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Valley Girls

charlton_sep16Our first win away this season. And yes, your editor was there to witness it…

I think most people today would have forgotten the first 70 minutes of Addicks 1 Addicts 2 rather quickly right now. Which is probably just as well, because that might sour the memory of the final twenty.

This isn’t going to be one of those reports where I go “yes we won, but…”, at least not intentionally, because the vibe afterwards wasn’t like that. Instead, young Mr Poleon is a very popular chappie tonight…

Before I go on, a haiku courtesy of Mr T Jennings:

Put under the cosh.
Poleon, Barnett – sorted.
Old school smash and grab.

I think smash and grab might be quite apt.

Yes, it was shit for the most part. Their goal was inevitable, the defending was once again too dire for words, and we looked so impotent up front that we might as well not have a penis.

That’s pretty much what many if not most games have been like. I wrote down that we seem to have gone backwards from the beginning of the season, that we might be seeing the decline of Fuller and Robbo in front of our eyes, and that we look genuine relegation candidates even at this early stage.

So, what changed? Why is this weekend suddenly a good one after all? To be honest, I don’t entirely know. I can speculate though – Francomb went off, Elliott came on and the rest is now history…

Playing one up front just doesn’t seem to work. I know there’s some tactical masterclass at work here, but in the real world we’re simply not good enough to play it.

Unfortunately, it does make you think whether this is NA going back to the Nil Ardley era (or Neal cowArdley as somebody crueller than me once suggested) that I don’t think credits him as a manager.

And yes, I have to be honest – there were times today that not only did I think our squad was out of our depth but our boss was too.

None of that matters right now though, because like Chesterfield – something clicked when it needed to. Elliott put the shits up their defence, we had a go, and eventually Poleon scored.

And had his name sung until – well, until you probably go to bed tonight. Those there will know what I mean.

You have to wonder how much of our recent play (not just results) is down to the squidgy stuff between the ears. Because all of a sudden, everything seemed to come together.

Not just up front, but even our defence joined in. Whether that’s a false dawn or whether we’ve finally stopped fucking about I don’t know.

We’ll find out in due course. But for that brief period of time, it felt we were on the right path again.

I’d like to be smug and suggest that I knew we would win once we equalised. Actually, I didn’t, but it’s not untrue to say I didn’t think we’d lose that afterwards.

Of course, the declining Barry Fuller ran down the flank, crossed it in for Barnett, and suddenly the weekend got a helluva lot better.

Even the league table doesn’t look nearly so shit to look at right now. Especially when you consider who is one place above us…

I’m sure normal service will resume next week, but it does feel that the Wimbledon we know and occasionally love returned today. The one that busted a bollock to win a game that we should have easily lost.

And to do it in front of 1700+ as well. It’s just a bit of a shame we didn’t get over the 2000 mark, although I’m not sure if it holds that many.

Those there can fill in their own gaps. Me, I still have the Poleon song in my head…

Plus points: We won. Away. Last 20 minutes. Poleon. Elliott. The way it suddenly came together.

Minus points: The first 70 minutes – looked as shit as ever. Their goal.

The referee’s a…: Cunt. Actually, scrub that, because cunts are warm, welcoming and have a useful function in life. Christ, I swear he was going to disallow our goal simply because we trod on the wrong blade of grass or something.

Them: They’ll be wandering around whatever bit of SE London/Kent they live in this evening wondering how the fuck they lost that.

Could have put us out of sight, and in truth should have. As much as we deserved something for clawing it back, they deserved to lose it for the same reason.

They did prove a notion pointed out in a recent SW19 that teams tend to win against us if they bury us with about 20 minutes left – it won’t be the first time this season, and it won’t be the last.

Kudos to them though, they used the WFC era results as part of the overall record against them, though I took a pass on the 1995 League Cup game on the big screen…

Of course, we all know about their off-field issues, which today was wear-black-and-white. And you can’t help but notice their decline even from our SW London vantage point.

Your editor covered a couple of games of theirs last season, most recently the game when they played Middlesbrough. And what struck me back then was how much it felt like WFC circa 2000/01.

Granted, I don’t think they’ll be franchised out like we were, but there’s something badly wrong with that club, and until they somehow prise their current owners out they could be in shit for a while to come yet.

While I don’t share the evangelism of trust ownership like some of our fans do, I can see a partial takeover by a supporters group working in their case, if only because it will stabilise them. Though that’s some way down the line, and there’ll be a lot more grief in SE7 for a while.

Actually, we seem to have a fair bit in common with them, even down to sharing Selhurst. I did notice the banner “Eight Grounds, One Home”, which could easily be tailored for us.

Shame they ruined it all by having a drum…

Point to ponder: So have moves been made with the goalkeeping situation? The return of Shea didn’t go un-noticed, although what that’s going to do to the already fragile Clarke is anyone’s guess.

Whether you still think our shotstopper is the main issue or not, we can assume Shea will be starting now. At least until he makes his first clanger, anyway.

Maybe this is just simple squad rotation? NA did suggest before Walsall that neither goalie would be automatic first choice, and we might be seeing that put into action.

Shea did make a couple of good saves, and it did seem that the other defenders were more on the same wavelength with him. I don’t think he’s perfect, and “more on the same wavelength” is relatively speaking, but some people got what they wanted today and it might have paid off…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) It’s still surreal to think that 14 years ago, we were beating Reading Town. Now, we’re beating Charlton in League One. Chew on that for a couple of moments. 2) On the same lines, isn’t it surreal that we’re playing at the Valley? It makes those trips to the likes of Bashley in ye olden days worth it after all. 3) Smoke bombs. By twats, for twats.

Point to ponder: What is clear is that whatever happens, we’ll need to open Mike Richardson’s wallet just a little bit more come January.

The lack of a loan window has caught teams out, and that includes us. We somehow need to keep our head above water until the day after we play Brizzle Rovers, because regardless of how today turned out – we still look L2 at the back.

Seriously, why do we seem to start off so badly in games this season? There’s only so many times you can come from behind, and eventually it catches up with you.

Is it talent of the opposition? They’re a bit sharper, but even Charlton today weren’t streets ahead of us. Are we simply too lethargic? Once again, we looked half a yard off physically – and double that mentally – until it was almost too late.

We can be but thankful Poleon has become the go-to striker (although it’s good that Barnett has finally found the scoresheet), because he looks like he belongs in League One.

Even so, you can still make an ordinary team into a unit and still remain a third-tier outfit. If we could play like we did from minute 70 for most of the game, we’ll be comfortably mid table.

And that’s what I think gets people right now – we’re still too disjointed, we still lack an obvious character for too long in the game, and it feels like we assume we’re going to be losing before we put on a late spurt.

Today, it did eventually click, and it was great to watch. I just hope that for the next few months, we finally realise that as far as our personnel goes, attack really is the best form of defence…

So, was it worth it? Tonight, south London belongs to us.

In a nutshell: Dom Poleon, Dom Poleon, Dom Poleon…