Well, that turned out ok didn't it?
It was nowhere as easy as I'd expected, and had Beavon not missed his early chance the result could well have been rather different. Having said that he did manage (rather more by luck than judgement) to march through our defence without losing the ball.
As I've said previously I am not very good at match reports, and my analytical skills seem to be best used at looking for faults rather than praise, even when it's due. Yesterday's game was, for me anyway, the perfect spectacle for an away game.
Don't get me wrong I love winning games 5-0 (I have seen a few) but coming from behind and winning is always more enjoyable (in this case giving away a lead before scoring a late winner). If we had been ten points ahead of second place and fifteen above third by now I would be more than happy, but it would take a little away from each match as it would seem to be a bit of an irrelevance. Winning three nil, and looking safe after twenty minutes or so is fine, but it's just so much more exciting to enter the last few minutes of the game needing something - be it a goal or to not let one in.
We survived the early scares, and Wycombe had a few chances that would, 99 times out of 100, have led to a goal in the games we played as recently 2006/07 (Premier League). I am only just coming to understand the difference between a 'real' chance in this division. Beavon is probably a good professional (I actually have no idea) and maybe his early miss was not very characteristic of him, but Rooney, Owen, Henry et. al. would have buried it. Thus until I really learn the limitations of strikers in this division (including ours, to be fair) we are going to feel like we have had more let-offs.
Anyway we went on to settle and dominated the rest of the first half getting a great goal by Shelvey, and looking the most likely to score. Wycombe didn't give up, and with better finishing or a bit of luck they could have scored in the first half. Sometimes you need to be only slightly better a side to win by three goals, other times you need to be a much better side to win by one. Yesterday was one of the latter occasions. No disrespect to Wycombe, and the result didn't flatter them, but I still believe as I did on Friday that if we had to play them again, we'd win again.
The fact that the game was in doubt until the final whistle added something to the atmosphere. I have only been to a handful of away matches this season but I've sensed a greater atmosphere among the Charlton fans at each successive game. There seems to be a closer relationship with the players too. I was rather critical of Nicky Bailey in the summer. He was (at Championship level) caught in possession of the ball a few times, and that coupled with a press release that suggested he wanted to leave made me feel a little resentment towards him.
With his performances this season (and from very early on) my thoughts changed. Granted I expect that he would rather play elsewhere (Premier League for sure) but he has led by example this season. Parkinson's decision to make him Captain looked, initially, like a sweetener to keep him. It might have been some, or all the reason, but he has led by example in the same way that Steven Gerrard and John Terry do. With hindsight, something that I have now and Parkinson didn't have in August, his selection as Captain was inspired. Parkinson's decisions all over the place are looking more and more inspired. My criticism of his appointment in November (and again December) 2008 was for the right reasons, but he has clearly proved to be the right man for us. Next season in the The Championship (should we be promoted) or League One (with players having to be sold) he will have it all to do again, but for now I'm more than happy with him. I think he has done enough to earn our respect and, more importantly, our patience and realistic expectations.
Anyway, back to yesterday. On the way up to the game my Dad and I were discussing our hopes for new signings (as you do) but we both concluded that even though we are screaming out for a dedicated left winger, assuming we can keep Mooney until the end of the season the priority is to keep what we have. Nicky Bailey being the most influential individual this season (and probably last season too). He was picked out by the fans and his name was sung more than all the others added together - clearly we are not the only Charlton fans that like him. His goal seemed to come from a perseverance and a determination to score/win. It was his run to the fans (not very far to be honest) and the expression on his face that reassured me that he is not looking for a move in this transfer window. That doesn't mean he won't leave, but normally these things are driven by players. He clearly has a bond with Charlton fans. It makes the treatment he received from Barnet fans earlier this season all the more understandable.
There is a feeling beginning to resurface that the players are not just footballers playing for our team, they are our players, they are our boys. If nothing else that is something to celebrate.
Up the Addicks!