Football League Championship
The Valley, Charlton
Match Rating: 3
My first visit of the season to The Valley this season - after being a season ticket holder last season - was inspired by the club running their annual 'football for a fiver promotion for this game. Not only would I be able to watch my beloved Charlton for just a fiver, but such cheap tickets would also result in a near capacity crowd, an extremely rare event since the Premiership days, with the stadium barely over half full for most games this season.
I decided to sit in the third row of the upper tier of their (main) West Stand today, which offered excellent unobstructed views. An interesting innovation to the 'Football for a fiver this year was a compulsory £1 donation to a couple of charities. Whilst well-meant I'm sure, it seemed odd to make a charity donation compulsory, and only applied to people buying match tickets for today. This season's programme followed a very similar format to last season's with a different design but still interesting and informative.
Both clubs have made an indifferent start to their league campaigns. Charlton were down in 19th place in the 24 team division, with just ten points from their opening 11 games, although they were unbeaten in their last three games with two draws and then a win away at Blackburn last Saturday. Having been relegated from the Premiership despite winning the FA Cup last season - meaning they are having to contend with playing in the Europa League this season - Wigan were in 13th place, with 14 points from their ten games. They were unbeaten at home, but have lost four of their five away games so far this season.
On an overcast and increasingly gusty afternoon, Charlton certainly looked the brighter in the opening stages, without looking likely to score. Indeed, the first major chance arrived on 35 minutes when Bradley Pritchard skied the ball over the bar from a central position near the edge of the box after the ball was pulled back by Cameron Stewart. A couple of minutes before half time and Charlton came even closer to scoring when Richard Wood directed his header towards goal from a corner, but a combination of goalkeeper and defender scrambled through ball away on the goalline.
Whereas Charlton had the better of the first half, Wigan certainly had the better of the second and created several good opportunities to score, the outstanding one coming four minutes after the break when Wigan's Chris McCann saw his powerful header hit the crossbar. In the end, neither side could make the breakthrough asthenia game finished goalless, disappointingly for me as it was a year to the day since my last goalless draw. This was no boring stalemate though, with plenty of end to end passages of play. No doubt Charlton will be happier with the point in the end, claiming their third clean sheet on the trot.
Highlights of the game at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6aCrSGTZ3A