I enjoyed a really good night at the Valley on Tuesday, but the game did have a pre-season feel about. Yesterday was different. League football was back at the Valley, and with it came that gut-wrenching nervous tension and hopeful anticipation that will hang around now until next May.
A few pre-match beers calmed the nerves a little, but nothing helps better than an early Charlton goal. I'm not a fan of Jordan Cousins playing on the left of midfield, but the youngster gave Charlton a perfect start with a curling strike after just 8 minutes that took everyone by surprise.
Wiggins was tormented by Callum McManaman for Wigan's equaliser. At the time I felt Charlton's left-back should have done better, but having seen the goal again, you have to credit the Wigan man rather than blame bad defending. It was a great goal from a tight angle. Even so, Wiggins didn't have a great game. Perhaps the pressure of Fox breathing down his neck isn't helping. Competition for places in a Charlton squad? Another good sign.
As was the case on Tuesday, Bikey Amougou was impressive at the back, whilst in the midfield, the energetic Buyens was always available for a pass and rarely wasteful. I doubt anyone missed Poyet yesterday.
Wigan had plenty of spells of good possession, but lacked a cutting edge. Charlton stuck to their game plan.
When Igor Vetokele went through one on one late in the game, only to be superbly denied by Carson, you wondered if we'd have to settle for a point, but uncharacteristically Charlton continued to push for a winner. Big Bob's substitutions were positive and came with enough time to make an impact.
It seemed like every goal Charlton conceded last season was a cruel deflection and that unwelcome trend continued last week at Brentford, so it was very pleasing that our winner came in rather fortuitous circumstances. It's about time we had a bit of luck in front of goal. Franck Moussa's shot, deep in stoppage time, looked to be well blocked by a Wigan defender, only to loop up and over Carson into the goal. It seemed to take an age to hit the back of the net, but when it did the Valley erupted. As much as I enjoy the close season without worrying about football results, it's when moments like that happen that I am reminded of why I could never give up going to the football.
Following Charlton's winner Big Bob proceeded to upset Wigan's manager, Uwe Rosler, by over-celebrating the goal. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest thing to run towards the visitors bench with your fists clenched punching the air, but I think it's fair to say Peeters is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and I'm sure he was simply lost in the moment. We all were! I sat behind the Charlton bench on Tuesday and I was struck at how imposing a figure Big Bob was and how enthusiastic he was for Charlton to play a passing game.
Even in these early stages of the season there seems a very different Charlton personality out on that pitch; one that was brave enough to go for a winner when it may have been tempting to take the draw.
Another tough game awaits on Tuesday night against Derby County. I'd settle for a point right now, but then I would have done the same yesterday. 5 points from the first 3 games would represent a decent start, but something tells me Big Bob wants more...