Thursday, 2 October 2014

Knee Slide Nicks It In Norfolk

Norwich City 0 - 1 Charlton Athletic

Tuesday night in East Anglia saw the welcome return of the infamous Johnnie Jackson knee slide as Charlton shocked top of the table Norwich with a real smash and grab victory.

Tuesday saw us head to Norwich in our first evening away match in the league this season. Whilst many Charlton fans drove or got the club coaches I & a few friends took advantage of being able to get a train back to London after a midweek away game as normally most are too far to train it back!

Arrived in Norwich at around half five so in good time to have a few drinks and food and we headed to a pub called The Compleat Angler quite a large pub on the river where the pub was already quite full with Charlton fans there. From there it was a short 10 minutes walk to the stadium so all in all fairly easy away ground for close proximity to pubs, station & ground.

Arrived at the ground and thinking of what were we up against tonight? Well Norwich relegated from The Premiership last season had a good transfer window and kept most of the core of their team together, of course they lost a few big names to higher clubs but got good money and used the money in buying striker Grabban from Bournemouth and Jerome on loan from Stoke both had settled in well and were banging them in so we had to be on top of game to keep them out.

The Charlton line up saw two changes from Saturday of course again Chris Solly cant play 3 games in 7 days so he was as usual replaced my Joe Gomez & due to Gudmundsson's injury on the weekend he was replaced by Wilson. Giving Charlton a 4-4-1-1 formation again.
Line up

Teams out
This was our biggest test of the season, playing top of the table a hard task in itself but away from home where we have failed to win a game yet would be a massive challenge. But Norwich would be wary of us also having gone the season so far unbeaten.

The game started and within two minutes the experienced Hoolahan slipped through Grabban but his fierce drive was saved well by Henderson forcing it behind for a corner. Now was this the sign of things to come? Well again after 5 minutes Hoolahan again slipped in Grabban but this time his effort was  shot wide to the side of the goal.

Charlton then started to come into it Vetokele up front on his own again was causing trouble and won a free kick, of course Johnnie Jackson stepped up but his effort went over the bar. A few minutes later Vetokele then managed an effort at goal a  pass from Wilson to Igor who shimmied but his shot was straight at John Ruddy.

After that the game had cooled down a bit, as Henderson's kicking hasn't be great recently and we haven't a target man to aim for we started to play the ball from the back from the goal kick but a few times nearly ran us into trouble with no options available. Norwich were keeping possession well but the Charlton back four was strong and well organised and were not giving Norwich a sniff at goal.

There then was a talking point in the first half apart from all the wild handball shouts from the home crowd, as a corner came in for Norwich Henderson rose highest & claimed it but then as a fell he dropped it and Norwich poked home into the empty net, fortunately the ref had blown straight away as Bradley Johnson had fallen into Henderson forcing him to drop the ball, looked like the correct decision was made.

As the half reached it's end Charlton would be pleased to have kept Norwich's chances to few and would be hoping for more of the same in the second half and maybe nick a goal on the break.

The second half started and a few minutes in Jerome tested Henderson which he saved well with, but the Norwich pressure had started and it continued but shots from Tettey & a wild effort from Olsson failed to get on target.

Then on the hour mark came another shout for a penalty this time it was a big shout as Jackson had slid in to block a cross the ball then rebounded and hit Bikey's arm but the referee waved away the appeals luckily enough for us as it clearly did hit his arm and I have seen them given, which then of course infuriated the Norwich fans even more.

Then a few minutes later came the best chance of the match the lively Redmond got slipped in behind the defence his shot was saved by the onrushing Henderson but in came Hoolahan who shot in a scramble in the box but Wiggins was there to clear off the line.

I've read a lot of reports and Charlton fans who were listening on the radio saying that the nerves were really kicking in, well they were but although the constant pressure Norwich never really tested the keeper, however they passed and approached well but could never find the key pass to break us down and when they did Bikey was there to block and defend well. Grabban did have a chance with five minutes to go but again was shot wide of goal.

Then came the unexpected with only ONE shot on target all game and barely got out OF OUR HALF all game Johnnie Jackson found himself with space and he ran forward and then unleashed a low hard shot at goal which took a slight deflection off Johnson's boot and into the back of Ruddy's net! Delirium in the away end as with 4 minutes to go we had taken a surprise lead, and of course Jackson celebrated in his trademark way with the infamous Knee Slide followed by a bundle from the rest of the team & Bikey dancing and punching the air! Fantastic scenes. 0-1

Could we hold out? Well we did and easily, Norwich were shell shocked by the late goal and could not force an effort on goal in the closing stages. Academy star Ahearne-Grant came on for his debut and done good winning a throw on and holding the ball up well and made the time tick down till referee Russell blew his whistle and cue the celebrations from The Addicks faithful. Final Score 0-1

Although I had to rush and get my train managed to stay to see the players come over and celebrate with the fans at the end, great scenes of emotions and real passion from the players and most noteworthy from Big Bob he was punching the air with delight, what a massive win for The Belgian and he has really made his mark in first few months at the club.

A great team performance from the lads who all dug in well and got such an impressive victory, here's my player reviews.

Henderson - Had a few poor kicks again, but had a solid game saved well from Grabban & Redmond and apart from that didn't have many saves to make down to the fantastic four in front of him. There was a time when he didn't come off his line to collect a ball when Ben Haim had shielded it to him to which Ben Haim had to boot it out for a corner which he was annoyed about. But I saw Bikey calm the situation down and was a warning to keep the communication going.
Gomez - Another quality display from the 17 year old so strong in defence & even pushed Jerome off it and one stage . A fine defensive performance but took a knock & had to be replaced with twenty mins to go.
Bikey - Another fine performance and one we just expect from him, headed any danger away and was firm in tackles and blocks.
Ben Haim - Again solid display play from Tal never really gave Jerome or Grabban a decent sight at goal.
Wiggins - Best I've seen him play in a long long while, was cool and composed with some vital interceptions and brought the ball away well under pressure.
Wilson - One of the top performers he played in three different positions during the game and finished at right back due to the injury to Gomez, he worked his socks off and dug in well for the team as always.
Buyens - Was sloppy at the start giving away possession needlessly but grew into the game and worked hard in stopping Tettey and Johnson creating anything from midfield.
Jackson - My man of the match, In recent weeks and all season in fact he has worked his socks off and Tuesday night was no exception. Missed a few golden chances v Wolves the other week and I wrote on Saturday him and Buyens need to get forward more and have a go and to that he did! A fine low drive (with a deflection) won us all three points and Johnnie was a fine leader throughout to claim them.
Cousins - Worked really hard had helped the defence out well too. In the second half he played a role behind Vetokele but didn't see enough of the ball down to the Norwich pressure.
Bulot - Worked hard and managed to bring the ball away well at times to take off the pressure so nearly scored when Vetokele crossed it in low but he didn't throw himself at it.
Vetokele - Very hard for Igor being the lone striker against an experienced defence but again he worked hard to the little supply he got.

Home Fans - Very good noise throughout from the Norwich fans to our right and in the corner and a very good attendance of 25 thousand home fans on a Tuesday night. They did claim handball a lot which caused a few laughs between both sets of fans.

Away Fans - No official number but there was around 600 Charlton fans in attendance who made a decent noise throughout hard when your team is under so much pressure too! The scenes when we scored were brilliant and the noise that followed too and of course the scenes at the end were class too great effort. Ok it would've been nice to have brought more but at £30 a ticket and on a Tuesday night it was decent.

Moment of the Match - Easy this week, after being under the cosh nearly all game what a moment to go down the other end with four minutes to go and win the game against the league leaders. Thank you Johnnie Jackson I will savour that moment for a very long time.

Moan Of The Match - Bradley Johnson just seemed like he wanted to cause trouble as always. First he knocked down Henderson for the disallowed goal. Second when Henderson kicked the ball out when Gomez went down with an injury he refused decent sportsmanship and never gave the ball back and played on to attack the Charlton goal. And thirdly as the final whistle went he's then squaring up to 17 year old Grant.

Ref Watch - Think the referee had a decent game and let the play flow well. Obviously the Norwich fans thought otherwise, booed him throughout as he refused them a few penalty shouts. One which I have seen given before where hit it Bikey off a Jackson block would have been harsh as they were so close together but he kept his head and waved away protests.

Wow what a feeling coming away from the ground a fantastic three points, a game going into it we would have been happy with a draw. There's a lot of character in this team and a lot of leaders who so passionately give it their all for the team and led so well by a fine example in Johnnie Jackson, read a few people saying they wanted to drop him for Tuesday nights game but he as usual proved the doubters wrong with a fine performance and the vital winner.

Norwich played the ball well but could not break down a hard fought Charlton defence, although their fans blamed the referee the blame really lies on their team not taking there chances in the final third. But you can tell with the squad they have they will definitely be up there and personally I think they will be champions, again for me showing what a result it was for us.

Got back to Liverpool Street at 00.15 and managed to get home at 01.30 so not bad and the journey home was an enjoyable one especially after a victory like that! We now look forward to home game against Birmingham on Saturday our last game before the international break so hopefully we can head into it on a high. We will be full of confidence after the result on Tuesday but so will Birmingham after beating Millwall(WAHAAYY) on Tuesday too. COME ON YOOOOU REDS!!

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