Ravaged by injuries, unnervingly short of experienced squad options and with the statistics of the game once again heavily against us, Charlton somehow managed their 4th home victory of the season last night against a decent-looking Bolton side who must be hoping their fortunes will improve under the thoroughly dislikable Neil Lennon. I say somehow, but not for the first time this season Charlton have a solid defense to thank for providing a platform to grab vital points.
Henderson, Wilson, Bikey and Ben Haim looked comfortable and in control throughout; Wiggins looked mightily relieved when tricky winger, Liam Feeney, was replaced just after the hour. I have no idea why Lennon replaced one of their greatest attacking threats so early, but thankfully he did.
His form has been indifferent lately, but loosing Buyens for Friday's game at Fulham is a big blow. The midfielder picked up his 5th yellow card of the season and will sit out the televised clash. On occasions, the hard-working Belgian loanee can produce classy and really intelligent passing but is woefully wasteful with others. Even so, Charlton play their best football when he's on top of his game and it's hard to see how Peeters will fill the gap on Friday night. The most obvious option would be to bring Cousins into the middle. It may be a blessing; Cousins is never a wide midfielder and being continually played out of position is affecting his game and peoples opinions of him, which is tough on the lad.
I remain unconvinced regarding Bulot. The Gabonese midfielder looks lightweight and has offered very little going forward and even less defensively. The same might be said of Moussa, although I think I can see something in Franck that could easily leave you open-mouthed as he produces a piece of magic out of nowhere. We continue to wait patiently for both to kick into gear.
And then there's George.
Tududean will forever divide opinion. That much is sure. Little else about the Romanian Striker is as easily predictable. For nearly half an hour Tucudean lay on the Valley grass, arms out wide, appealing for yet another 'foul' that never was. I wondered why he doesn't use his sizable frame to attempt holding up the ball for once. He's clearly not short of ability on the ball. Frustrations inside the Valley grew steadily, and then George goes and produces a magic moment with a left foot strike and Charlton are one-zero to the good out of nothing. Later in the game he set up Johnnie Jackson for what proved a well-taken winner. On the balance of things, he deserved his standing ovation when he was substituted in injury time, but it's a fine balance!
A hard-fought win and 22 points after 13 games. Nobody would have predicted that when Big Bob was appointed. It's not always been pretty to watch, but sometimes it has been and there can be few valid complaints at the moment. Some of the chaps around me last night were discussing the rumour that Big Bob is about to be relocated within 'the network'. Standard Liege are struggling, and some think Peeters is the man to sort them out. I hate speculation. Comments after the game from Big Bob would suggest their are no foundation to the rumours, thankfully. Let's hope Roland feels the same.
I'll be at Craven Cottage on Friday, but won't be going with high expectations given the growing injury list and lack of squad depth and experience. I'm hoping the game of football won't spoil a good few beers with friends.