Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Wonder Stuff ?

I know next to nothing about Walsall and even after spending 90 plus minutes in their company, I'm still none the wiser.

My knowledge of the Black Country outfit is based around their visit to The Valley for an F.A. cup game a few years ago, (we were humbled), and Mark Kinsella spending some time there. Despite these pearls of wisdom, it's mostly the fact that one of my favourite bands from my student days, the Wonder Stuff played a career capping gig at Walsall's Bescot Stadium.
Not much to go on.

The game today was not a cracker. Problems on the North side of the Blackwall Tunnel, the Jubilee line being out of action, a serious accident on Shooters Hill and the A2 being closed from midday at The Sun in the Sands junction meant that you REALLY had to want to make it to the Valley today.
In the circumstances, the attendance of 15,706 was actually fairly impressive, especially when Walsall appeared to only bring about 14 followers of their own.

I managed a swift pre match drink with New York Addick and then took my place in the fairly busy East stand.

Charlton had the best of the early exchanges but seemed to be playing at half pace, especially when compared to the hundred mile an hour final 30 minutes at Brisbane Road on Tuesday.

A close range, unchallenged header by Nicky Bailey in the first 5 minutes went over the bar. He really could and should have hit the target but this was an indication of how the Charlton team could cut through the Walsall defence at will, when they put their minds to it.

A series of free kicks for offside became a feature and the game had become a very dull encounter when the helmet wearing Miguel Angel Llera scored after a bit of a goal mouth scramble.
There were 29 minutes on the clock but it felt like more.
I actually missed the ball going over the line. I saw the deep cross from the left side by Bailey and then the ball appeared to hit the post. I grimaced, let out a groan and then realised that while I was moaning about our misfortune, the goal had been scored in the follow up.

My mind began to wander. I tuned into the chatter of a small child sitting behind us. He seemed to know two players -"Robbie" in goal and "Nicky" in midfield. Later he seemed to enjoy pointing out "Hat Man" when he spotted Llera.

Lloyd Sam was getting forward and seemed to have the measure of the Walsall defence. He had been one of my stand out Charlton players and seemed to be enjoying himself. With this in mind, the Walsall team must have let out a sigh of relief when Parky substituted Sam and Scott Wagstaff came on to replace him with around 20 minutes to go.

The substitution ended up being an inspired move as Wagstaff instantaneously upped the energy levels of the Charlton side and looked very dangerous.

A fantastic through ball, by Burton I think, sent Wagstaff through to a 'one on one' with the portly Ince in goal. He had a few seconds to compose himself but unlike vivid horror memories of Luke Varney or the recently departed Andy Gray, the youngster picked his spot and gave the keeper no chance.
Two nil and game over.

Charlton had a few more chances to put the icing on the cake but 2-0 was enough to put us top of the league on goal difference.

It would seem churlish to complain about a team that has won 4 games out of 4, including 2 away games. The points are the most important thing and the fact that the result was ground out, without playing particularly well or in an entertaining fashion is most encouraging.

I had my first thoughts about 'Doing a Leicester' today.
Who knows?

Casual Rating
I'm awarding a stylish Lacoste pique polo shirt to the much maligned Phil Parkinson.
Not only has he risen above to total hogwash and horse poo that some of the regulars on the Your Views section of the Charlton official website have written about him, he has now become lucky.
The Wagstaff for Sam substitution looked to be an error but it was a fantastic move with the benefit of hindsight. The football gods really came good for him. Well done Parky.

The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt goes to whoever decided the attendance was 19,000 odd and then had to backtrack amusingly.


Anonymous said...

It really was easy today. It was like men against boys.
I was at that Wonder Stuff gig at the Bescot.
Happy days.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I thought Sam was playing well but he looked tired just prior to being taken off. I chatted to a Saddlers fan on the train back to London Bridge and he said that he was surprised he was taken off as he looked to be a match winner.
Today the Sunday papers seem to agree, giving him good marks.
When I spoke to a mate this morning his first comment was about Sam having a poor game and how happy he was when he was taken off!
We as fans know nothing do we?