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Charlton 2012 review: January

We start our 2012 review with what in hindsight proved to be the most pivotal month in Charlton’s 2011/12 season.

Rising to the top of the table as early as the 13th September, Charlton would go on to keep a vice-like grip on the number one spot for the remainder of the season. Tentative steps that had been taken towards promotion, progressed through January into stomping strides as key rivals were dispatched. The gap from 1st to 2nd widened from four points to ten across January, but more importantly the belief that this title charge had real purpose was reaffirmed.

This was not clear at the turn of the Jubilee year. Off the back of a disappointing ten-man defeat to Leyton Orient, two days later Brentford arrived at The Valley. In the play-off mix and impressing in patches under Uwe Rossler, a solid, workmanlike performance was enough to take the points, aided by a Michael Morrison first half header and a late Danny Green strike. The clean sheet gained, was to be repeated for a further three league games in January, and the resolute defence provided the bed-rock of our promotion platform.

Back-to-back games against the Sheffield rivals awaited. But before that, a welcome diversion came in the FA Cup as the Addicks travelled across the capital to Fulham. 7,000 reds made their way to Craven Cottage, and though Charlton run out 4-0 losers, the scoreline was not a fair reflection of the performance. The day however, was more about the fans than the players. Charlton’s biggest away following for over a decade, they sung throughout and perfectly captured the mood as late goals accentuated the scoreline 'The FA Cup, who gives a f**k, we’re Charlton Athletic and we’re going up’.


And so to Sheffield.

Despite Charlton occupying top spot since September, much of the league focus was on the two clubs below. Wednesday and United were seen to be battling it out for not just top spot in Sheffield, but who many believed would be the two automatic promotion places.

A tough trip to Wednesday came first, which sadly a number of supporters failed to make due to diabolical train delays. Despite the ending of Huddersfield 17-year unbeaten run in November, the trip to Hillsborough looked to be the real major test for Powell’s men. Under the stewardship of Gary Megson, this was never going to be a pretty affair, but one of those games where a team play as men and stand up to be counted.

And boy did they.


Wednesday fans came away with no real complaints as a first half Johnnie Jackson free-kick decided the points. Megson though, couldn’t resist complaining, swearing at ex-Owl Michael Morrison, screaming at the Charlton bench, and ironically blaming Charlton of spoiling tactics. Powell after the game showed the difference between the two manager’s approaches. “Contentious issues happen and if things don’t happen for you, you get angry, but you have to do your best to keep your emotions in check. When there is an atmosphere and tensions are tight that is when you should have a touch of class about yourself. But it’s gone. The game is done. One nil to us. Three points. We go home.”

The following Saturday, Charlton completed their Sheffield double as United visited South East London. Off the back of a fantastic run of eleven wins from twelve games, United were dispatched back up the M1 with no points and the feeling they may have blown their best chance of narrowing the gap to the league leaders. 21,000 flocked to The Valley, provided a vibrant and intense atmosphere that had been missing for a few seasons.

Once again, it was a resolute defence and another Jackson free kick which proved the difference between the two sides. United dominated possession in the second half, and when Darryl Russell was sent off for a two-footed lunge, it looked inevitable that United would go on and take advantage of the extra man. Fortunately, in the melee which followed James Beattie decided to start throwing right-hooks, and with one punch on Kermogant, their chance of an advantage hit the canvass as quickly as our French hero.


Chris Powell knew this was a vital victory. “It was an outstanding performance by my boys,” he said. “We grew into it and it took a special moment to win us the game. They were on a terrific run and it was a real test for us. Normally we dominate but we were really tested and had to be resilient.”

Charlton were flying now. The long trip to Exeter was next, and while the Addicks were not at their best, they once again did enough to emerge victorious, thanks to a wayward Danny Green shot that somehow evaded their Polish goalkeeper. As Kevin Nolan described, in football if you can’t be good, at least be lucky. With nine-points arriving from a pair of free-kicks and a mis-hit cross, Charlton had got their fortune at just the right time.

Away from football, and a significant piece of justice was being handed out in South London in January. Nineteen years after the Eltham murder of Stephen Lawrence, two of his killers were convicted, and jailed for life, following a new trial based on new forensic evidence.


Back at The Valley, the earlier spell of good fortune looked to have run out with the midweek visit of Bury. With 65% possession, and 21 attempts on goal, it looked like being a classic daylight robbery at The Valley. But in the 92nd minute, a Dale Stephens rocket lifted the roof off the stands as his equalizer broke Bury’s hearts, kept Charlton unbeaten in the league in January, and once again reinforced the belief that this was going to be our year.

Charlton closed the month with thirteen points out of fifteen, and conceded just one league goal. We were proving a very tough nut to crack.

February's review HERE
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