21 January 2012

Charlton 1 Sheffield Utd 0

Let's just look at this for a moment. Huddersfield are still playing as I type this, and have just taken the lead, so they could move up to second, but they'd still be 7 points behind and still have played one more match than Charlton. We've seen several teams have a crack at challenging Charlton, and any of those top 5 could have had their moment this season, but Charlton have just been so consistent that they've established this impressive lead without anyone outside SE7 noticing.

"Charlton" and "consistent": not two words you have expected to find together for a good few years. As the season goes on, it becomes more obvious how important the role of the defence is. The two fullbacks must be the best in the division, and could easily hold their own in the Championship. In the middle, Morrison and Taylor are rock-like. Only Man City have now conceded fewer goals this season. We've seen Charlton in full flood at times this season when you believe they can beat anybody, and we've also seen edgy performances, when goals are scarce but one is all they need. The strength in defence means the team can ride out the dodgy periods, like Bradley Wright-Phillips' recent barren patch. The first few months of the season was built on his goals. I feel desperate for him to get scoring again, but look! it doesn't matter to results or position in the table if he doesn't. Or look at today, when our goalkeeper had a bit of a mad day, but the defence took care of him.

Sheffield Utd were the best team to come to the Valley this season, and they came on a good run of results. You could see the quality in the team from the start: intelligent running and passing, a good understanding between the players.

But they didn't really look sharp in attack, and after Johnnie Jackson's goal - a sweetly hit free kick from about 25 yards into the top left corner - they were less impressive in the first half.

The second half saw them throwing everything at Charlton, and it was a gripping, sometimes hard to watch match. Charlton's midfield didn't seem to be working quite as well as usual, and Utd must have had a huge majority of possession. But that defence soaked it up, and all but 2,694 of a huge crowd for this division (20,000 +) were ecstatic with the result. Like last week's 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday, it properly proves Charlton are where they are because they deserve to be.

I can't end this post on such a positive note. So must mention that today's referee, Mr Deadman, had a shocker. But what the heck! Even that can't spoil the fun. 

Why not read the Charlton website review?

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