One consolation regarding the unfortunate defeat at Brisbane Road on NYE was that the naysayers had no time to rev-up their doom and gloom propaganda before we faced Brentford at the Valley yesterday. Granted, without the verve we'd love to see on a regular bases, the heavy-legged Addicks laboured to what was perhaps a rather flattering scoreline considering Brentford's slick passing, industry and first-half dominance, but it was a solid performance none the less and a clean sheet is most welcome. Solly and Wiggins were excellent once again, Pritchard continues to impress and Kermogant produced another typically powerful performance up front. Charlton's steady and focused push towards the finishing line continues...
I'll confess that I had a feeling we'd get 4 points from the three games over the tricky Christmas period, so I'm delighted with 6. Forgive me for the use of the following cliché, but there are no easy games in this division and our Christmas fixture list looked all-ends-up like the proverbial banana skin. How important that injury time winner at Yeovil could prove to be come May. I continue to draw comparisons with our current campaign and that of Norwich from a few years back when they escaped from League One. Numerous late goals crucial to the game's outcome and winning ugly on occasions proved enough for them and it is reassuring that we seem to have found that groove.
There does, however, seem an obsessive focus amongst some Charlton fans towards the points difference separating us from our nearest rivals. It's understandable in part, but whilst to think that we could retain the top spot throughout the remainder of the season is not unrealistic, it would be truly remarkable. In this respect, I think it's too early to worry about such margins in any great detail. It was interesting to hear an interview with Sam Allardyce whilst on my way to the Valley yesterday, when he stated West Ham's league position is unimportant at present and all he's focused on is the 2 points-a-game average that he believes will get them promoted. I would suggest messrs. Powell and Dyer have a similar focus.
Going forward, I do feel that we are in desperate need for Dale Stephens to get fit again to offer us some creativity from the centre of midfield. Bradley Pritchard done a typically fantastic job yesterday, and he's looking every bit like a real Charlton player (you know what I mean by that comment), but his progression must be carefully considered, and in the long term he may well benefit from playing the cameo role this season rather than having to carry the full weight of expectation so early on in his professional career.
So now we can look forward to a small break from League One football and head off to West London and a FA Cup date with Fulham. 7000 Addicks will descend upon Craven Cottage and I will be amongst the numbers. We have nothing to loose and so nothing to fear. For me, my first wish will be for us to avoid any injuries...then a goal to cheer. Beyond that, we can only dream! With Zamora and Johnson linked to moves in the transfer window, it will be interesting to see whether they are used on Saturday (and would therefore be cup-tied going forward).
One things for certain, with such a large and impressive away following, it's certainly going to be a memorable day!