Charlton beat Leyton Orient 2-0 at The Valley this afternoon to maintain their lead at the top of League 1. Scott Wagstaff celebrated his 22nd birthday with a goal after six minutes (he was voted man of the match in the lounges and his mum and dad had brought a cake for him), but the Addicks lost some momentum after a goal was disallowed. Nevertheless, they played some good football in the first half, keeping the ball on the ground, passing well and retaining possession.
In the second half they started to lose the plot a bit. The midfield seemed to go awol, there were some unforced errors and Orient were able to get some shots in on goal. However, they started to recover and N'Guessan scored the second goal having come on as a substitute.
There were plenty of Orient fans on the train from London Bridge, one wearing a shirt proclaiming 'We own East London.' West Ham fans might have a view about that, but another reaction would be 'you're welcome to it.'
Bradley Wright-Phillips won Charlton an early corner and it was well delivered by Cook. The striker was then brought down in the area, but the referee saw nothing wrong with it and refused to award a penalty, although I have seen softer ones given.
Hapless Orient full back Scott Cuthbert could not track the movement of Wiggins following a free kick and he set up Wagstaff for a tap in after six minutes to make it 1-0.
Lee Cook made a good run, but the ball was eventually taken off him, perhaps he should have laid it off, although he didn't have many options.
Following a Charlton corner, the ball went in the back of the net but the referee ruled it out because of handball by Cort. If that was the case, why wasn't Cort booked?
A dubious Orient free kick led to an Orient corner. Hamer had to make a reaction save with both hands after former Addick Matt Spring sprung into action from six yards out. Hamer then had to make a great save to deal with a stinging shot from distance.
Wiggins won a corner for Charlton, but play was held up while Cuthbert, who had picked up a hamstring problem, was substituted by Syam Ben Youssef who was playing in Tunisia until January. Youssef turned out to be much smarter than carthorse Cuthbert which raises the question why Orient did not start with him.
Scott Wagstaff won Charlton a corner. Stephens contributed some good play. In the two minutes added on, J Smith was shown a yellow card for a foul on Kermorgant.
Half time: Addicks 1, O's 0
An Orient free kick led to an early corner for the visitors. Dean Leacock was booked for a foul on Kermorgant. Orient keeper and former Charlton bench warmer Paul Rachubka pulled off a good double save from first Bradley Wright-Phillips and then Chris Solly. Solly then put in some good defensive work.
Stephens gave away a completely avoidable free kick, but Hamer was able to make the save. Scott Wagstaff was felled and Terrell Forbes received a yellow card. Hollands conceded a corner to Orient.
The fading Wright-Phillips was taken off and replaced by N'Guessan. In the 82nd minute Lee Cook provided a cross which Chris Powell later described as Premier League quality and N'Guessan headed in powerfully to make it 2-0. And that was pretty much that, apart from a yellow card for Alan Reed. A good, solid win.
Coming back on the tube I was talking to a West Ham fan who said his grandfather had supported Charlton. He said it looked as if we were playing each other next season.
The ticket inspectors at Euston asked what the score was which shows how our profile is rising.
Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Ben Hamer for a clean sheet and a save that kept us ahead. He also delivered some good balls forward, for example on to Solly who had another excellent game and must be in the running for Player of the Year. Wiggins was also very good, apart from one occasion when he gave the ball away to Orient. Cort was very solid, even if his defensive headers lacked direction. Morrison was playing more of a traditional centre half role and was not getting forward as much as he often does which is no bad thing. One ball forward was poor. Even the Bloke Behind Me had to admit that Cook had put in a decent shift when he came off and he provided the assist for the second goal. Wagstaff was more prominent in the first half but his performance was generally good. Stephens was anonymous in the second half and I did not think that it was a particularly impressive performance from Hollands. Wright-Phillips drifted out of the game in the second half and it was the right call to substitute him. Kermorgant was the object of many fouls, contributing substantially to the five yellow cards that Orient received. N'Guessan started to trouble Orient from the moment he came on the pitch and the goal was well taken. Green had a cameo, but did his best to get involved.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to referee M Brown. His performance in the first half was one of the worse I have seen at The Valley. He did improve after the break, perhaps the fourth official had a word. He certainly seemed to be relying a lot on his radio, but perhaps he was checking on the Blades score. They must have a special training centre in East Yorkshire for incompetent referees.