Sunday, 6 December 2009
Yesterday was a little like being a frequent guest at one of the Ambassador's receptions, only to find that at the critical moment, the chocolates had now been replaced with a polo mint.
The last two Valley games have been crackers. Six goal thrillers with inventive play, opportunities to 'discuss' the merits of the referee and goals at each end.
We were now fed a diet of footballing scraps on a wet (but not windy for a change) afternoon that was low on both incidents and action.
Southend really gave it a go. The first ten minutes showed their intent. They had no intention of 'parking the bus' and pushed forward. They carried on in this fashion throughout the entire game, only for their finishing to be more of a danger to those sitting high in the stands than the back of Robbie Elliot's net.
As a proportion of their paltry home support, Southend brought an astonishing number of supporters. They seemed more interested in pointing out the empty seats in the home sections and booing Nicky Bailey than getting behind their team.
The crowd of seventeen and a half thousand were practically mute. Support for Nicky Bailey aside, the atmosphere was very poor.
Crispy arrived late due to Thameslink/Jubilee line/ Network South East hassles.
Soon after he had taken his seat, Lee Barnard took an eternity to steady himself, calibrate his boots, take in the view of the North stand, check wind speed and add a few more items to his list for Santa before taking his shot.
His shilly shallying gave Rob Elliot the time to rush out and smother his drive with his legs. Had Barnard shot quicker, Charlton would have been certainly one nil down.
Racon started on his quest to gain a yellow card with persistent fouling in dangerous positions but Southend didn't punish us.
On twenty five minutes, Lloyd Sam whipped in a speedy cross for Deon Burton to head home in front of the away support.
Half time was spent queuing for a hot cup of Bovril. The second half had already started by the time I got back to my seat. The school leavers who are the public face of the catering seemed totally surprised that there should be a rush of customers around 3:45pm.
TWO people serving?
Someone needs to have a word.
The second half was a yawn.
Richardson didn't make it back for the second half so perhaps he was brought back from injury too early.
It was almost a relief when the referee blew his whistle to end the game.
Southend looked the better side, without actually creating any danger. I don't remember either keeper making a save after Elliot's effort to foil Barnard.
A win is a win and the three points are very useful but this was a game to be endured, not enjoyed.
The result was ground out, against stubborn opposition.
Just the kind of performance that is needed to continue our progress towards the target of promotion.
A Casual Rating
I've been less than impressed with some of the officials at the Valley lately. Yesterday the East stand lino managed to find himself waving a naked stick after losing the fabric from his flag!
I am however, awarding the Lacoste polo shirt to the referee, a Mr. D McDermid. He realised that none of us had come to see him and let the game flow whenever possible. He played some good advantages for both sides and no doubt raised his stock with the Football League.
The dreaded Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is going to Nicky Bailey.
It must have been a tough afternoon for him, being centre stage and everyone watching to see how he reacted.
Unfortunately, he let himself down badly.
When the game plodded on into a period of added on time, he was guarding the the ball against the line by the East stand. A Southend player gave him a gentle nudge but he went down as if he had been shot from the stands and then proceeded to roll around on the floor like a five year old having a tantrum.
While rolling, he was grasping his calf and looked to be in real trouble.
He was obviously seriously injured.
I wasn't sure we would be seeing him again until January at the earliest.
It was very odd and highly shameful when he suddenly jumped to his feet, then sprinted to rejoin the action.
When compared to the appalling bad luck of Jimmy Bullard and the real tears he showed yesterday, Bailey did himself no favours at all.