Fulham 3 - Charlton Athletic 0
|"How many books can we borrow?"|
After winning 3 points on Tuesday night, Charlton headed West to the comfy part of Hammersmith for a tear up with Hugh Grant, Nigel Havers etc etc.
As would be expected for a game so close to home, Charlton sold out the visiting supporters allocation and while being in fine voice, were not treated to anything like the result we would have hoped for.
Pre game, in The Lazy Fox, just around the corner from Chelsea's Stamford Bridge, I'd predicted a loss by "more than one goal" and so it came to pass.
Within a quarter of an hour, the game was effectively over as Scott Parker ran the show.
Despite starting his career at Charlton, his premature departure to bench warm at Chelsea means he will always receive a rather 'frosty' reception from the Addicks.
He had been an integral part of our best season in the Premier League but his move in the final few hours of the January transfer window, just a couple of months after signing (by Charlton standards) a new ridiculously lucrative contract means he more than earned his 'Greedy Basket' moniker.
Nobody will question Parker's football ability and he outshone everyone else on the pitch.
After Parker's opening goal, Rodallega doubled the Cottagers advantage.
Charlton chased shadows for the rest of the half.
The injury crisis, coupled with a threadbare squad, has meant some players who should really be brought on for just 10 minutes here and there, (to give them a taste of life outside 'the kids') are being asked to carry the team through.
Sometimes this proves to be a blessing in disguise, as we saw with the emergence of Diego Poyet last season but it can also crush a young player if they find they aren't quite ready for the bigger stage.
At half time I couldn't see any way that Charlton were going to get anything out of the game.
As usual, we'd saved up one of our worst performances for when we were having a rare televised game.
There can't be another team who has a worse record for wilting under the cameras.
It's a good job we aren't Leeds United SkyTVFC or we'd never win a point!
A very different Charlton came out in the second half.
While the Fulham keeper was rarely called upon to make a meaningful save, part two was all one way traffic.
Corner after corner, attack after attack but unfortunately the deflections just didn't fall for us and the final pass just wasn't perfect.
With Charlton sending Bikey up front to try and batter his way through the stubborn defence, we were left with only 3 at the back for alarming moments.
It was only a matter of time before the gaps Charlton were leaving were exploited and Rodallega poked home his second as the game entered the final minute.
A few hundred of the 3,000+ Charlton support took the goal as an exit sign but the majority stayed on to bullishly tell the viewing public and the Fulham Marcel Marceau fan club that we were "Charlton til we die".
Three-nil sounds a pretty convincing defeat and for the first half it really was.
The second half was much more like it.
Unfortunately, unlike Fulham, we don't have £15 million worth of forward talent at our disposal.
The chances Charlton made should certainly have lead to at least 2 goals but the quality just wasn't there.
I love the idea of our Youth coming through and making a name for themselves but it needs to be managed better.
Network freebies are all well and good but we also need some players with tried and tested Championship ability if we are to progress.
Fulham looked a pretty decent side last night.
It would be very tough to convince me away from my theory that many of their side were playing deliberately crud to get rid of the hated Felix Magath earlier in the season.
If only half of the stories about him are only half true, he's a grade A nut job and Fulham are well shot of him.
Kit Symons was effectively using the live televised game as the final paragraph of his presentation to claim the Fulham manager job.
Despite his period as a Nigel, I've always quite liked Kit Symons and recall him playing with distinction for Portsmouth and Manchester City.
|You're Kit, aaaah!|
He's certainly made a massive difference to the atmosphere behind the scenes at Craven Cottage, (if not the atmosphere on match days which surely remains one of the worst anywhere in the country).
The Valley is never going to be compared favourably with the 'Welcome to Hell' fan antics of Galatasary but I can guarantee the place would be rocking if we were outplaying a local team and winning 2-0 on a Friday night under the lights.
The 'other' kit on show last night was our fake Barca atrocity, probably one of the most disliked outfits ever to be seen on the backs of Charlton players.
There are people who will try to add 2 and 2 together and blame our only 2 defeats this season on the 2 times the tango kit has been worn.
Unfortunately, it's only a coincidence but I can't imagine *anyone shelling out for the kit now.
*I write this as someone who has the 'original' Barca shirt, bought for the princely sum of a fiver, (in a Sale), and within moments relegated to bed wear.
We can now lick our wounds for a week before the visit of Sheffield Wednesday.