August. A time of early season heat, constant drinks breaks and pristine pitches. Fans are in shorts, the managers lose their jackets and there’s not an under armour in sight. The 25th August 2012, the second Saturday of the football season, was a little different. Heavy rain and lightning storms all over the country caused the Premier League game between Sunderland and Reading to be postponed and Wycombe V Bristol Rovers in League 2 to be abandoned.
The weather didn’t evade SE7 with a few violent lightning forks and persistent heavy rain taking its tole on the pitch, leaving the last half an hour or so a very scrappy affair with the ball not travelling as well as it should. But all the same, The Addicks kept their unbeaten record thanks to a 0-0 draw with Hull, a game they so easily could have won after an incorrect offside call, but so easily could have lost if it were not for the heroics of keeper Ben Hamer.
It was a game of very few clear cut chances for both teams, Hamer saved easily from Proschwitz early on whilst Pritchard saw a volley blocked after being teed up by Tuesday’s hero Yann Kermorgant. Hull’s biggest threat came through former Addicks target Sone Aluko, who kept the Charlton defence on their toes and forced Hamer into a number of quality saves. It looked the Yorkshire side would take the lead when Cory Evans fed through the Nigerian international, only for Hamer to pull off one of many impressive one-on-one saves. This seemed to spur Charlton on and for the remainder of the half they looked more likely to score. Bradley Wright Phillips saw a long range deflected effort saved by Ben Amos in the Hull goal, whilst a spell of corners saw Pritchard, Jackson and Cort on two occasions, one hitting the post, all coming close.
The teams went in at half time level, and during the interval, the heavens opened. As the fans in the lower tiers ran to the back of the stands to take cover, the players had to deal with the stormy conditions and the half started slowly as the ball began to hold up. After 10 minutes of the half though, The Addicks thought they had scored. Bradley Wright-Phillips got away from Faye and Chester in the Hull defence and broke free on goal after a ball over the top from Danny Hollands deflected off a Hull head. Wright-Phillips saw his shot saved by Amos but Kermorgant tapped in the rebound only for the assistant referee to raise his flag for Wright-Phillips. The replays clearly showed Wright-Phillips was onside, angering manager Chris Powell who felt that decision cost The Addicks a deserved three points. It was The Addicks though who rode their luck for the remainder of the game, with Hull coming close on a number of occasions. Aluko broke free into the box a number of times, seeing a shot blocked by Cort and Hamer adding to his one-on-one save collection. It wasn’t until the last minute that Hamer pulled of a miraculous double save, first from a one-on-one Aluko again and then reacting to Jay Simpson, pouncing on his feet and doing enough to send the ball around the post. There was still time for one more save from the Charlton keeper from Simpson in injury time, cementing his man of the match award.
Although the display didn’t match the previous two games, Charlton once again showed they are no mugs and can certainly play in this league, which wasn’t helped by the weather. Powell has labelled Hamer as his best player so far, and few can argue with that after his display to effectively secure the point. Five points from three games is more than anyone could have asked for from a tough, tough start to life in the Championship.