Charlton 0-2 Millwall ~ Match Musings

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Poor old Charlton, they never really stood a chance, did they? On the back of our heroic cup quarter final demolition of Blackburn Rovers in mid-week, our tails were up with Wembley looming for us, the 3000 Lions fans crammed into the away end of the valley must’ve seemed like a Charlton’s fans worst nightmare, almost as bad as the time when the 5.47 to Dimchurch was cancelled without notice…hmmm...maybe not as bad as that for them, but you get the picture?

Charlton are not on my or any Millwall fan’s radar at any time of the season until about three minutes before we kick off against them. If they were a character from film/TV/theatre then look up Mr Cellophane from Chicago and that is your archetypal Charlton fan.

A non-entity in the footballing world, these poor misguided souls are the butt of every other football teams jokes, they have no rivals, no discernible character and no real identity as a footballing feature.

They are probably the very polar opposite of Millwall yet have the audacity to brandish an SE post code. It is all very strange indeed. I am probably repeating myself here but if they are Walter to our Dennis the Menace.

They have a dilapidated football stadium that looks like it was thrown together by Bob the Builder with a little help from Meccano and a pitch that would give Blackpool’s a run for its money in the “spot the grass” competition.

What is that eloquent phrase I am searching for to describe the Valley?...Ah yes, shit hole.

I love the quaint way the “architect” who designed the roof of the away end saw no problem with putting a supporting column right behind the fucking goal clearly forgetting that the whole reason for anyone to be in this end was to try and watch some fucking goals get scored.

The overkill of policing was atypical for Charlton but because big bad Millwall were coming in from, oh, let’s say about 4 miles away, they clearly didn’t know what to expect…I mean for fuck’s sake, what is wrong with our police force? I know the standard riposte for the question “what is police intelligence?” is “a perfect example of an oxymoron” but how can they get these sorts of things so wrong? Who feeds the powers that be at the Met these ridiculous notions? Granted, Millwall travelling a short distance to West Ham might be construed as a possible chance of shenanigans but Charlton? Do me a favour…

Anyway, we managed to get through check point Charlie and into the ground and just in time to see the Mizzen and Knox families doing their bit in the eternal fight against senseless murders and it was good to see the entire crowd joining in with the applause.

Onto the football now and Mr Jackett had cause to shuffle the pack for this one and with two, yes count them, two new temporary signings to add into the mix with the re-arrival of Jermaine Easter and the new arrival of Richard Chaplow, the team lined up as follows: Forde in goal, Lowry, Osborne, Shittu and Dunne at the back, Taylor C, Trotter, Smith J, Chaplow and N’Guessan in midfield with Hulse as the lone striker.

Referee Swarbrick got the game going as the cold rain swept down and I would like to say that we were imperious and domineering but the truth is neither side looked capable of playing any decent football as the pitch was a s sticky as a glue pot so it quickly descended into a “who can kick the furthest” competition between two sets of defence and the ‘keepers.

Forde had a bit of a wobble when he spilled a harmless shot and had to scramble to pick up the pieces but it probably wasn’t as close a call as it looked. Trotter had an attempt after Hulse had picked out a decent pass to him but again it was not out of the top drawer and never really threatened the Charlton goal.

Osborne fell clumsily after a robust challenge and had to go off. He was replaced by Smith A so Lowry had to move into the centre back position.

Forde was called into action as the half wore on, tearing out of his goal to clear from Haynes and then again flying to his left to parry the ball away for a corner as the long range effort almost caught him out of position.

But, I am trying to make this sound interesting and in truth it was a dire game of football. The vocal support for the Lions was immense but it had little or no impact on the proceedings out on the pitch as both teams laboured to get anything of note going.

We had a fleeting glimpse of what might have been when Adam Smith fired a shot just a whisker away from the goal after Taylor headed the ball into his path after good work from N’Guessan out on the flank.

But that was about it for a very dull first forty five of football.

The second half started in exactly the same vein as the first, with both teams still not grasping the game by the scruff of the neck and the continuation of longish balls from one end to the other was getting very monotonous.

Haynes was looking to be a bit of a threat but thankfully Danny Shittu had him in his pocket at every turn and although the pacey front man seemingly had the drop on our colossus , Shittu thwarted him every time.

Charlton had a couple of chances in quick succession, a free kick, given away by Dunne who was yellow carded for the foul, saw the ball fly inches away from Forde’s upright, with the Irish international nowhere near it and then a speculative cross from the left saw Smith and Forde both collide whilst trying to stop what look like a certain goal but the Charlton man Wilson managed to hoof the ball over the bar from two foot out.

Mr Jackett let things carry on until around the hour mark and then made his change. He brought on Easter and took N’Guessan off and you know sometimes, not always, but sometimes these sorts of changes can have an impact but good grief, it took Easter al of ten seconds to find the back of the net and it was gratifying to see fellow loanee Chaplow provide the ball into the box for Easter to prod into the back of the Charlton net. 0-1! And bedlam ensued in the away end.

This turned out to be a bit of a catalyst for Millwall as suddenly the belief came flooding back through the side and we looked much better than them all over the pitch, they were very much on the back foot and we made them pay.

We won a free kick about 30-35 yards out after Smith A was upended and as Lowry placed the ball I suspect only Shane Lowry knew what was going to happen next. He strode up and it looked like he hit the ball with his instep in a side footed kind of way but the ball flew from his boot like a missile and smashed into the top corner of the net with Charlton’s ‘keeper Button flapping at thin air. 0-2!! Indescribable joy flooded through the massed ranks of the Lions fans behind the goal as the players celebrated in unison with us.

I think Forde had only one more minor save to make for the remainder of the game as we easily outplayed our hosts for the time that remained; the confidence flowing throughout was a marked difference from the team that kicked off 90 minutes earlier.

In the end it was a comfortable victory and a deserved one as well. The travelling thousands (who probably got home quicker from here than from a home game) left with beaming smiles on faces and
thoughts again of Wembley visits as the league form is, at last, starting to take care of itself.

No game next week end, internationals and all that good stuff so we resume our league programme on Good Friday up at Leicester which will have a smattering of spice added to it if he who must not be named is playing…

"All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." - (Macbeth, Act V, Scene I).
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    Perfect summation of what was a poor game with a fatastic result.
    Thanks, enjoyed the read