Saturday 9 March 2019

Victory is Ours

Portsmouth may have HMS Victory in the Royal Dockyard, but Charlton secured a convincing 2-1 win over Pompey at The Valley yesterday evening - and in front of the television cameras. Charlton are now eight points ahead of Doncaster.

We played some really fluent football at times, although we did sometimes unnecessarily give away possession. Bielik having to go off injured at half time was a blow. As the game entered its closing phase, the midfield seem to be losing energy and it was all a bit harum scarum in the closing minutes. I don't think that Vetokele contributed all that much and he got out muscled at times.

The excellent Joe Aribo fired the Addicks ahead four minutes before the break, only to see that effort cancelled out by Ronan Curtis on the stroke of half-time. But Taylor was ideally placed to sweep home what turned out to be the winner after 51 minutes as the fifth-placed Addicks closed the gap on fourth-placed Pompey to just two points.

Charlton spurned a host of chances before finally getting on the scoresheet as Josh Cullen was initially denied what looked a certain 20th-minute opener when Vetokele was unfortunately placed to block his goal-bound effort. An unmarked Aribo then headed off target from a corner, Taylor blazed over from long range and Cullen made a poor connection with Vetokele's pass as the Addicks pressed but without reward.

After Craig MacGillivray was forced into a save by another Taylor attempt from outside the box, there was nothing the Pompey keeper could do to prevent the hosts from going in front four minutes before the break. After Cullen picked out Aribo inside the box, the midfielder then took two touches before drilling an angled low shot from eight yards into the bottom corner of the net.

But parity was restored on the stroke of half-time when Curtis rose at the back post to meet a Lee Brown corner and power home an unstoppable header past Dillon Phillips.

Early in the second half Curtis again had the ball in the back of the net, only to be correctly adjudged for offside before Charlton restored their lead in the 51st minute. The officials had a decent game, with the referee giving Pompey some deserved yellow cards.

Substitute Ben Reeves teed up Taylor and the Addicks striker made no mistake with the simplest of close-range finishes. Phillips then produced a decent stop to keep out a dipping volley from Curtis, while Tariqe Fosu (who had come on in place of Williams who had hamstring trouble) came close for Charlton with a dangerous shot that sailed inches over.

The Addicks were almost pegged back again on 83 minutes when Jamal Lowe played the ball across the face of goal but Curtis was just unable to apply a finishing touch. Pompey substitute Brett Pitman then saw a curling effort fly inches over, while Lowe's stoppage-time time strike was blocked as Charlton bravely held on.

This was a day to forget Roland's depredations and enjoy the spectacle on the pitch. I accompanied the drum up the road as the relatively new Charlton song was sung. It all kicked off by the station with the police pushing the crowd back.

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