This feels like the final run in at the Grand National. Who will stumble and be eliminated?, and who has the stamina for the final lung bursting run to the finishing line? It would be fair to say that Charlton have been hitting the fences fairly hard over the past few weeks, allowing the two Sheffields to gain ground, in a bid to relegate us to the play offs. Oh, and yes, courtesy of yesterday's result we are now guaranteed a place in that lottery at the very least. Should we be unfortunate enough to end up there, I suspect the trauma of throwing away automatic promotion would be enough to ensure a lousy showing, and another year in the third division, but let's not dwell on that.
Yesterday, Huddersfield effectively fell out of contention for the title with a loss at Carlisle, whilst ourselves and the two Sheffields clean jumped the seventh last fence. Yesterday wasn't a match to remain in the memory for long, but at this stage, it is results that matter, and this was a fairly routine victory against a poor Orient side, who despite being only five points above the relegation zone, never played with any real sense of urgency.
For the first fifteen minutes yesterday, Charlton, however, showed a desire that has not always been there over the past month or so, and were duly rewarded with a quickly taken free kick by Stephens that set up the Wiggins and Wagstaff show, to cross and turn in respectively after only seven minutes. The early goal for Charlton is a crucial thing at present. It calmed the players, and the crowd, and the balance of the first half was largely about Charlton, although Lisbie should probably done better with at least one of his efforts. A disallowed goal for handball by Cort, which curiously didn't merit a booking, and an ignored penalty claim by Wright-Phillips, along with two bookings for Orient players were probably the main things of note, as half time came and went.
The second half at least showed that the referee was at least able to keep putting his hand in his pocket, as another three Orient players went into the book, and Kermorgant played no small part in that. It is quite obvious that opposition managers are drumming into their players, that if you stop Kermorgant, you can stop Charlton. In the first half, I was wondering if I was watching the same incidents involving the big Breton as the man in black. Constantly fouled, I was concerned that it was Kermorgant that was going to end up with a yellow, as his frustration at the treatment being dished out was clear for all to see. There were times when he wasn't just receiving the attentions of two players, but on a couple of occasions it was three. As Powell said after the game, Kermorgant "survived" the attention, but referees really do need to give him a bit more protection, otherwise he will be injured by someone before this campaign draws to a close.
So, six more to go. Personally, promotion isn't enough for me any more. Having been top since September, nothing less than to go up as champions will suffice. We deserve it, and we have almost earned it. As to when?, well my money is on us going up as champions away at Preston. For automatic promotion, I think that will happen at Carlisle. Until then we need to get right behind the team, and stay positive, as the only common factor in Charlton not doing well in the run in to any season is us. The managers have been different, the players have been different, but the one common factor is us. Time to be the twelfth man, and keep the faith!