Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Perfect Response

I've been lucky enough to see the majority of games at The Valley this season, but have always found our performances a little bit lacking compared to our displays on the road. After losing to Stevenage last week, an immediate response was required, and the team delivered with the Addicks putting in probably their best home display of the season.

I was critical of Powell's team selection last week, not least because our style of football has suffered since Kermorgant replaced Paul Hayes in the starting line up. Powell however stuck with Kermorgant and in fact the only change he made was bringing Solly back into the fray, and it paid off. The majority of the football was played on the deck, I saw little of the long ball game, and we were back to the passing style that has elevated us to the top of League One.

Danny Green had impressed little up to this point, but against Carlisle he showed what many of us had been waiting to see. He was lively throughout, put plenty of decent crosses into the box, and was unlucky early on as he saw a shot turned away by the visiting keeper. This is the type of performance we need to see week in week out and I hope that he has turned a corner.

Carlisle came to The Valley with an impressive away record, having lost only once in the league on their travels this season, and must have fancied their chances. But, Powell and his team clearly did a great job of preparing the troops throughout the week and the players were fully focused and knew exactly what was required of them.

Kermorgant grabbed the first goal after some superb play culminating with Rhoys Wiggins putting in an inch perfect cross for the Frenchman to head home. Our second was courtesy of some great vision from Hamer who launched a kick for Wright-Phillips to pressurise the Carlisle defence. As a result, Tavernier failed to connect properly with a headed backpass to his keeper and BWP finished very well.

At 2-0 things were looking comfortable, all the play was Charlton's and Carlisle were struggling to get a foothold in the game. Rhoys Wiggins once again unlocked the Cumbrians defence and zipped in a low cross, BWP had a shot blocked but the visitors failed to clear and Kermorgant eventually blasted in his second from close range.

The day then got worse for United as Matt Robson was sent off for a second bookable offence. 3-0 down and only 10 men left on the field wouldn't be anyone's ideal scenario going into the break, but to be fair, Carlisle offered little resistance and Charlton were in the mood for dishing out a drubbing.

Danny Hollands grabbed his third of the season within a few minutes of the restart. The midfielder stole the ball, ran 20 yards and shot, fortunately goalkeeper Adam Collin somehow let the ball slip through his fingers, which sent the Charlton fans around me wild with a mixture of laughter and cheering.

Carlisle had the opportunity of grabbing a consolation goal after Michael Morrison was adjudged to have handled in the Charlton area and a penalty was given. It was a harsh decision in my view, it looked purely accidental, and even after seeing it on TV, I'm not convinced. It didn't matter anyway, Ben Hamer guessed the right way and saved the spot kick ensuring we kept a clean sheet.

Credit to Powell for sticking to his guns in terms of team selection. I was one of many calling for a return to the original team that started the season, but actually what was needed most was a return to passing game we had so much early success with. Solly coming back into the team helped a lot though as we had natural width on both sides of the pitch, which allowed us to exploit Carlisle's narrow midfield.

We now need to ensure that our next couple of performances and results are of the same standard. Once again we showed what this squad is capable of and it will be disappointing if we can't pick up a couple more wins before November starts, as it looks like it could be a tricky month.

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