Various reports today see Powell warning against complacency, and judging by the slightly downbeat exit from the pitch yesterday, the team were I hope, acutely aware that they were about to incur some verbals from the manager, about letting in two goals in the last five minutes of a game that Charlton had completely dominated. In some senses it is a timely reminder that the prize still remains a long way off, as for most of this one sided encounter, Charlton threatened to embarass the former second division side.
For the first fifteen minutes it had all looked so different. I believed we were likely to be in for a war of attrition against a physically strong Preston side, and the expected 4-5-1 for the visitors duly presented itself at the kickoff. I really didn't see it as being anything other than a dour affair with Preston defending en masse against the marauding Charlton attack and midfield. For the first fifteen, Preston had the edge in terms of stroking the ball around, but even at that stage there was no threat in the final third. Perhaps no surprise, given that their preferred pair up top were both injured.
When the goal came, it was a clever dink of the ball inside by Wright-Phillips that saw Green haring away from the halfway line scattering all before him. The shot when it came was fierce, and the ball was also turning in the air when Arestidou palmed it away, but only as far as the onrushing Jackson, who swept it home without breaking stride. With that, the floodgates opened, and Preston didn't get a look in until five minutes before the end.
Next up was a first goal for the club by Morrison. This one would have pleased Powell possibly more than any other, as it was a first goal of the season from either of the two centre backs, and only the second of the season for the entire back four. Never mind that it was a stab home after a Wright-Phillips shot had been repelled, he was in the right place at the right time, and made no mistake.
Speaking of mistakes, if the Preston goalkeeper had culpability in the first two goals, then he certainly had it for the third, bringing down Kermorgant for a clear penalty. That he escaped without even a yellow card was a bit of a mystery to me, but given the gifts he was presenting us with, Charlton at least would have been happy enough to see him stay on the pitch, but surely a yellow card was merited? Jackson stepped up to the spot once more, and gave him no chance, lashing the ball in to make it three up, and only twenty six minutes played. We didn't have long to wait for number four either, as Wright-Phillips arrived at the back post completely unmarked to meet a corner that should never have reached him.
It couldn't continue like this in the second half, which was a much more subdued affair from a Charlton perspective, but it did give us the goal of the match. A delightful run down the left flank, and a dinked pass over the head of the Preston right back to himself that left the Preston man grasping at thin air, saw Wiggins put in a peach of a cross that Hollands met on the dive with his head, glancing it with some power into the top right hand corner of the net. And that was that, or at least it probably should have been, except that for the last five minutes of the game, Charlton seemed to switch off, allowing Preston the consolation of two goals that they were not entitled to, based on their performance in the match up until that point.
As mentioned earlier, it will give the team something to think about, as it took the edge off what had been up until that point, a superb afternoon of footballing entertainment. Powell said that he was disappointed by it, and so was I, but as he also went on to say, if you can't enjoy a 5-2 at home when top of the league, you probably never will. Hear hear to that, and just think, only twenty nine more games to go!