Charlton Athletic 0 - Nottingham Forest 2
So, "Where have you been?" is the question precisely nobody has asked me since my last post.
To answer the question, I've still been at all of the CAFC home games, a few aways, plus a trip to Lille to see LOSC, a few exciting non football day trips and stopovers blah, blah blah......
In an effort to fight off the label 'ex blogger', I'm now scratching my head and wondering how I used to just pick up my MacBook and tickle the keys to produce a posting.
It seems a little too much like a chore just now.
Yesterday was one of those 'typical' Charlton supporter days.
Over the years, I've become used to the pre/post match meet ups and libations being the best part of a day, -the happiness only tempered by having to watch my team balls it up for a period sometime in the middle.
The Rose of Denmark was full of familiar faces on both sides of the football sandwich.
Luckily for me, I have the ability to retain the joy of a win for the rest of the weekend but a defeat is fairly quickly consigned to the "Ah, sod it, there'll be better days" department of my brain.
As a Season Ticket holder at the Valley, that's quite a useful quality to have this term.
Four from seventeen is not the kind of record to be flagging up when you're trying to promote next season's sales, so good luck to whoever it is that has to come up with a groovy gimmick to get the half hearted supporters committing to more of the same.
Forest arrived yesterday, high on the dismantling of Huddersfield just a few days before.
We should have been equally confident after an unexpected but totally deserving win away at Leicester the same night.
It quickly became evident that there was only one team in it.
It wasn't us.
An established Championship side with skill and guile throughout, Forest barely had to get out of first gear to dispatch a weak and error strewn Charlton performance. Barely an attack from those in red all game and any transference of possession to Charlton was usually just a precursor to one of our heroes giving it straight back again.
Games Charlton have lost recently have usually been rather unlucky, where just one or two moments of skill or bad judgement have decided a game where we had at least been making some decent chances.
This was not the case yesterday.
Charlton were still at 0-0 but being outfought all over the pitch when the turning point came.
***Now I'm writing this without looking at any television pictures so I fully admit I may have got it wrong, but from my view, Halford had been annoying Kermorgant all afternoon with snidey kicks and shoves. When he came in quite aggressively, then shielded the ball away from Yann, the Frenchman waved his leg a bit. It wasn't an attempt to clatter him, just a frustrated swing of his boot.
(I repeat here, I could be wrong).
What happened next though I'm 100% sure of.
Halford reacted like the frightened housewife seeing the mouse in her kitchen in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, launching himself skywards, falling with a twist, then ascending from the floor with anger to square up to Yann, pushing him in the chest.
So far, a yellow card each seemed to be the correct decision and let's get on with the game.
The Forest players had other ideas and came in on mass, bundling into Yann, pushing and shoving, pointing and gesticulating.
Oddly, the linesman over on the other side of the pitch was the only official who seemed to know what had happened and after a discussion with our hapless referee, Yann was off.
Well done to the Forest players. They'd completely bought that red card with all their chicanery. Halford got off scot free which did seem rather wrong, especially as he had promoted the whole melee with his over reaction and pushing of Kermorgant.
We'd probably have lost even with 11 players but with 10 it was just a question of how long we could hold out.
We were unlikely to be producing much upfront with our major threat now luxuriating with his Lynx shower gel beneath the west stand.
The fact that Charlton managed to hold the score to just 2-0 was very pleasing, especially with Andy Reid dictating play with some amazing through balls for his colleagues.
The goals when they came were disappointing.
The first came after another fantastic Reid pass but the scorer seemed to pull Wagstaff back in order to get the space he needed to shoot.
The second came when the referee decided there was no foul on a bundled over Dervite and let play continue.
The referee was not to blame though for the goal 10 seconds later. A tame shot bobbled through to Hamer who didn't even need to dive. He could have just taken a step to his right and scooped the ball up.
Unfortunately he didn't, then let the ball squirm out of his grasp for the easiest tap in goal you've ever seen.
Hamer has been a strong player for us this season and has made some point saving stops but he was at fault for this goal and he was at fault for the 1-0 defeat at Hull.
As a goalkeeper, there is nowhere to hide.
He realised he'd dropped a clanger and for the next 10 minutes he looked a complete liability. He'd lost his cool and I was sure he was going to do something stupid.
The game ended with probably around half of the announced attendance still inside the stadium.
So many people had left it seemed more like a home game for Forest.
They brought a large following who were up for it.
It's not the nearest club to the Valley but they packed out the Jimmy Seed like few other clubs have done this season.
I like Forest. They are a 'real' club with 'real' supporters. They've had the amazing European adventures that I remember cheering them through via (rare in those days) televised games as a schoolboy.
They've also had the downward spiral of relegations that we know so well, yet they still retain that 'Big Club' aura that more recently successful clubs will never attain.
I was very impressed with Forest yesterday, though I must say I was bitterly disappointed by the abundance of tights being worn by their players.
I can't imagine ex Forest hard man (and fan of excellent music) Stuart Pearce would have let that go on if he'd still been around the dressing room.
Primark novelty slogan t-shirts are being awarded for that discrepancy, with the Lacoste polo going, of course, to our ex hero Andy Reid.
Bring on Burnley!