POST MATCH RAMBLE: Charlton -v- Wednesday

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Charlton -v- Wednesday

I think it’s a sign of age that these games over the Christmas period are coming too thick and fast for me and really starting to take their toll…

I feel battle weary already and there’s still a home game and another away to come in the next few days….getting up for this early start after a busy night at work only adds to the fatigue…still, this is Charlton away and one of my favourite away days…it must be worth the effort surely?

I’d already got everything ready at home for when I finished work at 8am. Even the Special Oasis ™ had been made a few days ago before when I left home for work…it needed to be too as no sooner had my relief arrived at work and I was tearing down the motorway heading home ready for a quick change and grabbing everything together to start the journey to that London…not even time for the lucky 3 Sh’s this morning…I’d been home exactly 10 minutes when the Young Un arrived with Adam who had kindly agreed to take us to the train station and we now had less than 30 minutes to get there….

You know what it’s like when you’re in a rush like this, I checked a dozen times at least to make sure I had the train and match tickets and shoved everything I thought we’d need into my coat pockets and we were off…

We arrived in pretty good time, well, with 10 minutes to spare, despite the efforts of the slowest taxi in the world to hold us up.

Sunrise at Wakey Train Station

A good start to the day

I love that moment when you get on the train, find ya seats and slump back ready to relax on the long journey…anything forgotten now as we pull out of the station will have to stay forgotten and looking out of the carriage window at the sun just coming up over Wakefield I took my first glug of Special Oasis; 8.40am and that is the best way to start a day…well…mebbe not the best way but as I wasn’t waking up spooning with Halle Berry it would have to do…

The trip down there flew past…bit of nattering with the Young Un, bit more Special Oasis and a few Zs….that’s always gonna make any journey go quickly and before ya knew it we were arriving blurry eyed in Olde London Town…

I was absolutely Hank Marvin by now though so first port of call had to be a bit of snap and as we didn’t have time, or more importantly the inclination, to hunt around for a greasy spoon we settled on O Neills over the road from St Pancreas…It was OK but I think we’d have been better off taking that bit of time and being a little more inclined to actually find a proper café…

For a start it wouldn’t have cost us £21!!

Twenty-chuffin-one-chuffin-pound-chuffin twenneh-chuffin-pee!!!

Breakfast and Bill

HOW MUCH?

I nearly gasped meself back up North.

Needless to say it didn’t touch the sides and I was feeling a little perkier now, not least because the Special Oasis was kicking in, in fine style….

I was in a fine mood now and just as Salop arrived too.

I know there were a few folk on Twitter reading my matchday updates on the day just busting for a repeat of our last visit here but it was never gonna happen…the Young Un was on best behaviour and now Salop was here we had a grown up to look after us…no way I was getting lost this time so UP YOURS TWITTER!

As is usual for London away days we make our over to London Bridge for more drinks and as we walk in Baldy is propping up the bar and gets them in…a few more, a bit of nattering and putting the world to rights and we head over to Charlton.

Me and the Young Un get in first whilst the others do a bit of fannying about and I head over to the pie shop to get some pies in once we have em we go down the front and settle in for the game. When Baldy finds us he has his finest furrowed brow on as he realises where we’re stood to watch the game…

‘There’s all these seats here with a great view of the game and we come down to the front and stand here’ he grumbles, furrowing his brow even more…if that’s possible…

Shurrup, put yer angry eyebrows away and have a pasty I tell him, offering a bag of pasties his way.

Charlton Pitch

That allotment needs digging over

One thing about standing down the front is the view you get of the playing surface and it was truly dreadful…as bad as any we’ve seen anywhere through the divisions…in fact I struggle to think of any worse and I include the ploughed field that Blackpool play on in that list but this must be close to being condemned surely?

Well this was something new for us…we were here in good time and apparently the teams come out together and line up and shake hands….Hmm…I’m not that impressed and getting to the games on time is vastly overrated in my opinion

THE MATCH

I confess, I don’t know much about this current Charlton side other than the longer standing players, Cormorant and the Charlton version of JJ (Johnnie Jackson)…and one time Wednesday targets Danny Green and Lawrie Wilson…oh and the Young Un tells me we should have tried to get Ch’ch as he’s a bit good (never really noticed him TBF) Oh yeah, let’s not forget the Charlton centre half pairing of former Wednesday players Michael Morrison and Richard Wood…

OK, OK, so I know a bit more about this Charlton side than I first thought now I come to think about it…and now I do come to think of it, on paper they seem extremely average…at best.

Back in the starting line-up for us was the Wednesday talisman Connor Wickham and also getting a start alongside him was the much troubled and travelled Chris Maguire which is pretty much a dream partnership for Wednesday fans and a chance for Maguire to prove his worth now….at the back we had Kirkland retaining his position and adding to the feelgood factor was Gloovens holding that back line together…

Loovens left

Reliable Gloovens

What this meant of course was that Wednesday fans could barely find anything to moan about before kick off and as we do like a good moan we’d have to settle for the lack of moaning opportunities itself as being reason enough to chelp.

I admit, I was a little bit under the influence but not as much as I have been in previous visits to the Valley and certainly not enough to affect my view of the game…any more than normal anyway and whilst the first half wasn’t a game for football purists most of the decent play, such as it was, came from us and you’d have been hard pressed to pick out Charlton as being the home side, either on the pitch or off it as Wednesday dominated the game on the mud and the traveling fans followed suit on the terraces.

Mindstya, in defence of both sets of players that pitch just isn’t conducive with good football and in and around the 18yd box looked like an allotment….the ball didn’t skip across the surface and the players must be knackered after a running through that treacle…or tweeeeakle as they’d say down here…

As well as being the better side the first half we had the better chances too, in fact I can’t remember Kirkland having too much if anything at all to do in that first 45…

At the other end we were getting quite a few shots off, albeit not many of them on target though Wickham did force a save in the opening few minutes and we had a shot that hit the bar, which I think was from Roger Johnson…though it was difficult to tell from our viewpoint…before Wickham ended the half as he’d started it by drawing a save from the Charlton keeper, this time from a free kick.

It hadn’t taken much for us to be better than Charlton for that first 45 minutes who looked sluggish to say the least and if we could just step up a little more in the second half we could win this game…I liked the fact that we’d got Maguire on from the start this time and along with a return for Connor Wickham I was confident we could get the breakthrough as both had looked lively so far. If we could keep this promising play going there was no way we wouldn’t be going home with points from this game I was convinced of it

When halftime arrived the mood in the away end was pretty good…everyone was reasonably happy with the performance and the general mood was that if we could keep it tight at the back and build on the promising forward play of the first half the breakthrough would eventually come…

I was also convinced that if we could get Nuhiu on at some point he would make a great partnership with Wickham and they could cause even more problems for the former Wednesday players at the heart of that Charlton defence

When I’ve had a drink I get easily convinced about a lot of things…one day I’ll be right though…you’ll see!
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When the teams came back out we didn’t have to wait long for that breakthrough…

Unfortunately it was Charlton that got it!

Within 2 minutes of the start Charlton had scored and our upbeat confident bubble had been burst…we’d seen this very same thing before against Forest a couple of weeks ago…

We play so well for 45 minutes, the better of the two sides on the pitch, looking like it’s just a matter of time before we take a much deserved lead and then when the players come out for the restart their minds are still on the warmth of the dressing room and a moments lapse in concentration sees all the hard work undone in a flash.

Gutted Face

URR NURR!

The ball is lobbed in, almost lazily from a throw in down our left…it drops to the Charlton player in absolutely chuffin acres of space…no one closes him down…a group of our players seem to be stood around in a clump not paying attention to what is going on before they finally decide to lay out the red carpet for Joe Charlton…they clear a path to goal, which he gleefully accepts before chipping the ball over an onrushing Chris Kirkland to put the home side a goal up and break the confident hearts of every Wednesday fan in the ground…

There was a huge Northern sloughening as the ball hit the net which easily drowned out the noise from the home support and we all stood for a moment, huffin, chuffin and puffin as only Northern folk can do when sommats gone wrong…we weren’t happy….weren’t happy at all.

To the credit of our players they didn’t allow us to do our other favourite pastime, wallowing.

We do like to wallow in our misery for a while but just as we set our faces to glum, straight from the restart the Wednesday players were up and at em in fine style and it was a joy to see…

We upped our game and increased the tempo…or as much as ya could in the mud…we had a few chances in quick succession…headers over the bar, corners, shots blocked and shots missed, this was great stuff and I was convinced…yet again…that there was plenty in this game for us and we would get our rewards soon enough.

Stuart Gray obviously thought the same and made a couple of changes with Maghoma replacing McPhail and Helan making way for Nuhiu…at last my winning combo were together and my  convinced meter was now off the chart.

Almost immediately Nuhiu had a shot on goal only to see it blocked…OK, not the best attempt but it was a start…a good warmer upperer…

We wouldn’t be denied though and we got going down the right hand side from a long kick forward by Kirkers…I think it was Maguire who raced forward onto the flicked on ball and put across a ball that deflected off a Charlton defender before finding its way towards Connor Wickham right in front of us at the far post…

It looked for a moment as though he was gonna leave it to trickle over the line but instead tapped it home to make sure…I swear I saw him look over at the lino to see if it was OK for him to tap it home and ensure he wouldn’t be offside before he did apply the finishing touch…though I readily admit, that may not have actually happened outside my addled noggin…

An easier or more welcome goal he’ll never score and we went absolutely nuts…

I was off…running along the front row of seats, bustling the lads at the side of me out of the way in my haste to celebrate and shout at Connor Wickham…

YOU’RE CONNOR WICKHAM!

YOU! YOU! YOU ARE!

YOU’RE CONNOR CHUFFIN WICKHAM YOU ARE!

I know he already knows that but I felt he needed it underlining and that it was my mission to keep him updated…I was totally oblivious to everything and everyone else around me at that moment, only me and Connor Wickham….and me shouting like an idiot and pointing like a halfwit…I was locked into it….

Connor Wickham Charlton

Scoring for fun

I loved it…I loved the moment…I’m not sure you can have a moment quite like that without the assistance of alcohol and if I’m honest I’d like more of them….suddenly all the players were in front of us, breaking up my little moment and I turned around to find the Young Un at the side of me and Baldy going nuts on the row behind us….this celebration, that goal, it was the very least the players deserved …

When we went a goal down against the run of play they refused to let it get them down, they hadn’t folded and instead rallied themselves and turned up the heat…now we needed to press on for the winner…I was CONVINCED we could get it!

As we looked to our right in the Charlton stand there was a lovely young lady with four kids….

She was gesticulating and shouting at the Wednesday fans…what a treat!

There’s nothing football fans like more than someone prepared to exchange banter, though if you’re with kids ya probably best keeping ya gob shut and setting a better example surely? That didn’t seem to be in her plans at all and the more she shouted and gestured the more the Wednesday fans loved it and chanted more and more choice songs back to her, questioning pretty much every part of her personal life and the more excited and agitated she got with every chant…

Fortunately for her the play on the pitch was distracting the Wednesday fans and the chants were cut mercifully short….

We continued to press for the remainder of the game but we just couldn’t make it pay…Charlton did have the odd moment themselves and they’d woken up a little since we scored…for some reason they were suddenly aware they were in a game at 1-1 but at 0-0 they seemed totally oblivious to that fact and wondered around the pitch half-arsed…

However what little threat they offered was limited and short lived and even though we couldn’t fashion too many clear cut chances we continued to dominate…

As the game drew to a close though  both sides had chances…well we had chances whilst the home had a single chance…

Charlton should have done better with the one that fell to them and instead of poking it past Kirkland again the ball ended up in the side netting, though it would have been an absolute travesty if they’d nicked this.

Our chances were more frequent though met with the same end result…Roger Johnson saw yet another effort of his agonisingly kept out…

Roger Johnson Black Away Kit

Rojo: Denied a parting gift

We got a corner and Johnson rose superbly well to nod the ball downwards and goalwards and looking all over as though this was his parting gift for Wednesday fans only to see the keeper obliviously block the ball with his legs…it was agony for the loanee and Wednesday fans alike who were urging the team on with every touch…

As if to underline how fluky that block was the ball landed back out at the feet of Maguire who put a perfect ball right through the heart of the 6yd box…it just needed the faintest of touches, from any player, Wednesday or Charlton to see it home but it went all the way across untroubled by any player from either side…

AAAAAARGH!

It was just about the last chance of the game and for once we found ourselves wanting a bit more time instead of agonisingly clinging on, desperate to hear the ref’s whistle…just a few more minutes ref…we can do this…come on me owd mucka…

He never listens when we want him to blow early and he wasn’t listening now and when the whistle finally did go we cheered and applauded the Wednesday players as they came over and did the same to us…they’d deserved it (so had we)

We played pretty well for all but a few brief moments in this game and Charlton couldn’t have had many complaint if we’d taken all 3 points.
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I’ve no idea what the stats say but they must surely point towards a dominant display by Wednesday? We had the lion’s share of possession, especially second half and by far more shots on goal without troubling the Charlton keeper enough admittedly…and if a Wednesday team like this can come to your back yard and dominate you then you have real problems.

Don’t get me wrong, the worst side by far that I’ve seen in this division has been us at times….

But…

Outside of us Donny and Charlton are a long way ahead in the crapness stakes and look destined for a season slumming it near the basement of this division…it’s just a matter of who is in those bottom slots when the music stops and I’ll be very disappointed to say the least should we go down and one of those poor sides stays up…also…if I’m really honest here, as much as I’m not a fan of Charlton, their manager or a large proportion of their dull, hard to talk to fans, I do love this fixture and I sincerely hope that, should we stay up, they do too.

Charlton look to have as many problems as we have…hanging on too long to League 1 standard players that just aren’t good enough for this level…in fact, I suppose we have a lot of things in common as it also looks like they are about to be taken over by some power hungry businessman who will promise them the world and deliver very little.

We made our way out, once more amongst the mix of fans and this is still the only place I can think of where there’s no chatter amongst the home fans about the game, about their team….no post match vibe and getting any sort of conversation going is just a waste of time…it’s like Stepford Football…even on the train back to London Bridge the two way banter is half hearted at best but at least it’s a sign of life and far better than we’ve heard before on visits here…

We rounded the day off with a few more drinks before being chucked out of the pub…apparently they close on Sundays at 6.30…I couldn’t believe it….good job we hadn’t booked a late train back then…what kind of pub shuts at that time?

We said our goodbyes and after grabbing a bit more snap made the train home with a couple of minutes to spare…no sooner was the snap down my neck and the train on its way then I was back in the land of nod…

It had been a long old day…and night for this old sod and the snoozing was inevitable and much needed…
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Cheers
Steve:Beastie
Owls Alive
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Twitter: @owlsalive or @beastie_


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