Monday, 14 November 2011

Professional Job

After a couple of weeks away in warmer weather, it was nice to return and see Charlton book their place in the FA cup second round. Some may think that beating Halifax should a given, but with our record in cup competitions, it is no mean feat.

Halifax started well and put us under a fair amount of pressure early on. I thought their style of football was decent and despite being part timers, they looked quite useful on the ball. That said, I thought our back four coped well and the hosts didn't really make a clear cut opportunity to make their pressure pay.

Charlton took the lead just before half time. Matt Taylor found the back of the net with a very well directed header that looped into the corner of the net, giving the goalkeeper little chance to stop it. You could say the goal was against the run of play, but Taylor had narrowly missed with a header 10 minutes prior, and we did have the ball in the net via a Michael Morrison header, but the goal was ruled out for a foul.

The Addicks would have been both happy and relieved to go into the break a goal to the good. Halifax must have been a bit disappointed that they didn't turn their good possession into a goal. They came closest when a Tom Baker shot almost dipped under the crossbar, but it seemed that Sullivan had it covered.

The second period opened in the same way as the first. Halifax piled on the pressure again but the Charlton back line weathered the storm very well and we never looked in danger of losing our lead. The Blue Square outfit retained the ball better than us for most of the afternoon, but as mentioned, they failed to do enough with it.

Neil Aspin introduced Jason St. Juste and the hosts had one of their best spells of the game, with St. Juste running at our defence and giving us something a bit different to think about. Credit to Chris Solly who coped exceptionally well with the pacey winger. Solly has been one of our most consistent performers this season and he is looking more and more accomplished as the season progresses.

Captain Johnny Jackson ensured the tie was safe on 80 minutes with a left-footed drive that deflected past Eastwood. It was a great shot and even without the deflection, the keeper would have been struggling. The goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors, and Danny Hollands added a third a couple of minutes later. The midfielder controlled well and tapped the ball into the net from a couple of yards out.

Charlton's fourth was a well worked move involving two of our young potentials. Michael Smith and Bradley Pritchard had just been brought on when Smith received a ball in the right channel, he fed Pritchard who ran into the box and slipped the ball through the goalkeepers legs. It was a great goal.

The hosts had Danny Lowe dismissed towards the end. A lunge at Wagstaff saw the referee show a straight red card. It was unfortunate, and looking over the replays I didn't think it deserved a red. Wagstaff made the most of it, but I thought it was a yellow card offence at most. The incident happened at pace and it definitely looked worse than it actually was.

All in all it was a decent enough performance from the Addicks, certainly better than I was expecting. I've seen us struggle to lower league teams many times over the years and I thought on this occasion we did a professional job. The scoreline did not accurately depict the real story, Halifax put up a good fight, but lacked quality in the final third.

I thought Powell got the team selection right, though as others have already pointed out, Jason Euell struggled to get into the game and probably needs to call it a day and hang up his boots. His touch was awful, his legs have gone, and he offered nothing of note to the performance.

A home tie against Carlisle United now awaits us, but our focus will switch back to the league with a tricky fixture at Brentford to look forward to.