It's a marathon not a sprint
Some may have doubted that the ball was over the line yesterday but it's indisputable that Charlton took another big step towards their goal of overcoming the most significant line, the one for automatic promotion. Unlike Italian runner, Pietri ( later sadly disqualified for being assisted ) above, we don't need any help. Whilst we may have been fortunate to come away with all 3 points, our defence stood up well to the task and it's up to the opposition to take their chances.
Superb support from a large Addicks contingent yesterday that got behind the boys and made some noise from the off. A poster had drawn my attention to our mascot yesterday and from what I saw it appeared that young Oliver enjoyed a fantastic day. He lapped up applause from the Charlton fans and it's to be hoped that he's one for the future and will extend the line of fine Addicks's keepers.
In the first half it was immediately evident which team had played midweek and which hadn't. We were sluggish, off the pace, slow to close down and struggling to get a foothold in the match. As with most of our recent opponents, Bournemouth lacked a cutting edge. They did fashion a few chances but failed to take them in what must have been deja vu for the Cherries fans following a similar performance against the MK Dons the week before.
Stephens and Green in particular had little impact in the first period. Stephens upped his game in the second, getting further forward and in general made a more telling contribution. Sadly, Green went into his shell even more and hardly seemed to get a touch. Fortunately, he remained on the pitch to deliver his one decent corner of the day for Yann to head home. My vantage point in the East stand, dead in line with the goal line, allows me to confirm that the ball well and truly crossed the line.
We seemed to be shot-shy in the first 45 minutes. This improved in the second and Flahavan was called upon to make a couple of fine saves from rasping drives.
I was disappointed the Sir Chris didn't freshen things up earlier than he did. The first sub was an enforced one with Hamer having to leave to an ankle injury and one hopes he'll recover quickly form that. Young Ben has played with a greater degree of confidence of late and it'll be a shame if he has to miss some games now.
Our success this season has very much been built upon our solid defending and of course that was very much the case yesterday. Compare and contrast the two right backs and you'll see that the gulf in class was as evident as the one in stature. Solly was again immense and overlooking a couple of wayward passes early on didn't put a foot wrong. Francis, was well, Francis.................he's not been missed and it seems he's now lost the one asset he did have, an ability to deliver a decent cross.
Many players are in the running for the player of the year trophy but I'm firmly favouring young Chris. He is ever improving and I'm more partial to our home grown players. He'll have do something quite bizarre not get my vote when it comes to the election.
Not far behind him would be the goalscorer, Yann.......what a man ! Another tireless display. All over the pitch, winning numerous headers and wonderful lay-offs to colleagues. There was a superbly chested ball in the first half to a team-mate, think it was Green, that was an absolute delight.
BWP, like many of his colleagues, didn't have his best game. It's hard and perhaps a tad unfair to be critical of our leading goalscorer but he can make his game so much better if he positioned himself a little closer to Yann on occasions. He doesn't appear to correctly calculate the pace on the ball and get himself to where he should be. On the flip side of all that our midfield lacks vision on occasions and from my position, high up in the stand yesterday, I could see him making positive early runs which our midfield boys mostly failed to spot.
Both sets of fans warmed up for the panto season with the expected booing of Francis and Wiggins. Neither player seemed unduly surprised or concerned by this and both performed as expected I'm delighted to report !
Our record breaking 13th away win in this season that is sure to see a few more achieved before its finished. What a remarkable one it has been and continues to be. Best we make the most of it I feel !
Elsewhere some wonderful results affecting other teams at the top of the table. In particular, Simon Grayson has fitted right in at Huddersfield and they remain unbeaten during his reign. Are the Terriers about to embark on another record breaking run I wonder ?
In the seemingly never ending round of twice weekly fixtures, Colchester United are next up at the Valley. It's one we'd expect to win and one hopes we have the energy to go and get the result. Probably time to rest a couple of players if we are to do so.