Well, what a fantastic Easter. Two wins, two clean sheets, and other than a few more goals - particularly in yesterdays game - to boost our goal difference, what more could we ask for? Results elsewhere over the weekend went as expected, and so our consolidation of the 5th spot should be viewed as a success. I still can’t quite believe we’re only two points off of the second place, given our less than inspiring form over the last few months. The division is shaping up for a truly nail-biting finish, in which it is looking increasingly likely that the conclusion of the priceless second automatic promotion spot will be decided on May 8th.
Reflecting further on yesterday’s game, I sensed some positives giving me hope that we can put a run together, not least of all, the impressive and powerful performance by Sam Sodje, who appears to have regained that air of invincibility that had all-but-disappeared leading up to that awful performance at Bristol Rovers. He will be so important for us this Saturday against Lambert and co. In the same respect, I thought Semedo looked once again the player who was so impressive in the first few months of this campaign. He is head and shoulders my favorite Addick, and alongside Racon our central midfield looks to be hitting form. As noted elsewhere, the combination of Richardson and Sam, particularly at home, is always threatening. I must also confess that I found it rather comforting to see Dailly with the skipper’s armband. I have nothing against Bailey as a captain per se, but I do feel that his performances have suffered on occasions as he has attempted to single-handedly drag Charlton along. His obvious high standards and self-imposed pressure to lead the team by example is not always productive to his own individual performance. With this in mind, perhaps we need a cooler, more experienced head leading the team, of which there can be few better examples in League One than Sir Christian of Dailly. I thought the colossal figure of Akpo Sodje did very well when he came on. He’s far from graceful, that much is obvious, but he’s an awkward individual to keep quiet. Like an Australian road train, he takes some time to drag his huge frame from a standing start, but once mobile and running, he must strike fear in to any centre-back. Without seeing it again, I though he was unlucky to have his goal disallowed. I wonder whether Bailey could play in that role linking the midfield to a lone striker? At least that would allow the hit-or-miss Reid to keep throwing the dice on the left, with the magic moments justifying his inclusion. Well done, also, to the Valley faithful, who turned out in numbers to make up for the entirely understandable lack of away support. I thought the atmosphere was a little nervy and reserved at times: perhaps as we all recognise the fragile fine line between success and failure is never more evident than at this stage of a season.
I had a look this morning at the remaining fixtures for the 4 teams that appear set to battle for the remaining automatic promotion spot. It pains me to say it, but on paper, our run-in looks by far the more formidable. The consolation being the games against CUFC, Norwich and Leeds are all at home. My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that if we can grab a draw against Southampton (away), then take a minimum of 4 points from CUFC and Norwich (home), then I think we will be left with the daunting prospect, but none the less achievable task of requiring 3 wins from our remaining 3 games (Exeter A, Leeds H, Oldham A) if we are to stand a chance of going straight up. And even then we need goals, which may prove the hardest thing to achieve in volume.
Not too much to ask, is it?
Mind you, it does throw up another issue to consider. A month or so back I would have been grateful to simply ensure a Play-Off place considering our stuttering form, but as we thankfully look upwards once again, we face the dreaded prospect of missing out on the automatic promotion place by what could be the narrowest of margins (maybe even goal difference). The blow would be immeasurable.