Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Six More at Home

Charlton Athletic 4 Bristol Rovers 2

Six more goals at The Valley, and another resounding victory for the Addicks as forwards Dave Mooney, Deon Burton and Akpo Sodje all scored on a blustery night. At least the weather wasn’t as bad as in the previous two games, but the swirling wind did get up in the second half and make passing accuracy difficult.

The highlight though was not one of the players or goals, but the amazing fourth official, who certainly raised chuckles from the stands and ridicule from the benches of both clubs. More later…

Charlton made two changes to the team that started in Somerset on Saturday, with Miguel Llera replacing the suspended Sam Sodje as expected, but less expected was the involvement from the start of Jonjo Shelvey for Therry Racon. Shelvey took station on the left wing, and involved himself as much as possible without really stamping any authority on his position.

The first goal came quickly, after just four minutes; Lloyd Sam hassled his full back and won the ball and made it to the byeline where his pull back found Burton ten yards out. Burton had time and space to control and turn and fire in a shot across goal that the ‘keeper parried out, and Mooney gleefully stroked in the rebound (top pic).

Soon Sam was being hacked to the ground but he still gave the full back a torrid time. A quarter of an hour into the game and Charlton won a corner. Before it was taken, the referee warned the defenders on holding as Llera fell, but they obviously didn’t learn as when Grant Basey swung over the dead ball Llera again clashed and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. There was confusion over who was booked for the foul at this point, and the scoreboard failed to indicate which player had got the yellow card. Burton stroked home the penalty kick with aplomb (below pic), and at two-nil, Charlton were cruising, but as so often happens, chances were missed, and the away team came into the game more.

Sadly, Kelly Youga injured himself when clearing a ball, and he had to go off with Elliot Omozusi filling in at right back.

It didn’t go all Charlton’s way though, and after that period of control, the referee evened things up a bit when he penalised Christian Dailly as a cross sailed into the box, and Rovers had their own penalty. Much as at Carlisle, the ref seemed to want to give one a side. Carl Ikeme had saved that one at Brunton Park (although the rebound was scored) but he couldn’t get near this kick from Hughes and five minutes before half-time it was 2-1.

It was no real surprise when Charlton conceded the equaliser ten minutes into the second half; Rovers had started the half very confidently, and with Shelvey and the forwards were struggling to hold the ball for any length of time. The passing from the back was long, in the main, and this simply allowed the wind to carry the ball to their ‘keeper and gift possession back to the away team. Lines headed in a corner to bring the teams level, and you did wonder if the two-nil lead would end in a 3-2 defeat. Omozusi had to make a couple of excellent blocks near the goal-line to keep the Addicks on level terms, and slowly the game turned and the concern subsided. Shelvey then had a goal-bound half-volley from close range unfortunately blocked by Mooney's body, and you did wonder if Charlton could respond and get back in the lead.

Thankfully, this Charlton team are built of resilient stuff, and with Akpo Sodje waiting to come on, a great move involving man-of-the-match Sam, led to his cross being flicked on by Burton to Mooney, and his header hitting the bar before Nicky Bailey bundled home the rebound to give Charlton the lead once more. Shelvey did then make way for Scott Wagstaff, and Sodje came on for the tireless Mooney. Soon, the younger Sodje was celebrating his first Valley goal (left) after he turned home from close range. With just fifteen minutes left, there was no way back for Rovers now. More chances were spurned, but Charlton comfortably saw the game home.

The most controversial moment though saw the referee make several bookings in the second half, including a yellow card for number four Lines. When he was penalised again for pulling back Bailey and the referee reached for his pocket, the player looked like he was seeing red, but for some reason he got what seemed like another yellow card and no following red. The crowd, Bailey, and the Charlton dug-out all tried to remonstrate with the referee, especially as it could lead to a punishment for him from the authorities if it is found he did give a player two cards and not send him off, but he was adamant that he was right.

The fourth official obviously at this point checked his notebook; he had written every little thing that happened in the game down in this book, and was constantly checking the watches he wore on both wrists. Most fourth officials stay seated, and only get up if something untoward is happening with the team officials. Not this one, he stood the whole game, checking both ways like he was about to cross a road, and regularly found himself in the team box talking to one side or another (we think he may have wanted to be a manager he spent so much time there!). When a substitution was made, he not only checked the players boots, but asked them to lift there shirts and amazingly their shorts too in case they were hiding anything! If a goal went in, he ran to the box to keep the officials off the pitch, not that anyone looked like they may encroach, but just because he wanted to be wanted I guess? When a late foul went against Rovers, their manager went mad and had words directed at the referee, a record of which went straight into the notebook of this man, so it may well be that Trollope gets reported for what he said. God help us when this guy takes charge of a match…

Lennie Lawrence received a nice ovation when he made his way along the touchline before the game, but for some reason he had to sit on the naughty step all through the game. He sat quietly most of the match, celebrating the equaliser, and then the final touch was that the fourth official spoke to him about what Trollope said, as if reporting him to his elder brother. Smirks all round!

So another home win for Charlton without too much trouble, bar Youga’s injury. The key now is to start winning away games too.

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