last post great comebacks were the topic of discussion, who'd have thought that would be followed up by another of equal magnitude!
I was fortunate enough to miss Saturday at Charlton due to work, something i don't often say, therefore missing a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Middlesbrough. The prospect of the division's top club, Cardiff City, following suit didn't fill me with hope and so i ventured to SE7 full of trepidation and fearing the worst.
Chris Powell picked a starting eleven from an injury ravaged Charlton squad that included the forgotten Danny Haynes in for Lawrie Wilson and Michael Morrison at right back with Chris Solly on the left. It looked a little disjointed at the back and this was found out to our cost after only three minutes.
Poor defending from a corner gave Cardiff the lead early on, only to be repeated twenty minutes later as the visitors doubled their lead. A brief rendition of the relegation song 'Charlton till i die' followed as the fifteen thousand home fans readied themselves for the battering to follow. Cardiff however failed to convert further chances and the covered end sensed this game wasn't all over.
'Chrissy Powell's red and white army' rang around the ground endlessly as Charlton started to mount some pressure. Fortunately for us, Cardiff's defending was as comical as our own, Johnnie Jackson capitalizing on their errors and pulling a goal back five minutes before the break. Game on.
To go in a goal behind was deserved, to go in level was a little surprising. Once again the skipper got his name on the score-sheet, this time with a powerful controlled header. We left the pitch full of momentum, Cardiff left it shell-shocked.
We started the second half much the same as we finished the first, full of confidence. Dale Stephens scored direct from a sublime free kick that left us all speechless. By this point i was getting rather good at the old fashioned goal celebration of throwing my hat in the air. By the time Haynes and Hulse had made it five only eleven minutes later i had perfected it. An unbelievable comeback was complete, 5-2 up against a side that had fallen apart, and all still with twenty five minutes left on the clock.
Charlton have never done anything the easy way though have they, we are almost famous for it. From somewhere the referee found six minutes of stoppage time, i can only presume it was from goal celebrations. Our defense used these six minutes to disastrous effect as they tried to mimic what they had seen over the past hour from the visitors. Cardiff got two and very nearly a third as the comeback story almost took a completely new twist. Charlton held on and limped over the line, Cardiff have the unfortunate tag of scoring the first two and the last two in a game and still losing.
For those of you concerned that we may have come through unscathed, may i add that my own personal man of the match, Danny Haynes, came off midway through the second half with, we believe, a possible injury.
Chris Powell's delight was obvious for all to see, as was Johnnie Jackson's. What could have been a fourth straight home defeat turned into a memorable game where not only the team showed some grit and determination, but so did the crowd. How refreshing not to be surrounded by boos and negativity. The Valley was positively electric last night, if we could only put that kind of performance in every week!
Myself and my good friend Jim McGinty headed to The Grapes at London Bridge afterwards to celebrate and try to digest the events that had unfolded before us. A couple of pints of Young's finest and a cheeky glass of port left me feeling very content and comfortable. Nothing was going to be able to put a dampener on this particular evening. Not the escalator maintenance team working at London Bridge who worked on the down one when we wanted to go down, and then the up one when we wanted to go up. Not Southern railway whose train i needed from East Croydon to home was delayed by half an hour. Not the lone Palace fan, a little elephants, who proceeded to tell all and sundry on the platform two facts, 1 his team had won five nil and 2, he was a milkman (a very badly dressed milkman at that). Not the fact that another train pulled in and the place was awash with slightly intoxicated Palace fans in full voice singing a 'top of the league' song that i thought we had, to quote reality pop show judges, made our own. Not even the fact that they then got on my train home and continued with their merriment would rain on my parade. Living deep in Palace territory is a truly awful thing.
Today i suffered a little, my head was slightly groggy and the afternoon dragged like six minutes of stoppage time.
Occupational hazards though when you're Charlton and proud. And boy am i proud.