Sunday, 1 March 2015

Charlton Athletic 3 v 0 Huddersfield Town

Saturday 28th February 2015
Football League Championship
The Valley, Charlton
Admission: Season Ticket
Programme: £4.00
Attendance: 25,545 (2,151 away fans)
Match Rating: 4

On paper, this was quite an unremarkable league fixture at The Valley today. The reality was somewhat different though, with a sell-out crowd (in home areas) encouraged by the club designating this fixture as the club's annual Football for a Fiver match, whereby all tickets were reduced to £5. Extra spice to the fixture was added with the visiting club's manager, Chris Powell, making his first return to The Valley since being sacked by Charlton just over a year ago.

Since Charlton's surprisingly comprehensive victory at home to playoff berth occupants Brentford 3-0, they then equally surprisingly won 0-3 at relegation berth occupants Wigan Athletic, before unsurprisingly losing 0-2 at leaders Derby County. They went into today's game in 16th place, a more comfortable eight points clear of the relegation zone. On paper, the fixture appeared to be between two quite even teams, with Huddersfield also stuck firmly in mid table, with 42 points from 33 games. They are unbeaten in their last three league games, and won 3-0 at home to Reading, and when today's teams met in late August, the game finished 1-1, thanks to a Charlton equaliser deep into added on time at the end of the match.

On a mild but overcast afternoon, Chris Powell was applauded as he strode from the tunnel to his dugout ahead of kick off, and was given further sustained applause in the third minute - representing the shirt number he wore as a Charlton player. The opening half hour was fairly even, both sides creating chances, but it was Charlton who took the lead on 34 minutes with another fabulous goal from Johan Gudmundsson, curling a free kick into the top right hand corner of the net from 25 yards.

Although the game was even during the first half, Charlton scored a crucial second within three minutes of the restart. Igor Vetokele showed good strength to the left of the penalty area, shrugging off a defender before passing the ball to Tony Watt in a more central position, and Watt slipped the ball past a defender before placing a shot just inside the post from around the penalty area despite being off balance. The result was never in doubt after this, and Charlton sealed the win in the 71st minute with Watt's second of the game. As is becoming his trademark, he powered goalwards from a deep position with the ball at his feet, keeping a couple of defenders at bay, before firing the ball past the keeper. With no further goals, Charlton claimed their third 3-0 win in their last four games, and the doom and gloom of a month ago, when it was very hard to see where the next win would come from during a rapid descent towards the relegation zone, happily seems a very distant memory now. Much of that does seem to be down to playing two up front with Tony Watt alongside Vetokele, giving the team more attacking intent and relieving the burden on Vetokele to score the goals. But it was a very strong performance from the whole team today, with even some of the players who have struggled recently, such as Yoni Buyens and Morgan Fox, played well today, and 17 year old Joe Gomez, who played at centre back in place of Tal Ben Haim, also looked assured. 

Video highlights of this match can be found here

A video summary of the Football for a Fiver day can be found here

No comments: