With nothing on it for either side, yesterday could easily have turned into a damp squib. If the first half was anything to go by, a dull stalemate seemed to be the only fair result, as players toiled in the sun with minimal effect. All that was to change in the first five minutes of the second half, as Charlton patiently started to move the ball from back to front seamlessly.
The first goal by Kermogant was a beauty, and fully deserves consideration as goal of the season. In the same way that in the final game of last season against Harlepool, our favourite Frenchman produced something very special; this season he did it again. A move from deep within the Charlton half, saw Gower float in a peach of a ball that Kermoragant hit on the full volley. The delivery was so exquisite, and the execution so clinically brutal, that Heaton in the City goal did not even have time to react before it had rocketed past him into the back of the net.
If the first was a masterclass in finishing, the second had added teamwork to recommend it. Two right footed players in Solly and Harriett operating on the left flank, combined in one fluid movement to set up a left footed cross from Solly that evaded Pritchard in the centre of the Bristol City six yard box, but not the predatory Kermorgant who rose unchallenged, and powered an unstoppable header past the hapless City keeper.
At 2-0 up, and cruising, it was pehaps inevitable that somebody was going to make a mistake. Step forward messers (sic) Wilson and Morrison, who between them failed with both control and strength of backpass to allow in Reid to chip the stranded Button, and give the scoreline a respectability that the away team quite frankly did not deserve. Keen to make amends, Kermorgant almost made amends with a delicate lob moments later, which bounced back off the crossbar to be met by the head of an onrushing Obika inside the six yard box. At 3-1 it was game over, and the only thing that anyone connected to Charlton wanted to see was Kermorgant get the hat trick his performance so richly deserved.
Twice in the last ten minutes he almost got his wish. He may not have been too pleased at Pritchard selflessly passing to Jackson at the far post to slide in and make it 4-1, but when Charlton were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position with two minutes on the clock, both Jackson and Kermorgant stepped up to take it. You could see by the huge smile on the captain's face that there was no way that big Yann was going to let anybody other than himself take it. It hit the wall, and went out for a corner, which then led to an almighty game of pinball in the City six yard box. Morrison almost got it in, as did Wagstaff, in what was probably his last game for the club. More of that in a bit.
And so, the season ends on a high; a season that in fairness has had far more highs than lows. Chris Powell has learnt a lot, and his players have learnt even more. In much the same way that a band has to deal with producing the difficult second album, the Charlton team has to rest, recuperate, and go again. If there continues to be minimal investment, I believe next season will be far harder than this one has turned out to be. For all the plaudits rightly being heaped on the boss and his players, my concern is that the team that did exactly what it was put together to do, may fall short next term for the lack of maybe three Championship quality first team players.
There are thirteen senior players out of contract this summer. We already know that Sullivan and Mambo have been released. Jungle drums are suggesting that Evina may be a third. Wagstaff has also been cited as stating that he will be gone this summer as well. If you include the three loanees, Gower, Obika, and Rouamba, then Chris Powell will obviously have to at least replace some of those. For the record, the full list of senior Charlton players whose contracts end this summer is:-
Wright-Phillips (On loan to Brentford)
So, a lot of work to be done then! The day ended back in the Rose of Denmark, and after near on a decade of e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook contact, I finally met the legend that is BDL. A great end to a good season. See you all in July for hopefully more of the same :-)