Monday, 3 January 2011
A View From The Weston Homes Community Stadium...
I made a last minute decision to head to Colchester on Saturday: my withdrawal symptoms for a game of football overcome my concerns about a possible wasted journey against a club in Colchester who have become somewhat of a bogey-team of late. The Weston Homes Community Stadium is just 35 mins away from my front door - making it closer than The Valley - and given that I was heavily involved in the internal fit-out of the stadium when it was built in 2008, it is always nice to go back there. The spontaneous nature of my day out made the whole experience enjoyable, despite a feeling of frustration that we could, and perhaps should, have capitalised on playing ten men for the majority of the game to come away with three points.
The official website referred to the game as 'thrilling', but despite the scoreline, this was no classic. There was a decent away following, considering it being New Years Day (although my iPhone seemed to be quite insistent it was the 1st of February despite my persistence in telling it otherwise) but despite this, the mood was strangely subdued. Perhaps talk of the take-over had taken precedence over matters on the pitch. Charlton stuttered their way through the game, lacking in consistency and that inspirational spark that we so desperately need going forward. For every good moment there was two or three bad ones. For every successful pass there was three or four misplaced ones (Francis, in particular, would have come away from this game with a truly awful ratio of successfully completed passes and Parky must begin to recognise this fact). It may well be fair comment to suggest that we showed great character to come from behind three times, but the greater concern is how we conceded in the first place. But despite the concerns, we may well have won the game. Benson's late equaliser was worth the entry fee alone and he should have been celebrating the winner moments later. I've not had the chance to see the goal again, but as the ball crossed the line my only thought was 'goal'. Such is my nature, if I'd have sensed any hint that it may be contentious, I'd have glanced straight at the referee and held my celebration until he signalled a goal. On this occasion I felt no need to. I don't need to see Benson's sending off again to know that that decision was an absolute joke and summed up the sort of day the referee had. Without question, that red card was about levelling up the balance of poor decisions over the 90+ mins.
I must praise Jackson for once again stepping up and successfully taking two high-pressure peno's. It certainly appears that Jackson acquired the role of penalty taker by virtue of the fact nobody else was brave enough to do so: perhaps a reluctant hero in this regard. Credit to him for that. He may not exude the sort of confidence of a Clive Mendonca or Darren Bent, but his technical ability with a dead ball is as good as we have at the club so he's well qualified. Although I may be critical at times of some of the predictability of our forward play, the penalties-given statistics speak for themselves and on that bases, Jackson may well face the immense pressure of a one-on-one with the opposition goalie a few more time this season. Having reluctantly acquired a similar role for a season when I played football (albeit at Sunday League standard), I confess I couldn't wait to give the job up. I took 7 peno's that season, including a successful conversion in a league cup final, missing one (does it sound better to say the keeper saved it?). My problem was not the mental pressure (that was perhaps my strongest asset), it was the fact I was not technically very good at striking a dead ball. Penalties are not as easy as they look.
So on to Swindon, and the memories of that truly awful dark night back in May come flooding back. With Charlton perilously close to slipping back to mid-table (just 3 points separate us with Colchester in 10th), a big performance is required...and, to be fair, long overdue.