There seems to be differing opinions among the bloggers just recently. I've not noticed this before, but then I've only been blogging for a relatively short time, and until this season it has all been bad. In fact when I started blogging in January 2008 we were 5th in the Championship and only 2 points below the team in second place. Things have been pretty much all down hill since then. You could even argue that any level of results in the 3rd division is rubbish on the basis that we are in this stinking division at all.
All through those two and a bit years there seems to have been a single view shared by most Charlton bloggers, and probably fans, but recently we all seem to have slightly different opinions on various subjects. Dave Mooney is one case in point. His performances are seen differently and his demonstration when he scored against Gillingham have been defended in places and criticised in others. Another contentious subject is that of loan players. The concept of loan players has had a split in thoughts this season where as it was, in part, blamed for our failures in the two that preceded it.
I'm always open to others thoughts and I'm rarely stubborn on subjects so have been known to change my mind when a good argument is put forward. However, I've not been convinced by what I've read about this game from other bloggers. I'm not looking to change others opinions, but I will share my thoughts and maybe some will agree with me, maybe not.
The general consensus was that this was an unattractive game that had little to offer and we were a little fortunate to get anything from it. I have to disagree. MK Dons started a little better than we did, but there was little of note in the first half, except for one good save from Randolph. That save aside I thought that we looked very comfortable at the back. I sit at the back of the East Stand, so my normal view is not from behind a goal so I was not in a great position to judge, but I thought we had a couple of decent chances in the first half. I'm not going to say that at the interval it felt like it was only a matter of time before we scored, but it did look like we probably would and MK Dons probably wouldn't.
I would go as far as to say that we looked as safe at the back as I've seen us for a while. Daily and Sodje looked in command, and there were none of those sloppy errors that we have seen in recent weeks. MK Dons are a little out of the chase for the playoffs, but before the game my Dad and I discussed them and we concluded that if they were going to make a late surge for the playoffs it was imperative that they won this game. In fact some research I've done this morning (which I'll blog about later) made it likely that they knew the playoffs were beyond them.
As you would expect from the home side MK Dons started well but by the time we had played fifteen minutes we had taken control of the game and that didn't change before half time. In fact I would go as far as to say that we continued to dominate in the second half until we brought on Lloyd Sam. We had not made many clear cut chances in the second half by then. In the first half Wagstaff had missed a chance that New York Addick suggests he should have scored, but that aside we had controlled the play without really looking like scoring. Lloyd Sam's introduction changed things a bit and Nicky Forster showed his experience when he chased a ball he wasn't going to win and invited the foul that won us a penalty.
Now let's not pretend otherwise, Forster was looking for a penalty. Clearly I don't know what his actual intentions were, but it looked like he knew what he was doing. I don't think there was any chance of us scoring had the foul not taken place, and, as I say it looked like he played for it. However, it was a foul. Just because he played for it didn't mean that the defender had to foul him, it was his choice and he 'fell for it'. I mention this because the treatment he received before he took the kick was unnecessary. Forster is not a very tall man, and the huge defenders that were stooping to put their faces in his to say something should have known better. The Referee should have dealty with it better too. Anyway it didn't put a 36 year old with 16 goals already this season off and he dispatched the penalty with aplomb.
Then, as you'd expect two things happened. We dropped way too deep and MK Dons raised their game for ten minutes. The inevitable result was that they attacked our goal constantly. It's really easy from the stands to know what to do, but if you are under that kind of pressure it is so easy to drop deeper, and to lash out at any kind of clearance you can. To be fair to him Reid was trying to play the ball out, but there was no one to pass to as the whole team were getting themselves behind the ball. Randolph made a couple of good saves. Again, it was at the other end of the pitch from where I was sitting so I can't really judge how great the saves were, but the pressure was expected, it came, and we held strong.
Parkinson made two substitutions changing the formation as well as taking off Forster, who had been running all afternoon, and is no spring chicken. Those two, plus the Lloyd Sam introduction were inspired. Sure there were a number of fans that were calling for exactly those changes, but full credit must go to Parkinson as he didn't put a foot wrong all afternoon. Just for the record, Mooney did ok too. He is not a prolific goal scorer, but he did chase and chase and he did play in the ball from which Forster won the penalty. It was just time for a change, and Shelvey (whom I suspect you realise I like) came on and looked really impressive in his cameo. Something that I did notice for the first time (I sit at the back of the East Stand, so quite a way from the pitch) is just how big Shelvey is. I've always thought of him as a young lad playing in a man's game. Not the case at all - he looks every bit as strong as any other player.
So, overall I don't think we were lucky, I don't think it was a poor game and I don't think we played badly. We played like an away team that came for a win (any win) and got exactly what we came for. Interestingly we managed 3 shots on target which is much improved from one a piece at Millwall and Huddersfield. Sure we didn't look or play like Barcelona do at home, but we were professional and did everything we needed to.
Clearly we need to go on and win today, but since the final whistle I have been much more upbeat about this campaign. I guess it helps that just about all the results went our way this weekend, but for the first time in two months I believe that the magical second place is a possibility.
Up the Addicks!