Tuesday night down The Valley saw new manager Bob Peeters continue his fine home form with a 3-2 win against promotion hopefuls Derby County, that's 3 out of 3 now for Big Bob in the space of a week, one that saw us through to the next round of the cup and the other two saw us beat two teams widely picked for promotion this season.
My afternoon and trip to to The Valley started early for a Tuesday night game, as I had a friend with me who was a Derby fan & we decided to have some grub at the O2 before getting the short bus trip into Charlton. I have often been to the O2 with friends before a home game and would recommend it as you have such a wide selection of bars and restaurants to choose from and you rarely find it ever that busy at the times we go before matches - unless of an evening game if they have an event on. We went for a Nando's and then after got the short 10 minute bus ride to Charlton Station where we enjoyed a few drinks with mates before the game.
As i said my friend was a Derby fan and he was quite cautious coming into the game after they have made a indifferent start to the season, narrowly beating Rotherham at home on the opening day and drawing away to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. He again like a few pundits are stating at the moment that we may well be underestimated by a lot of teams this season and could cause a surprise this campaign. Again the mood was buoyant in the Charlton camp following an unbeaten start and of course Saturdays last gasp victory.
We made our way into the ground with around 10 minutes to kick off taking my seat in a different spot from the Wigan came on Saturday as I had a few friends with me. The teams made there way out onto the Lush Valley surface on a fine Tuesday evening.
So again was great to see promising youngster Joe Gomez get his first ever league start at the age of 17 after an impressive debut last week against Colchester, Gomez being preferred to Wilson at right back who now is more comfortable in his right wing role & Gomez in front of Loic Nego who surely now cant have much of a future left at the club? The other change was young keeper Nick Pope in between the sticks after such a great season for him at York last season, fans had big prospects to see him giving his chance this season.
|Former Dutch impressionist Schteve McClaren|
After the goal Derby began to wake up with midfielder Bryson testing pope and Derby's slick one touch possession footbal started to see fruition. Charlton were still coming forward with again Gudmundsson proving lively and linking up well with Gomez at times, and Yoni Buyens had a rebound effort fired wildly over. Unfortunately after that we began to sit back and rest on our lead and let Derby come at us, no real pressure being put on from the defence letting them walk it up the half way line before anyone put on any means of pressure.
Last seasons top scorer Chris Martin causing problems with a few shots on goaland proving to be a target man in there team playing off him. You could sense this pressure and fine passing could lead to a goal & sure enough it did, after 30 minutes a low pass into the box saw Bryson dummy the ball expertly which allowed Jamie Ward to collect and fire home a powerful shot into the top corner from the edge of the box 1-1
It was a shame we conceded like that as we just kept dropping back and letting them have too much time on the ball, but in fairness Derby play off finalists from last season have a well organised team and there qualities were shining through so we cant be too despondent so far. Tucudean was having a good game and was not afraid to come back and win the ball which resulted in a bad late foul from Bryson which saw him receive a yellow card and in turn saw George have some lengthy treatment. It didn't seem like Charlton had learnt from there lesson as we still sat deep and allowed Derby a lot of time which resulted in a decent save from Pope from a fierce Bryson shot.
The fourth official put up 4 minutes of stoppage time and as the game was heading to a well balanced draw at half time a long route one kick from Pope saw a flick on from Vetokele into the feet of Tucudean who danced his way around two Derby defenders with some lovely footwork into the box.. It looked like he had taken it too far and should have shot earlier but was then bundled over by a Derby defender and the Referee duly pointed to the spot. From where i was sat it did look fortunate but looking at the replays since The ref had no choice but to give a penalty. Yoni Buyens stepped up after his spot kick success v Colchester. And here was the result of that penalty from where i was sat.
The second half saw Tucudean unfortunately after a promising first half replaced, maybe due to the big knock he took from earlier, on came Franck Moussa fresh from Saturdays winner! And for Derby young star Will Hughes was replaced by another upcoming star Omar Mascarell on loan from Real Madrid. The second half started as well as the first half started for The Reds as a great move saw Moussa tamely shoot wide. Moussa's pace was causing Derby a problems as he forced their defence into a poor back pass which Veotkele ceased upon and a good run saw his shot well saved from Grant.
Wilson came on to replace Cousins who had a good first half but had faded out with the fresh legs of Wilson required. Again Moussa was proving to be a nuisance as he won a free kick on the edge of the box which Johnnie Jackson stepped up only to fire narrowly over the bar.
The Charlton pressure finally paid off, Moussa ran down the wing made his way into the box but his cross was over hit only for Jackson to retrieve it and his lovely deft cross found Wilson who flicked on and some great reactions from Vetokele headed into the net and gave Charlton a well earned two goal cushion 3-1.
The scenes around The Valley were jubilant songs of "Were Charlton Athletic were top of the league" which indeed we were. Three could have easily been four has the energetic Gomez sprinted down the wing to find Wilson whose pass allowed Vetokele to turn in the box but he took too long to fire away his shot shooting into the hands of Grant. With five minutes to go in typical Charlton style we were not allowed to sit comfortable and with our two goal lead as the ball fell to Ward again on the edge of the box and he fired in a low shot which crept through the legs of Pope. Really felt for Pope not what you want on your full debut for the club. 3-2
|Bikey clearing in the last few mins|
So we were all set for a nervy last five minutes! But were we really? Well no, although Derby pressed Charlton's defence was solid and Pope stood up and was counted with some good takes from some inviting crosses. The relief at the final whistle was great and saw Big Bob running and punching the air in joy as he saw his team pick up 3 out of 3 home wins in seven days. Great to see Bob's passion at the final whistle as he applauded the fans on his way off and the tunnel jump duties were taken by debutant Gomez and captain Jackson and Vetokele with a joint effort.
Pope - Was great to see Pope start and as you'd maybe expect had a nervy game with some poor kicking and unfortunately the error for the second goal. But he did really command his area well with some good takes from crosses and there was some good shot stopping early on. Really hope the late error doesn't knock the big mans confidence as i can see him becoming a top keeper at this level.
Gomez - What a talent we have here! On his full league debut he impressed again defended really well and wasn't afraid to come forward. Please sign a 10 year contract Joe!
Bikey - He impressed again although Martin did provide him with a few problems up top, but none of them resulted in Derby creating a chance from it. He made some crucial clearances late on.
Ben Haim - A really good performance from Tal made some good blocks and clearances and seems a lot more confident.
Wiggins - He was relatively quiet I thought, hasn't really got going this season yet but then again didn't really do much apart from quite a few crosses coming in from his side, but this was down to a fine performance from Derbys full back Christie who i thought was there best player
Gudmundsson - What a first half he had! He really bossed the play for Charlton something we really missed last season. He takes the ball to the defence and also sprays some wonderful passes around too.Just his shooting to work on now! He kind of takes up a free role at times which really helps too. He faded a bit in the second half but still for me he was my man of the match.
Jackson - Really impressed with JJ last night he made some crucial tackles great blocks and well and truly got stuck in especially in the second half where a lot of people would say he fades.A real captains performance which led the team to victory.
Buyens - Another great performance from Yoni who never seems to tire up and down the pitch breaking up play and playing some great football. And we seemed to found a natural penalty taker now too a fine pen into the top corner.
Cousins - Seems to be really growing into his role of left wing with some great runs down there, faded in the second half and was replaced by Wilson
Tucudean - After apparently being jeered from some fans on Saturday came up wtith a fantastic performance a fine finish and assisted the penalty decision with a fine solo run. Unfortunately he had to come off at half time. Hope his knock isn't too bad.
Vetokele - He looks like he is really settling in well, his pace and trickery created a few chances for himself and his flick on led to the penalty decision. A great reaction header provided the crucial third.
Moussa- Came off the bench and really looked lively, loves running at defended and causes problems with his pace.
Wilson - Another energetic display from Lawrie who got forward and defended well.
Fox - Came on late to help Wiggins with Derby's promising right side of Christie & Russell.
|Derby fans in good numbers|
Away Fans - Derby brought a really good crowd down for a Tuesday night game in the Capital an attendance of 1434 who made themselves heard well at times, although I don't see why an away side need to bring a drum to make noise. The creator of the chant "Since I was Young" Would of had a proud night if he would have been in attendance at The Valley as both teams had a sing off the song.In the top part of the stand also is a massive flag which a fan takes to every game & at home games its gets surfed around the ground - In relation to that it would be great to see our Killer flag brought back one day soon!
Home Fans - The Valley was in decent voice last night as I always like the atmosphere of a game under the lights brings. The new full sections of the far East stand made themselves heard too which added to the atmosphere. Lets hope we can hear "Were Charlton Athletic were top of the league" A lot more this season!
Moan of the Match - Goes to my friend who sat behind me who never stopped taking the mick of what my moan of the match would be! Ha ha in all seriousness My moan would be how apparently Tucudean was jeered and fans already concluding the striker is no good for the club, how you can judge that already from a striker new to the league let alone the country is beyond me. Really glad he silenced them yesterday with a fine finish.
Moment of the match - Vetokele putting us 3-1 up saw The Valley go wild and was great to see the team all celebrating together.
Overall what can i say?!?! WOW! What a start! It's only four games into our season so lets all keep our feet on the ground but things really do look promising. Big Bob has got us playing some fine football and there are some real exciting players to match with Bob looking to add to that also. Really see signs of some play and players we really missed last season with the likes of Gudmundsson and Vetokele providing some much needed excitement! Unfortunately I cannot make the next two matches away at Hudderfield and the cup match at Derby so safe journey to all making the trips and make sure to be Loud and Proud!
Things do look promising at the moment after beating these two teams tipped for promotion! Lets hope this form continues into our next two games! COME ON YOU REDS.