Catcalls from Charlton's Covered End Choir
For our latest guest contribution, we are pleased to present a match report from Yasser11, a keen supporter of the footballing blogosphere, but noteworthy in particular for his insatiable appetite for watching football in the flesh. Following trips to Stamford Bridge and Bedfont F. C.’s ground at The Orchard last week, Yasser made his way to The Valley last night. Here are his impressions:
There was no mist rolling in from the Thames to cover up Charlton’s all too apparent failings on the night, as their winless run in the league continued for a fifth game running. It was difficult to believe that Swindon Town, the visitors, three points above the relegation zone, were playing a side in the play-off places. The unpredictability of this league never ceases to amaze me – nor is there any love lost between the two teams: the memory of playoff defeat to Swindon on penalties will have been fresh in the minds of Valiants’ supporters.
Having missed the first nine minutes of the encounter (thanks as ever to the punctual chaps at @NRE_Southeastern), I took my seat in the north west corner of the Stadium. Charlton haven’t enjoyed a sell out crowd at the Valley since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2007 so a half-filled ground for a televised tie on Sky came was not a staggering surprise. The Robins had brought some two to three hundred brave souls from the deepest corners of Wiltshire; all of whom had congregated towards the front of 3,000 capacity Jimmy Seed Stand. A few of them though had already seen enough – with several escorted out by stewards as I was taking my seat.
Charlton had the better of the opening exchanges and were causing Swindon problems down the wings. The deadlock was broken in the twenty second minute when Johnnie Jackson’s shot was deflected in off Sean Morrison, although it was quite clear from my vantage point that Paul Benson handled the ball in the build up. The Swindon players were aggrieved, quite rightly so given the injustice, and they duly enacted a pitch length chase after the man in black.
The goal got the whole ground buzzing as the drum wielding Charlton supporters stretched their vocal chords – but their enthusiasm was soon dampened as Swindon were allowed back into the game. Rob Elliott made a fantastic one handed save to deny Matt Ritchie from outside the box, but the Pompey loanee was to be rewarded for his endeavour minutes later, swooping on to a rebound. 1-1 was an even reflection of the game going into the break, but Swindon had certainly finished the half on the ascendancy. As we headed back into the concourse, for a hot cup of tea, I wasn’t the only one in the stadium thinking that Swindon would win this game unless Charlton improved.
Swindon started where they left off in the second half. They were playing with more desire and determination, pressing Charlton high up the pitch and forcing them to make mistakes. Christian Dailly, another member of David Weir’s unofficial over 35s Club, made the first of these mistakes as he dwelt too long on the ball in spite of the onrushing Charlie Austin; the much talked about striker stealing it away from the Scotsman’s feet and slotting it past Elliott to give Swindon the lead.
From Charlton’s perspective, that was a very poor goal to concede as Dailly had ample time to get rid of the ball and what was going on in the Scot’s mind we’ll never know: the Addicks fans certainly weren’t impressed and some were already predicting an embarrassing 10-0 rout at White Hart Lane, where they will report in a week’s time on FA Cup duty. Playing at home; 2-1 down; you would expect a response but it never came. Parkinson tried to change things with a double substitution and switching to two up front but the plan backfired as Charlton only ceded more possession in midfield.
The south Londoners’ misery was compounded when Sean Morrison fired home a header from a Jon-Paul McGovern cross on seventy seven minutes. The Covered End Choir had seen enough as fans started to filter out of the stadium, venting their anger at the gaffer. The rout was complete four minutes later as Austin doubled his goal tally on the night with a fine header.
If Parkinson will have every right to be angry with his defenders in the dressing room, he nonetheless had to contend with catcalls first as the fans headed to the exits hastily; chants of ‘Parky Out’ ringing through the concourses. Pawel Abbott did get one back for the Addicks towards the end but that pleased nobody.
Swindon were worthy 4-2 winners and Danny Wilson was all praise for his side in his post-match interview – “We’ve got to have people playing at the top of their games every week, and everyone contributed today.” For his part, Parkinson alluded to Swindon’s desire in his comments after the match -“In my eyes they had more desire in both boxes than we did.”
Swindon climbed up a few places and are now in 17th position – less distance in points terms from the play offs than they are from the relegation zone. Austin, despite being linked with moves away from the club this month, is as genuine a goalscorer as there is, and it’s well nigh unfeasible to see Swindon in the bottom half of the league come the end of the season. Their upcoming fixtures are against sides languishing below twelfth so they should continue their rise.
As for Charlton, it’s been a rum season. The wheels have come off a bit but they are still in the chase for promotion and can’t be ruled out. Following the recent club takeover, Parkinson was due to meet the new Chairman Michael Slater after yesterday’s game. The jeers, the boos and evident anger towards the manager doesn’t bode well for the ex-Reading legend’s future – whether he will receive a pink slip or his next pay slip; it’s anyone’s guess?