22 August 2015

Charlton 2 Hull 1

One of those days that reminds you why you watch football. Bizarrely, I was offered a free sample of crackling - which I think is the same thing as pork scratchings - before the game. I didn't think I'd like it, but I'd just paid £2.10 for a cup of tea so I took it. I didn't like it but I ate every tiny scrap.

And that was the least of the treats the afternoon had in store. An extraordinary team lineup had Jordan Cousins filling in at right back, only one (if that) forward, and a bench of babies. This didn't look good.

Luckily Hull Tigers didn't turn up. Nothing feral and savage about the away team's first half display, which made me think that the FA's refusal to allow them the name-change was due to pressure from the WWF: maybe we can't conserve the tigers of the world, but we can at least protect their reputation, their brand value.

Steve Bruce was an unhappy man at half time. He wasn't the only one. Here's what some idiot tweeted:

Seven minutes later he had elegantly glanced a header off Gudmonssohn's cross into the net and everyone (every repentant idiot) was calling him #nuYann.

At this stage, Charlton were rampant. I'd have loved to see what Tony Watt could do in this position: goals were there to be had but were hadnt. As the hot, hot afternoon wore on Charlton's defence looked weary and wilted. With 90 minutes almost up they gave far too much space to Hayden, who should have done better than shooting straight at Nick Pope, who should have done better than spilling the ball to Hernandez (who should have been on the pitch much earlier than he was) who scored.

But then 8 minutes of extra time was announced. Absolute despair when Hull seemed to have stolen all three points followed by relief as the goal was ruled offside, followed by mad scenes of celebration as Makienok returned a favour and set up a goal for Gudmondssohn's powerful neck on 98 minutes.

Absolute bedlam for the rest of the game and long after the final whistle. The feeling was not just that Charlton had deservedly beaten a side widely thought to be favourites to be promoted, but they'd done it with a depleted team. And maybe the reason they'd won was there to be seen in the way Makienok's goal was celebrated by the whole team - just as Fox's had been two weeks ago. These guys really are playing for each other.

Eight points from the first four games is more than anyone could have predicted. Early, really early days, but this looks like a team that can make us proud.

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