I did say that the game would be tense, and it was. What I didn't predict, however, was that we would win and keep a clean sheet. I didn't, in all truth, dare to believe that we would win.
I was going to celebrate like mad if we managed a draw to be honest. I couldn't get any access to the Internet on my phone so I didn't know what the other scores were until I'd left the ground, but that aside, I did think that avoiding defeat would have been a decent days work.
I find it interesting reading reports from fans that have vested interests in the clubs. I did mention the Wednesday fans on their forum before the game, and I have read some of their comments since the game. They claim that we were time wasting from the first minute. I hate time wasting, so I'm probably likely to be more biased on this subject, but I didn't feel like we were time wasting. Sure, we were not taking goal kicks and throw ins in a hurry as we were not chasing the game and an away side will always look to regroup from a stoppage in play. Only if you are losing towards the end of the game do you want to see your 'Keeper running to get the ball, put it down and then immediately kick it anywhere towards the other end of the pitch.
Other points they made were their two near misses while not mentioning BWP's one on one that Weaver saved. Also the Wednesday fans think the ref was on our side but I counted at least three incidents that could have justified a red card for them that was yellow.
One point I do agree on was Morrison. He looked shakey at the start, and he made a couple of mistakes that made him look nervous - having said that we did keep a clean sheet so I have no complaints.
What I didn't mention before the game was that Charlton fans are just as likely to spout rubbish, and I am, personally, a little embarrassed by some of the comments I've read on Charlton Life this morning (Sunday). Maybe I'm being uncharitable towards our fans following a big win, but I think there is often something to be gained by honest praise of opponents if and when appropriate.
Anyway my 'unbiased' view of the game is that we managed a good side and a strong vocal support to secure an unlikely but, probably, fair result. I've read a lot about how Wednesday are not all hit and rush, but there was little evidence of that yesterday. What we need to remember is that this is not Wimbledon in the old First Division in the late 80s, it is third division football, where it is both acceptable and, potentially, profitable to play a 'direct' style in this division.
I don't understand football snobbery at this level. Sure I'd rather watch passing football, but I am more interested in winning, and what ever gets us out of this division. It's clearly working for Wednesday who, until recently, had been top two fr weeks.
Anyhow, back to the game. As I was hoping to avoid defeat I thought it was important not to concede early. The opening ten minutes or so they came at us almost constantly. This was when Morrison looked a little shakey, and this was obviously a crucial time for us. I haven't seen us much away this season, so I can't comment on our normal game plan, but we did look like we were settling into the game before we started to open up and play a bit.
There were no real hair raising moments, but we did look like the away side. The fans were not as vocal as I'd expected, but it was early days, and many fans tend to wait for the team to lift them and not vice-versa.
As the game wore on we did start to look like we had found our feet and we had a few attacks. Nothing to get too excited about, but we did look like we had weathered the initial storm and the match had grown into the tense game I was expecting with the result likely to be a draw or a one goal margin win. Wednesday were negative in breaking up play. I would be tempted to call them cynical but to be honest I was going to save that word for the second half when they got much worse.
A free kick outside the box on our left gave us a good chance. You will all have seen the goal now, but it was a great free kick. Top right corner.
Suddenly we have something to defend. The last fifteen minutes we defended while attacking on the break, and I was glad to see half time, althought in the cold light of day I realise that we were not in any real trouble during that time, it just felt like it.
The second half had two different phases. For about half of it we both had breaks but we stood firm at the back and we just didn't quite hit that pass right, or just couldn't reach that ball. I guess, in truth, Wednesday were doing most of the attacking and we were hitting on the break, but we both had half chances (they were attaching the other end so my view was not as good). Then Megson took his last gamble and changed his side to a 4-3-3 and went all out for the win.
This had a couple of impacts. 1) They attacked more. 2) We defended more and more deeply. 3) This was the point that I would use the word cynical as their game plan seemed to be to sacrifice defending and just attack. This left them unable to cover break away attacks so they, literally, fouled every player that got on the ball. This should have brought a red card. If the first one had been red then I suspect the game would have changed as they would have had to defend differently. Ironically a red card would have changed the game and, it could be claimed that, it would have finished Wednesday's chances, but then so would have a goal if any of our attacks had been allowed to continue without a cynical, professional, foul. 4) The crowd seemed to wake up and made some serious noise.
It needs to be remembered that this team have only drawn two games at home this season and won nine. They even beat West Ham, with a last minute goal, at home last weekend. The fans, obviously, believed they were in the game right to the end. It made me more nervous, especially as the referee wasn't going to show a red card and we were not likely to get another shot on target if our players weren't going to get past their last defender, with both the ball, and their legs.
Bradley Wright-Phillips did manage to out run a defender and come in from the left to earn himself a one on one with Weaver. It was a great save, from a very narrow angle, but it was a reminder that this is a proper goal scoring striker and shouldn't be dropped despite a run of not scoring in recent weeks. When his luck changes and the goals come back I suspect that we will have more wins by bigger margins - but I'm more than happy with 1-0s or 2-1s.
From my perspective, especially with the increased support from the crowd I was happy to accept a draw at any time until the last fifteen minutes. I thought of a win as a bonus, but as the game came to a close I started to believe that we should hang on. Also as the noise levels increased I was convinced that if they'd got one we would have been under massive (and I used that word on purpose) pressure, until the final whistle, for them to get a winner.
They did play, and the fans supported, like a team that hasn't lost a game at home all season. They clearly believed that they would get a goal, but it wasn't to be and we won what I think was a defining game in our season. It wasn't as big a result as Huddersfield at home, nor, probably, Sheffield United away, but due to it being nearer the finishing line, than the other two games, it can feel more like an indication of what the end of the season will bring. Next week is another game of such stature, and I can't wait for that one either.
Just a couple of other observations: Chris Solly was immense. He has really proved himself this season and I couldn't be happier about it. Bradley Pritchard is another payer that has proved himself his season. No disrespect to Bradley but he has not achieved what Solly has this season but he made a big step up and with a layoff through injury to contend with, he has earned his place in the side and been more than worthy of it. It's a shame for him that Dale Stephens is back in the squad, but it is good news for us.
Semedo was unnoticeable today, save for his tackle that should have earned him a red card for him being the last defender. Sure it was on the half way line, but he was still the last defender. I think Semedo is the type of player that is better suited to a team that is looking to be negative and break up play which is why I think we haven't missed him so much. That Wednesday play this way is to his benefit, but if I'm honest I'm not sure he was of much benefit to them as they were chasing the game for such long periods of time. Anyway I wish him well. We signed him on a free and he left on a free and always give his all and seemed genuinely loyal to us while he was here. If he was able to earn much more elsewhere then good luck to him.
Last comment is about the coach journey. It was a long day leaving at quarter past seven and getting home at quarter past ten, but it was comfortable, we parked right outside the stand we were in and with an iPad loaded up with things to watch I wasn't too bored either. This method of transport seems even more acceptable with hundreds of fans missing the first half due to a problem on the trains. I would be tempted to do other away games on the coach if and when I am allowed the whole day out again.
Ironically, rather like the win over Huddersfield, this will have the shine taken off it somewhat as Wednesday are, suddenly, not the main challenger any more. They are now 4th so we are looking at Sheffield United and Huddersfield as the two, one of which we need to keep in front of. This is probably the biggest insult we can throw at the Wednesday fans I suspect, and if we fail to beat United next Saturday then this situation will be compounded.
Having said that, it was very, very nice at the final whistle yesterday, what with Sheffield Wednesday being such a massive club and all.
Up the Addicks!