, in a desperate attempt to get back into the game, and Charlton really should have wrapped things up when countless breaks saw them three on two, or two versus one. Deon Burton came on for Kandol, as he had incurred the wrath of the referee and the crowd by first kicking the ball away after a foul to earn a booking, and then by showing dissent after another foul. Burton was involved in the next break, as he and Shelvey plus Bailey went clear with just one defender back. Sadly, Burton messed it all up by not seeing the totally free team-mates square of him, and when he did, failing to even get a pass away.

The game entered an exciting climax as streams of Saints fans trundled out of the ground. Wright-Phillips volleyed over Elliott at the second attempt, from distance, and you did wonder if Charlton would throw the win away as they have done before? Thankfully, they did OK, and could have scored more themselves in the last few minutes. As Southampton became desperate, their players seemed to throw themselves to the ground every time they entered the penalty area, and if a Charlton defender was close. The referee ignored these claims each time, and finally the home Manager snapped and started to have a go at him. Charlton manager Phil Parkinson got involved (not for the first time this season!) and stood up for the man in black a little too forcibly. The result was that both Wotte and Parky were sent off to the stands. Parky will probably get a touchline ban for this altercation, but I hope it’s not too long as it was just the heat of the moment stuff and did bring a smile!

After four minutes injury time was played out and the final whistle went to visiting supporters cheers, the players and manager came across to show their appreciation for the support given. Racon and Shelvey threw their shirts to the crowd (via a steward), with Racon showing an impressive tattoo that covered his whole back (much like Nigel Benn I thought), and Elliott’s gloves ended high up the seating too.

Three points won away for the first time since September; I know it is too little too late, but we have to take what we can at present, and say “Well done lads – can we have some more please?”

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Pedro - sorry to hear that there was trouble at the match but it was pretty predictable. Southampton "fans" have gone out of their way to pick fights at the Liberal and Con Clubs after matches in the last two seasons and with 27,000 turning up yesterday, it looked inevitable to me. I don't know what went on before the game but wouldn't be surprised to find out that Charlton "fans" might have been targeted which might have accounted for what you witnessed during and after the game. No excuses of course, but I don't buy any G20 stuff. I just hope the vast majority of the Addicks fans, who weren't looking for any, didn't find any - Dave.
At the Saints a few years back an idiot invited me to come over the road for a fight and then threw a 50p coin at me when I declined the request.
Hi, unsure if you still update this bollocks but it's taken me 3 years to stumble across this.
A) was more like 50 than 20
B) this firm has been attached to cafc for years
C) where can I buy the crack you've been smoking, must be strong stuff - anarchists! You silly scope helmet.

Loves from the Charlton Youth x x
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