Charlton rarely make it easy for their fans, but their victory over Doncaster Rovers at The Valley tonight was all the sweeter for being hard won. My intuition was that it would go to penalties which is why I booked a hotel in Greenwich.
I don't think we were at our best tonight. Aribo and Taylor were below par. But when a missed penalty from Donny settled matters, there was a massive pitch invasion. Such scenes of joy have been missing from The Valley for many years.
After a thundering start a headed goal from Bielik in the second minute seemed to put the Addicks on course for victory. A second goal would have settled matters, Donny managed to equalise on the night out of nowhere in the 11th minute. A smart flick from Herbie Kane allowed Rowe to score with what was admittedly a good shot which gave Phillips little chance. The defence seemed to have disappeared. A brilliant low save from Dillon Phillips stopped ex Millwall player Marquis from making it 2-1 on the night shortly afterwards. But Donny's confidence had been given a boost.
The second half became increasingly fractious and had few chances of note, although Josh Parker prodded narrowly wide from a ball in from Taylor, before Butler rose high at the back post to head in Ali Crawford's corner late on and send the match into extra time. We seemed to surrender possession too easily.
Marquis put the visitors ahead on 100 minutes with his 26th goal of the campaign but the Addicks hit back immediately through Pratley to send the game to penalties. The players of both sides were clearly tiring by now.
The police came on the pitch at the end of the game to talk to the referee and apparently the penalties were taken at the Covered End for safety reasons.
Chris Solly, who had come on as a substitute, was the unlikely first penalty taker (although he is club captain) but his shot was a crisp one. Cullen made no mistake with the second and Taylor settled any fears that he might miss. Naby Sarr missed the chance to win it in the shootout after Dillon Phillips had saved from the hapless Marquis, but Rowe blazed wide to send the Addicks to Wembley.
One little memory: a father and son have been sitting in front of me for about twelve years since the lad was about seven. At the Rochdale game he brought his girl friend, Last night father and son took a smiling selfie together.
I travelled back to Greenwich in the company of celebrating French supporters. Slightly ironic as France 24 wanted me for a discussion at 5 pm and were not best pleased when I said no, commenting sarcastically 'Football must come first.'
Congratulations to Patrick Bauer on the birth of his daughter in the afternoon and then going to The Valley to steer us to Wembley.
Richard Cawley's match report is here: Wembley bound
This Evening Standard article which includes quotes from Lee Bowyer is worth a read: All in place for a Premier League return