I've never watched a live basketball game before, but after yesterday, I am not so sure. Fortunately, referee Atwell was as blind to a hand ball committed by Charlton as he was for one committed by Leeds. On another day, with another referee, the Leeds goal wouldn't have counted, and we would have had a penalty awarded against us. Whilst intent and advantage may have been debatable on some of them, there were many where the infringement should have been called by the referee.
Very rarely do I get to see a match where within the first ten minutes I am confident that Charlton will get something from the game, such was the limited fare being offered by Leeds yesterday, I knew it was only a matter of time before we scored. The early exchanges were largely toothless by both sides, but in a game of limited opportunity, Charlton always looked by the far the most likely to get a goal, although it took until early in the second half before it arrived.
As each game goes by Hughes has shown an increase in both fitness and performance, and it is no coincidence that this has also corresponded with a significant stiffening up of the Charlton midfield. Whilst he does not have the ability of Stephens, he has a far more needed commodity, and that is the ability to win it, keep it, and pass it. All done with a minimum of fuss, and a maximum of impact. Warmly applauded by both sets of fans when announced on the pitch, it was Hughes daisycutter that caused the Leeds backline to freeze momentarily as it took a dangerous deflection on its way towards goal. Fortunately Jackson did not freeze, and was able to rifle in a left foot shot from the rebound. There was more than a hint of offside about it, but the goal stood.
Leeds then went 4-3-3 with the introduction of Varney, and Powell countered it by bringing on Kerkar for Fuller to go 4-5-1. It almost proved Charlton's undoing, as the team sank deeper into their own half and allowed Leeds the chance to attack. Whilst Varney has been credited for the resulting Leeds goal, it was most definitely an own goal, although I can't make out from the Football League Show which Charlton player the ball hit.
Realising that perhaps a 4-5-1 was a mistake, Powell immediately reverted back to 4-4-2 with the introduction of Obika for the tiring Harriott, and that substitution won Charlton the match. Solly almost did it himself, not once but twice, but his first went inches wide, and the second brought a fine save from Kenny in the Leeds goal. As telling, was that the second effort was created by Obika beating his man on the right, and pulling the ball back for Solly to shoot. The winner however, was destined to come from the other side of the park. The cross from Wiggins deep into injury time was a beauty, and Obika centre goal only had to give it the merest glance with his head to see it sail beyond Kenny's reach and into the net. It was a deserved win, and all but secures us Championship football for next season.