The game had 0-0 written all over it from the off. Whilst both teams were full of honest endeavour, there was little of any class to seperate the teams. The exceptions were Butland for Birmingham and Fuller for Charlton. If the former might be forgiven for not being fully focused, there was no evidence of it, as he calmly made some fine saves, including one from his own defender, and a point blank hold on the ground from a Wagstaff shot. Fuller too played his part with intelligent passing, and muscular terrorising of the Blues rearguard. Aside from those two though, the fare on offer was mediocre for the most part, and the game itself immediately forgettable.
Whilst it would be fair to say that Charlton edged it on the quality stakes, the game looked dour, and I don't recall the pitch looking this bad since Charlton returned to The Valley. I was fortunate enough to meet one of Paddy Powell's ground keeping mentors some months ago, the redoubtable David "Piggy" Powell, (no relation). For those of you that follow the egg chasers, Piggy probably needs no introduction, but for the benefit of those that don't, Piggy is an England international, from the mid 60's, who now tends what is known irreverently as Piggy's Patch, otherwise more formally called Franklin Gardens, the home of Northampton Saints rugby club.
I had no idea that Piggy was Paddy's guide and help through the process of relaying The Valley pitch for our return to The Valley. Piggy rated Paddy highly; told me a few groundkeeping style anecdotes about him, and referred to him as "a good man" many times throughout our conversation. One thing I am absolutely sure of, is that Paddy is hurting at the state his pitch is in. He more than anybody does not need to be told that it is not good enough. Similarly, his namesake in SE7, rather than NN5 will not need to be told that the nasty habit Charlton has of leaking goals at the death of a game is not good enough either. I don't think there is any doubt that the club has not given, or in fairness been able to give, either man sufficient resources to do anything about their respective issues though, so both men will have to continue fighting through with the resources they have.
Whilst the manner in which Charlton conceded two points is galling, the reality is that although the men from SE7 edged it, there wasn't quite enough quality to make it stick. Unlike the ball, which stuck rather a lot.