My desire is always to be found at Valley Floyd Road .. Those are the lyrics to our famous Charlton song and that's where we were last night for the first round of the League Cup.
Many more Charlton fans than usual we're looking forward to our first home game of the season this year...Why?!?! Well most importantly a brand new playing surface, fresh new seats & a few nice surprises too. As I arrived at the ground just after six I walked past the superstore and was greeted by the new surprise features around The Valley and what a pleasant surprise it was.
|Arise Sir Chris|
Whatever happened with Sir Chris over last season, it is truly fitting that he deserves a big feature like this at the ground a true Charlton legend & a truly nice chap so what a lovely touch from the club. There are lots more of these new large poster designs all around the ground you may have seen others posting the other designs on twitter and so forth, but just in case you didn't and were not at the game last night I'll leave you to be surprised come Saturday. Just to say that I love these new features at the ground really adds a sense of pride and character around the place which was somewhat bereft of it before. A real statement of pride and great moments down memory lane for all and at the same time recognising and appreciating some true greats this club has had.
Pre match for me on Tuesday evening consisted of having a few beers in Bartrams with friends, Bartrams does have already some great Charlton memorabilia and memories in the corridors there so great to see them replicating that now around the ground. The first thing on show was that the bar staff all had new uniform on looking very flash, and there was a new area where it looks like hot food will be served also. As a regular attendee of Bartrams at half time things were looking good. As we made our way into the ground for the start of the match in to the west lower the stand was absolutely heaving mainly due to the east not being open on the night so only lower north and lower west was open, with most fans fancying seeing the action from the side view of the pitch.
|The teams line up|
The teams came out Colchesters away strip looking distinctly like Watford's home kit felt like deja vu from last game at The Valley! And Pitch side announcer Dave Lockwood announced Charlton Legend Mark Kinsella onto the touchline as he is now the assistant manager of Colchester. Great to see Kin Kin Kinsella back, a player who stood for the real ethos of the club. P.S you may see a Mark Kinsella poster like Sir Chris's around the ground also ;-) The teams entered onto our fine new playing surface with hopefully some fine football to be played on it also! The Charlton team had a few changes in there as you'd expect.Henderson
So the Addicks lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with six changes in the starting eleven from the Brentford game. Henderson again chosen in goal which was a shame in my opinion to not see Pope given a go as he had a fine end to last season with York and it would be nice to see him get a go in a smaller reputation game like this. But you can see why Henderson was chosen as to increase his relationship and familiarity with his new teammates. The other stand out from the team sheet was the inclusion of young rising star defender Joe Gomez who was recently in the England u17's winning European champions team in the heart of defence. So it was great to see him given his first team debut & great to see another youth product coming through the ranks.
The game started slowly with neither side creating any clear cut chances, Lawrie Wilson was in my opinion his best position of right wing and was proving trouble for the Colchester defence unfortunately Tucudean playing the lone striker role couldn't get on the end of his inviting balls into the box.
The game finally then sprung to life in the 23rd minute when Tucudean expertly cut the ball back for Franck Moussa to fire into a empty net with the keeper stranded.. Francks shot rebounded off a Colchester defended and fell for Harriott to fire home only to find his effort blocked also.. There were cries of handball and the referee pointed to the spot and awarded Charlton a penalty. Quite harsh from where i was sitting as Okuonghae the Colchester player in question had slid in with his back to the ball and it looked liked it had rebounded off his back with replays backing up the defenders case. However the referee view it has denying a goalscoring opportunity and he was duly giving his marching orders. Yoni Buyens stepped up and cooly placed the penalty to put us 1-0 up, really calm penatly so we could see him taking the honours this season after Jackson's miss against Pompey.
As Colchester were now down to ten men Charlton then gained control of the match and were playing some nice neat football with Gomez & Wilson combining well down the right side, and Andre Bikey coming forward well with runs from defence.The other chance saw a well worked training ground routine corner from Cousins who passed low on the floor into the box to set up Tucudean but his shot was blocked. Although there were more efforts on goal from Harriott & Moussa the game went into half time with the Addicks 1-0 up and with a man advantage.
|Action from the first half|
The second half again like the first half started slowly, but then eight minutes in a neat pass from Cousins sent through Lawrie Wilson and he finished like a natural finisher past the keeper, great to see his hard work paying off. Wilson wasn't finished, he again was played in this time from Moussa and he again finished really well, calmly placing it past the keeper. He again was proving to supporters that he's "Alright" cue the song! We were certainly "Walking in a Wilson Wonderland" And the game was surely out of reach from Colchester now.
Charltons extra man showed and the dominance continued, Tucudean showed lovely feet to take it round the keeper and from a tight angle was unlucky to see a on rushing defender slide in to clear off the line. Subs were made during these periods new hit man Vetokele came into the fray, so did new winger Gudmundsson and Simon Church also came on with a big point to prove this season. Church looked lively as always and was set through on goal with the keeper to beat but again like last season his end product was lacking.However Church's persistence paid off when a long range shot from Gudmundsson which was parried out from the keeper and Church followed up well from the rebound and tucked it away nicely for a comfortable 4-0 Final score. Yes 4-0 I put the the right score this time ;-)
A brief review on player performances..
Henderson - Didn't have much to do, but what ever he did have to do did well & looked a lot more comfortable than the start of the Brentford game which he grew into. He also looked to get a lot more of a relationship going with his defence.
Fox - Didn't see too much of fox but in my eyes that's a good thing don't remember him putting a foot wrong and looked like he was carrying on his fine form from last season.
Morrison -Acting Captain, Unlucky not to start against Brentford on the opening day Morro came out with a point to prove and he had comfortable solid game and even produced a few silky skills.
Bikey - A contender for man of the match again! Really played well showed his strength in tackles and in the air and his array of passing was on show too.
Gomez - For me man of the match (Sorry Lawrie) Simply because he looked so calm and played so well on his debut and looks a fantastic prospect to come. A real old head on young shoulders didn't panic at times, and was dependable great touch and even came forward well a position he may not be used to as usually he plays at the heart of defence.
Harriott - Showed glimpses of his form of late last season.. But still hasn't quite got his mojo back yet.
Buyens - Again proving to be a great acquisition to the side hard working and solid passing again from him & a cool penalty to cap his first goal for the club.
Cousins - Thought he was very poor in the first half playing in his natural central midfield, role poor touch and wayward passing letting him down. Second half he grew into the game and looked better.
Moussa - A signing i was really excited by and although his pre season was plagued by injury he looked quite sharp in patches, a lot more to come from him.
Wilson - A fantastic game from Wilson, worked hard as usual in his best position of right mid. Got forward well finishing neatly in both goals and got back well helping out youngster Gomez on occasions. His crossing also caused a lot of trouble in the defence and hopefully can be read better from strikers next time. He also took the hounours of the infamous tunnell jump. New Cult Hero?
Tucudean - Improved on his performance against Brentford, a neat pass made the penalty happen & he was unlucky not to score in the second half.
So overall a solid win & Peeters first at the club, maybe a bit unfortunate with Colchester going down to 10 ( As I write this I see they are appealing it) but in football decisions come round in swings and roundabouts and it was nice to see Charlton take advantage of the situation when in times in the past we have not been able to.
The pitch looked great and held up well despite the rainy conditions great to see after a few years of a ripped apart surface, now we have one that we can be proud of. The club crest lies now on the halfway line in between both technical areas too which again looks very smart and a welcome new addition to the ground.
Home Fans - A decent attendance of around 5,300 home fans there but sadly no real noise apart from the cheering of the goals!
|Home fans in the covered end|
Away fans - Fair play to the the 472 Colchester fans there in the Jimmy Seed stand, a decent number considering we did play them quite a few times in league one. They made themselves heard at times but as the scoreline got worse they lost belief.
|472 Colchester Fans|
Moment of the match - For me seeing a new young star coming into the side and fitting in so well in Joe Gomez a real star for the future.
Moan of the match - This time does not actually come from the game. Despite new catering none of what they actually promised on the boards advertising seemed on sale when asked for. My dad attended the Millennium Suite for the first time and couldn't believe they served the food from cardboard cartons. Hopefully it will all work perfectly for our first league match on Saturday.
Overall I know the game was just a cup match but a win is a win and that derives confidence into the team which now hopefully we can take into a tough home match again Wigan at The Valley on Saturday. COME ON YOU REDS