I can't be more proud of my young son. There he is at an impressionable age with all his mates supporting glamorous Premiership sides and yet he seems to have accepted life as an Addick. I've never once forced it on him, I honestly haven't, but I guess he's absorbed from me (and his nan) over time whatever it takes to want to wear his Charlton colours by choice and to be proud of doing so. It was his 7th birthday yesterday and he could have spent the whole day being fussed over by his mum, grandparents and friends, but instead he wanted to come to the Valley with me. I've been coming to the Valley long enough to know how hopeful anticipation can kick you so hard in the bollocks you won't ever forget the agony, but he has all that to come. Midway through the second half, just after McCann had rattled Charlton's bar with a bullet header, he turned to me and said he didn't want any goals if it may mean Charlton went on to loose. A 7 year old boy putting his team first, happy with a goalless game, taking a point.
I was excited about watching Jordan Stewart and in the first half in particular I thought he linked up well enough with Wiggins, but overall I was left wondering what more he offered down the left above young Harriott. The latter not even afforded a place on the bench. On too many occasions Stewart looked happy enough to feed Wiggins on the overlap rather than use him as a dummy and try a quick cross himself or to take on the defender. One bright moment from Stewart, though, saw a dangerous cross fizz into the penalty area, teeing up Pritchard for a clear shot on goal midway through the first half. The Valley faithful rose from their seats in anticipation, but Pritchard lifted the ball up and over the bar. I slumped back in my seat, head in hands, wishing that the chance had fallen to a Kermorgant or a Jackson. My boy looked as disappointed as I was.
Our striking options took a massive blow when around half an hour in our Breton warrior finally admitted he needed to go off after taking an early knock on his troublesome ankle.
In the second half, only some truly woeful forward play from Wigan and some good fortune for Charlton stopped the visitors leaving with all 3 points. Charlton had a few half chances, one of which came about after a splendid lung-busting run down the right from Wilson, but even Pritchard could not get on the end of his tantalizing cross. Not at any stage of this game did it feel like it would finish up zero-zero, but it did.
In the end, it was another clean sheet which we should all be pleased about, but another game where the lack of quality and ideas in the final third cost us a much-needed victory. I though Stephens done well enough, particularly defensively, to be my MOM.
On the back of a sizable 'football for a fiver' promotional campaign by the club, some 23,600 people spread out into areas of the Valley that had not seen human beings since Johnny lifted the league One trophy back in May 2012. Encouragingly, outside the ground pre-match it was like those halcyon Premiership days, with cars jostling for parking spots, an air of anticipation from the thronging crowd and long queues at the burger vans, programme sellers and turnstiles. Inside the Valley, however, the additional faces done little to improve the atmosphere and irritated the regulars with their inability to find their seats without having to walk the full length of the row a couple of times, dropping tomato sauce from their burgers as they passed by.
Oh, I know...I'm being hard on those that have so much more in their lives than to follow Charlton more regularly. This result was not what they were hoping for from their once a season trip to the Valley. Being a season ticket holder for more years than I can even recall I doubt I've ever benefited from promotional days like this.
The most important thing for me is my boy enjoyed his day out. One day I'm hoping he'll be a regular at the Valley. Understanding that you don't always get what you want out of a game of football is an important step.