It is said that some things are worth waiting for. On Saturday at St Andrews, the home of Birmingham City, the Addicks with the help of the skipper Johnnie Jackson pulled off a smash and grab performance that was worth the long wait that many of us thought would never happen. The skipper that many of us, including myself, thought might never be part of the Addicks team again, came up trumps in the sixty first minute with a powerful header delivered from an inch perfect ball into the box from the youngster Lookman.
The game. The Addicks had to endure a lot of pressure from the five man middle that the blues adopted to counter balance the diamond shape the Addicks successfully used the last time out against Sheffield Wednesday. This formation once again served them well in this game and there was little doubt that the change in tactics has brought renewed life into the Addicks team as a whole.
Johnnie Jackson certainly showed his quality as a skipper. Not for the first time this season he dug in and came up with a goal that showed his leader qualities. This goal was the 50th for the Addicks in a carrier that involves him playing 209 games for Charlton. I`m pleased for him. But if we are really honest with ourselves, not many of us gave the Addicks too much hope against the Blues on their own patch. Sitting comfortably in the division in six place with twenty eight points, the odds on us getting something out of this game were stacking up.
Yet football is an unpredictable game. As I have said this all along. Have the right attitude, self-belief and most important of all a game plan and then anything is possible. We are not out of the woods yet, but it is looking much better with the results in place than it did a few weeks ago. I also feel bringing too many youngsters into the first team, although unavoidable because of injuries and suspensions, might have a detrimental effect on them having to step up with a par performance of their senior players. Although in this particular instance they proved to have been invaluable.
Ademola Lookman was given a full start. The seventeen year old and Holmes-Dennis` debut was a tough test for both youngsters, giving the Blues pace out wide and the resolute figure of Michael Morrison leading the hosts` back line. Jordan Cousin, in for the suspended Ba, provided some cause for optimism for all those who travelled to St Andrews. Gary Rowett`s side possesses a vast amount of quality going forward as they issued an early warning. The Addicks continued to look a little fragile defensively when faced with the pace of Demaral Grey and some promising signs were emerging going forwards. Lookman`s confidence was growing. Showing his speed he constantly attempted to beat his opponents with clever footwork.
The Blues, with all their high rated players, were frustrated by Fox who himself has come under some criticism of late. He cleared the ball and his effort was superbly kept in by Simon Makienok. His composure deserved better. His subsequent run and through ball provided a wonderful opening for Lookman. But the inexperience of the youngster showed. He had more time than he realised, and his effort could only hit the side netting. Holmes-Dennis went one better. His effort on goal was preceded by a superb shimmy to beat the men in blue on the right, followed by a determined run towards the box. On this occasion the keeper did well in the Blues goal and the danger was averted.
The Addicks saw plenty of the ball. It was therefore vital that the Addicks maintained a degree of composure and control. Having much of the play, the Addicks were almost caught out. Stephen Gleeson`s superbly struck first-time effort so close to nestling into the top corner had every away supporter holding their breaths, but thankfully nothing came of it. Birmingham were increasing in confidence. The Addicks at this stage had become static, unable to deal with the Blues` pressure. Pressure is all very well if it leads to a goal. Charlton showed how it was done. The set-piece and exchanges of passes and delivery from Holmes-Dennis raised hope from the moment it left his boot. The skipper cleanly converted the headed ball past the diving Blue`s keeper. The skipper doing his customary arms aloft as he peeled away, was echoed by all who had travelled away in celebrations of joy. The danger of complacency after just scoring could creep in and the Addicks had to be alert for the last thirty minutes of the game.
However, it was Birmingham who had to find an equaliser. The Blues with all the dominance looked shell-struck. It appears they are just as vulnerable as we have been in many of our games. As time ran out, they resorted to a long ball where before they calmly played the ball out misdirected and unthreatened. We all know one goal is never enough. The Addicks were guilty of wasting opportunities and the home supporters increasingly frustrated when their team took too long in possession.
There was never any doubt in the minds of the travelling fans that this game might end up all square after the skipper had given the Addicks the lead. Although the blues should kick themselves for some woeful finishing. Charlton however did not make it easy for themselves. In extra time panic was evident but for a crucial intervention by Henderson from a tame effort from a Gleeson strike. Riding our luck. There was yet another last gasp strike from Viv Solomon-Otabor, but his effort curled agonisingly wide of the post.
There seems to be a parallel feel on what is happening to the Addicks team. Last time we were in this predicament, admittedly much later in the season, we dug out some crucial results. Riga and Fraeye were in charge and did amazingly well. Should we now assume the post will become permanent? I have my doubts, but then I`m not the one who has to make the decision.
Ps. May I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. I`m having a break in sunny South Africa until the January 1st 2016. Good Luck Addicks!