Charlton Athletic 3 Bristol Rovers 1
My brother, my son and I took our places in the Upper Covered End yesterday for collectively our first visit to The Valley this season. Shocking statistic really.
For half hour the Covered End choir were in good voice as we totally dominated, moving the ball well and getting into good offensive positions. Bielik often the conduit as he was fed the ball forward with Steer insisting on passing the ball out from goal and around his back four to start every move.
Then rather indiscriminately Steer kicked the ball out seeing an opportunity to set Jamie Ward free. Ward, without a goal this season, controlled superbly to face the keeper and with the ball just off the turf lifted it over the Rovers ‘keeper and one bounce and it was in the net. Lovely to see from our vantage point.
In the 30 minutes of dominance both Lapslie and Ajose should have scored. Lapslie, who I really like by the way because he is everything you want a Charlton player to be, twice culpable in being wasteful after bounding into the box. If Bowyer can rub some of his goalmouth abilities onto George, then we are going to have one helluva player.
Then as if time stopped, Rovers scored. All around us there was bewilderment as Rovers had literally not been in the game until then. Their player finished well, but we did query where Djiksteel was. The young Dutchman otherwise had a very good game.
Then to gasps and loud applause for Steer’s save, Rovers nearly scored again and suddenly we were the football equivalent of a batting collapse. My brother then took my son to get the half-time beers as the rest of us idly watched the clock run down.
I’m writing this on the plane, and I’ve had beers in between, so I can’t remember if Aribo’s goal came from a corner. It surely couldn’t have done, as our set-plays had sucked until then. Anyway following a bit of headers and volley’s in the Rovers box, Aribo steered a powerful header towards goal that their ‘keeper couldn’t keep out, and we went in at the break back in front.
Never one to count their chickens, but I would still assume that almost all Addicks in the ground figured on a comfortable 2nd half to come.
Well, somehow we contrived to make it inexplicably difficult. Bristol Rovers were bloody awful. They couldn’t even keep the ball on the pitch. I reckon they kicked the ball out of play in error about 20 times. But, not helped by a more pedantic referee, the game became a stop-start slog, and sadly we fully played our part.
Assuming under instructions, Steer 2nd half played every goal kick long, neutralizing any impact that Bielik was having and Lapslie played most of the half looking over his head for the ball. A word on Ajose. If you insist on wearing bright orange boots, then at least have a half decent first touch. Those boots were like mini trampolines, and again he failed to impress.
We kept giving the ball away, but it did get better when Bowyer brought on Fosu (for Ajose) and he was able to keep the ball and move us into more dangerous wide areas, which also raised Grant’s game. Although he had been no slouch all afternoon. Marshall then gave us an outlet on the other side as he replaced Lapslie.
However Rovers were getting a lot of the ball, and mostly caused by Ward’s, quite funny, ignorance of his substitution, we had two endure four nervous added minutes as Rovers pelted our box. In hindsight my man of the match Pearce and the good to see back Bauer just headed and kicked everything back at them.
In the final minute they won another corner, and their keeper came up for it. We managed to clear and Fosu cleverly knocked the ball over their backtracking goalie, and into the path of Grant still in our half.
For once the last minute script ended joyously as Grant ran towards the Covered End goal with the ball at his feet, and calmly passed the ball into the empty net to much celebrating around us.
It was a stinker of a game, but a win is a win, ugly or not.
Addicks at The Valley: Albury Addick; Doctor Kish;
Bow: “In the first half hour they couldn’t get to grips and then they just made it difficult and every time we went past them they fouled us. It was just an ugly game, it was stop-start, stop-start and they’re the ones that we wouldn’t have won before.”
Elsewhere: Only Pompey, Blackpool, Luton and the Addicks from the top half won yesterday. Portsmouth 2-1 at Scunthorpe to extend their lead at the top to 4 points, Blackpool, who sit behind us on goal difference, beat Tuesday’s opponents Burton 3-0 and Luton won well at Gillingham 3-1.