Chris Powell's Flat Cap

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Contracts, Departures and Rumours; Two Weeks in the (Summer) Life of Charlton Athletic

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a stylish chap named Chris Powell did battle with a fleet from the West Country in one of the final conflicts of the Great Championship War. The stylish chap, flat-capped for the special occasion, led his Haddock Eating Redmen to a crushing victory with a Frenchman called Yann his chief man on the battle front. They certainly weren’t the biggest army, the Foxes from the Midlands, those who Wandered around Lancashire and the Identity Confused Welshmen all had resources far greater that Powell’s tiny force, but they’d given the 10 month long war an astonishing go. They managed to pull off some shock victories, crippling the Foxes regiment on two occasions and defeating the Wanderers and the Welshman after all appeared lost. It was a war effort that the Haddock eaters could be incredibly proud of. Morale was high and optimism was great that a summer recruitment programme, along with the inclusion of some promising small ones, could see a future war be won outright.

That was two weeks ago. Charlton Athletic had just finished 9th in the Championship after three years in exile. Gone were the days of losing at home to Walsall on a cold December Sunday, replaced by victories over the likes of Leicester City, Cardiff City and Bolton Wanderers. As someone once sung, ‘the only way is (was) up’. However, as is the case for this time of year, the entertainment of watching 22 men kick a spherical object around a patch of grass is replaced by never ending excitement of rumour. Unfortunately at Charlton Athletic, rumour is never a good thing. Whilst there have been several positives to come out of the club in the days since the curtain fell on the 2012/13 season, the usual panic has arisen over finances, player sales and even that stylish chap with the flat cap jumping ship. That exciting future has gone from being in touching distance to slipping away out of reach but it’s certainly not all doom and gloom as some will have you believe. It’s always exciting in SE7.

Player Contracts

First of all, let’s deal in facts. Facts give your writer solace when those doom-mongers successfully convince themselves and anyone that cares to listen that ‘we’re doomed’. There have been seven players released by the club; five of which I fully agree with, one of which I begrudgingly agree with, and the other I’m rather disappointed with. John Sullivan, who has now joined Portsmouth, and Yado Mambo were unlikely to challenge for first team places and releasing them gives them the chance to play regularly first team football. Salim Kerkar, whilst playing an important role in the first half of the season including a fantastic performance against Cardiff in the 5-4 victory, was at best a bit part player and only rarely put in pleasing displays. I would hope we could find a left winger of a higher standard to challenge Callum Harriott. Matt Taylor will be remembered as a central figure in 2011/12 promotion team and he rarely put in a foot wrong when called upon in the campaign just gone, but Championship football seemed a step to far for the centre back. I hope he returns to League One and guides another team to promotion. No one put in more effort than Scott Wagstaff, but unfortunately the time was right for one of the few players you could label as ‘Charlton through and through’ to leave the club. Out of all the released players, it is he who I hope goes on to achieve great things and maybe finds himself in a position to return to the Valley in a red shirt one day.

The decision to release Ricardo Fuller is the one I begrudgingly agree with. He had his critics, and in certain games he wasn’t up to scratch, but he provided that spark of genius that hardly any other player in last season’s squad to provide. On his day, he still had that Premier League quality that made him a cult hero at Stoke City, whilst his partnership with Yann Kermorgant towards the end of the season didn’t receive the praise it deserved. Fuller’s ability to hold the ball up consistently and occupy a position up top gave Kermorgant a free role, which the Frenchman exploited dangerously. However, with the Jamaican rumoured to be earning in excess of £10,000 per week and a body likely to break down at any moment, I see it as a decision that had to be made given the financial constraints the club have to live under. If there was an option for a risk free pay-as-you-play deal then it would have been stupid not to keep him at the club, but of course football and footballer’s contracts aren’t that simple.

The one that has left me confused and, if I’m honest, rather angry is the decision to release Danny Haynes. Yes, in the words of Andy Hughes, the pacey forward possesses a pair of ‘chocolate hamstrings’, but according to the reliable source of Rich Cawley at the South London Press, a new deal was in place for Haynes, suggesting something has changed. It may have been as simple as Powell deciding his injury record wasn’t worth the risk for the flashes of brilliance Haynes brought, or a replacement may have been identified, but the cynic in me points towards further budget constraints being forced upon Powell. If that is the case, the fact finance may be holding us back is highly frustrating, not just in the case of releasing Haynes but in general. Cynicism isn’t my thing so I’ll leave that to the pessimists, but I do hope investment comes in so we have the opportunity to progress further.

In more positive news, three players have signed new contracts with the club. Dorian Dervite, who impressed towards the end of the season, signs a new one year deal, as does Leon Cort. I’m very happy to see Dervite stay put for at least another season, but I thought it may have been time for Cort to move on with age not on his side. However, he impressed in the first half of the season before injury, an incredible display against Millwall alongside Dervite comes to mind, and he may prove a solid 3rd or 4th choice option. The most exciting piece of news is that exciting youngster Callum Harriott has extended his contract until 2016. His inclusion in the team in the final few months of the season was a crucial factor for the upturn in form, showing a potent threat down the flank that had been missing for a considerable amount of time, and at just 19, he has the potential to be a genuinely outstanding player. The three year deal means, in a worst case scenario, we’re in a position to make a few million from him if we need to sell, or we have a very talented footballer for the next three seasons.

That leaves the contracts of Cedric Evina, Andy Hughes and Bradley Wright-Phillips to attend to. It’s been widely reported that Evina has been offered a new deal, whilst a decision on Wright-Phillips won’t be made until after Brentford’s play-off final. I fully expect Wright-Phillips to leave, Championship football is, for whatever reason, not his level, but he’ll always be a hero for scoring the goals and ‘the goal’ to get us promoted back to the Championship. There’s a grey area around Evina, does he want first team football or is he willing to play second fiddle to Rhoys Wiggins? I rate Evina very highly, but if he wants to move on to find regular football, I won’t hold any grudges. Finally, I can only guess that Hughes will be offered a player/coach role, which will be ideal for all parties. He’ll be a valuable asset to call upon when needed and he’ll have the chance to develop a career when retirement calls.

Potential Ins and Outs

It’s only a matter of time before Sky Sports News bring out their gadgets and tell everyone there’s a considerable amount of microseconds left until the transfer window closers, and Charlton have already been linked to a number of players, whilst a few players are seemingly heading for the exit door.

The Addicks look set to swoop for Jonathan Obika and Mark Gower, two loanees who took a while to find their feet during their loans spells at the club but impressed in the final few weeks of the season. I would welcome both players: Gower’s experience could prove vital and his eye for a pass doesn’t seem to have been lost as showcased in the 4-1 win over Bristol City whilst Obika, if not another forward, is a must with only one senior striker in the shape of Kermorgant currently at the club. There have also been reports liking Charlton with a £250,000 move for Crawley defender Mark Connolly, who is highly regarded and being tracked by a number of Championship club if the reports are to be believed.

That £250,000, or any other transfer fee for that matter, is likely to be covered by the potential sale of three players reported as being made available for transfer. After turning down a £2.5M offer from Aston Villa in the summer for Dale Stephens, he is now up for grabs again alongside Danny Green and Danny Hollands. With hindsight, it now appears a mistake to have turned down such a large sum for Stephens, but I rate him highly and he impressed throughout the season, unfortunately having a number of shocking displays that have seen him split the Charlton fan base. Hollands was unimpressive before his loan move at the start of the season and didn’t look like he had taken to Championship football well with his best game of the season coming in the penultimate game in a surprise appearance at Middlesbrough, however, it may be right to cash in on him with other midfield options. Finally, as I’m sure regular readers of my blog are aware, I don’t rate Green too highly. Despite having all the attributes to make a decent winger, they never seem to be displayed and I can count his decent performances this season on one hand. Hollands and Green will raise a few £100,000 each whilst Stephens may bring in a bit more, but I would hope we could find a way to keep the former Oldham midfielder. However, if it’s a case of selling Stephens to keep the likes of Solly and Hamer, then it must be done.

The Manager

Just as I had calmed myself down after the Danny Haynes story was released, a Wolverhampton journalist posted a Tweet claiming Chris Powell was in the frame for the Wolves job. Cue panic attack. The man has made our club great again. He has taken a club sinking deeper and deeper and revolutionised it. A title in his first full season with 101 points and an incredible 9th place finish with one of, if not the smallest budget in the Championship speaks volumes about Powell without going into the finer details of his character and such like. Losing Powell is not an option, especially not to a crisis club in League One. Thankfully it appears as if it is Wolves dreaming big and Charlton will laugh off the approach; I can’t believe Powell would want to move anyway. He promised us he’d see us all next season on the final day, I’m sure he’ll stick to that promise.

All this in just two weeks; we’ve got a long summer on our hands. Entering my 10th season as a Charlton fan, I’ve grown used to this by now. But I still remain positive for next season if we can keep Powell and the bulk of the current squad. I said on the final day if we started the season with the team that started against Bristol City, replacing Hamer for Button, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. Hopefully the finance issues are resolved one way or another but in the meantime, I’m going to go back to savouring that felling of positivity we all enjoyed two weeks ago about Charlton Athletic Football.

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Player of the Year: the Candidates

With the season over and the player of the year awards dinner just a few hours away, it seems right to take a look at the candidates in with a chance of being crowned this season’s stand out performer. Whilst the number of possibly selections is smaller than last season, the whole team were in with a shout, it’s still a tough call to make from the five nominees below.

Ben Hamer

He has his critics, but more points have been won than lost at the fingertips of the flamboyant stopper with the handful of dubious displays cancelled out and then some my some match saving, and winning, performances. Wins over Leicester City both home and away had a lot to do with Hamer’s handy work whilst his displays in the 2-1 win against Ipswich at Portman Road and the 1-1 draw at home to Derby proved vital. A double save from Sone Aluko against Hull at the Valley and his final minute stop from Vincente in the trip to Brighton, both times keeping the score at 0-0, stand out as the two most impressive saves of the season. Both times you found yourself with your head in your hands expecting the net to ripple only for the gloved hands of Hamer to pull off the most unlikely of interventions. Still relatively young in keeper terms, 24, the self –proclaimed lover of cider still has plenty of time to ripen from the slightly discoloured nature of his ability into the glowing finished article. No, you’re right, that fruit metaphor doesn’t work, but Ben’s a very good keeper who’s only going to get better.

Hamer's flamboyant nature; loved by some, hated by others

Hamer’s flamboyant nature; loved by some, hated by others

Chris Solly

Last season’s player of the year has yet again been in sensational form from the first minute until the last. If there were any doubts about the youngster’s ability to make the step up from League One, they were quickly forgotten about as Darren Ambrose and Ben Marshall were kept under wraps in consecutive games. He’s rarely put a foot wrong since. It’s difficult to pick any stand out moments from the most consistent of consistent performers but three away displays deserve special mention. Wilfried Zaha found life so tough against him at Selhurst that the ‘wonderkid’ was forced to switch to the right, leaving Solly with Yannick Bolasie, who was quickly subbed off. Coming up against the tricky Kazenga Lualua at Brighton’s Amex, Solly took some time to adjust, put soon had him under control and played a large part in the Addicks keeping the Seagulls from scoring. Cardiff might have sealed promotion with a win at the Cardiff City Stadium, but Solly wasn’t going to allow that, preventing Bellamy time and time again and stopping an almost certain goal with a last ditch tackle when Kim was breaking. With seven assists, including an absolutely fantastic cross for Yann Kermorgant to head home against Birmingham at the Valley, and a goal, a rocket of a shot away at Blackpool that any striker would have been proud of, the diminutive full back is becoming more of a threat when going forward down the right, linking up successfully with Bradley Pritchard throughout the season. He deserves to play in the Premier League; hopefully that’s with Charlton.

The Championship's best player and some bloke from Palace

The Championship’s best player and some bloke from Palace

Johnnie Jackson

On three separate occasions this season, it looked like the Addicks were about to be draw into the relegation battle. 2-0 down to Cardiff inside 20 minutes, after a run of results lacking a win and following on from a 4-1 thumping at home to Middlesbrough, 1-0 and then 3-2 down to Watford on New Year’s Day on the back of a poor set of December results and 2-0 down to Bolton at the Valley, the fixture after the humiliating 2-0 defeat to Millwall. All three, in their individual moments of peril, gave the Charlton faithful enough reasons to feel seriously concerned about their Championship survival. One man on each occasion put a stop to such nonsense: The lionhearted skipper. His two goals against Cardiff brought the sides level before half time, setting the Addicks up to complete the incredible comeback just after the break, his determined display in midfield carved out many openings for his team mates at Watford before a heroic header gave Charlton a valuable three points, whilst his goal midway through the first half gave the home side the footing they needed to comeback and secure a 3-2 victory over Bolton. He truly is the man to call upon in a crisis. It’s not, however, as if problem solver is the only job title Jackson can boast. After a sluggish start to life in the Championship, Powell’s decision to move him to the centre midfield position that Jackson has filled for most of his career prior to wearing a red shirt proved a stroke of genius. The inspirational leader has grown as the season has progressed and a foot has rarely been put wrong since the turn of the year. His performances have also brought goals, 12 of them to leave him as this season’s top scorer. I wouldn’t dream of anyone else leading this group of players on the pitch. There is no one better than Johnnie Jackson.

Jackson's knee slide celebration at Vicarage Road is one of the most iconic images from this season

Jackson’s knee slide celebration at Vicarage Road is one of the most iconic images from this season

 

Bradley Pritchard

‘Have you seen the news?! We’ve signed Dale Stephens, Danny Hollands and Mikel Alonso! Oh and Bradley Pritchard. Yeah, me neither.’ That was the basic structure of any conversation in regards to Charlton’s early summer signings in 2011. The recruitment of two players who stood out in the previous season in League One, Stephens and Hollands, along with the brother of Xabi Alonso happened in the space of a few weeks and all excited Charlton fans for the season ahead. Bradley Pritchard, however, did not. The non-league nobody and former work experience boy with the sports science department at Sparrows Lane was seen as a complete punt. He might get the odd game, but the more likely scenario was he’ll be released and forgotten about very quickly; a disappearing act previously perfected by Stuart Fleetwood and Dean Sinclair. In fact, quite the opposite has happened. Whilst Alonso failed to make a single league appearance, Hollands has been an isolated figure this season and even Stephens has found maintaining his place in the side a challenge in the final few months of the season. Pritchard as been an almost ever present. What some might argue he lacks in technical ability he more than makes up for with his hard work and determination; no cause is a lost one to the Zimbabwean. For that alone he’s a valuable asset to the team, but with eleven assists and some fantastic performances throughout the season, Pritchard has proved himself to be more than suited to Championship football. His critics have been quit in recent weeks, only furthering my suggestions that some Charlton fans confused poor finishing with poor player. With two goals in less than a month and some impressive performances during that time, it’s a shame that the season is ending for Charlton’s most improved player under Powell.

6-0, even Pritchard scored

6-0, even Pritchard scored

Yann Kermorgant 

No superlative can do justice to the Frenchman’s powers. The talismanic figure has once again led from the front with some cavalier displays to win points for the Addicks. Still winning headers for fun, still magnetically controlling the ball at his feet and notching 10 goals, in addition to 9 assists, the hero worship he receives is more than justified. Just ask Leicester City fans, who must be sick of the sight of their former player and infamous penalty misser after two incredible performances and two well taken goals against the Foxes. A forum thread full of Leicester fans begrudgingly praising Kermorgant is as big an indication as any that he’s a very special player. Some of his most extraordinary performances have come with the Frenchman dropping deeper into midfield and cutting out wide to the run the channels. Such as the ability of Kermorgant’s footwork and link up play, those two roles are almost as natural as centre forward. Often coming back to defend from corners and even banging in a penalty against Bolton at the Valley, he really is the complete player. His cult hero status was only strengthened on the final day of the season as once again the big Frenchman lit it up with two goals, one of them an incredible volley, in a fantastic performance against Bristol City. Through injury and suspension, Kermorgant has had to sit out his fair share of games, and you have to question whether his presence would have seen that short gap between the Addicks and the play-offs eaten up. It wasn’t to be, but Kermorgant will have a lot to say in an assault up the table next season.

Even Leicester City fans couldn't help but admire Kermorgant in his displays against them

Even Leicester City fans couldn’t help but admire Kermorgant in his displays against them

The Winner

For me, there’s only one winner: Chris Solly. He’s been consistent from kick off at St Andrews in August to the final Whistle at the Valley in May. Whilst the others have shown brilliance more often than not, they’ve not done so on anywhere near a similar regularity to Solly. Another awkward speech awaits.

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King Kermorgant Crowns Fantastic Season

There are two types of final day scenarios: the Bermuda shorts, beach ball party or the nerve shredding season decider.  On a day in which phones were frantically being refreshed (if you’re lucky enough to get internet signal inside a football ground) fingernails were being mauled and hearts were stopping and starting with regularity throughout the division, Charlton Athletic had it easy. Already secured of a top half finish and out of the play-off race, there was little to play for at the Valley with already relegated Bristol City the visitors. That ‘little’ was points, pride, and securing 9th place in Charlton’s first season back in the Championship. But with Chris Powell in charge, you could almost guarantee he wouldn’t allow the foot to be taken off the pedal and the Addicks would go out to win and only win. That in itself would create the party atmosphere for Powell, something he knows all too well following Charlton’s 4-1 win over Coventry in 2008 in which he scored an emotional goal with almost his final touch in an Addicks shirt. No Bermuda shorts for Powell and his players, but there certainly was an end of season party to remember as Charlton romped to an impressive 4-1 win.

It was certainly a game of two halves; the first dire, the second dynamic. It took just two minutes of the second period for the Addicks to take the lead as Mark Gower’s cross was emphatically volleyed past Tom Heaton in the City goal by Yann Kermorgant. There wasn’t long to revel in the marvel of Kermorgant’s exquisite strike as the Frenchman added a second four minutes later, heading home from Solly’s pinpoint ball to the far post. Bristol City pulled one back just before the hour mark in calamitous circumstances as Michael Morrison’s under hit back pass was snapped up by Bobby Reid and the youngster lobbed a stranded David Button in (by which I mean away from) the Charlton goal, but that blip failed to stop the Addicks playing some excellent football. Kermorgant was inches away from a hat-trick as his outrageous chip from 25 yards rebounded off the post, but Obika was there to nod the ball into the net and give Charlton their third. Bradley Pritchard’s fantastic driven ball across the face of goal for Johnnie Jackson to turn in at the far post rounded off the scoring for both the game and the season with five minutes to play. The players and Powell got the appreciation they deserved during the lap of honour following the full time whistle. Another successful season, another season promising more for next; we’ve got our Charlton back.

The Addicks made a trio of changes from last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough. Out went the injured Ben Hamer with Button coming in to replace him in goal, whilst Ricardo Fuller also sat out the final game of the season giving Jonathan Obika the opportunity to start up top alongside Kermorgant. The final change saw Charlton welcome back skipper Jackson following the hamstring injury that kept him out of the trip up north to Riverside. Danny Hollands vacated his place in midfield, pairing Jackson with Gower. Pritchard and Harriott maintained their starting roles on either wing, whilst the back four of Solly, Morrison, Dorian Dervite and Rhoys Wiggins started for the 9th game in a row. Third choice keeper Nick Pope was given a place on the bench, as was Scott Wagstaff in what was widely regarded to be the academy graduates final game as a Charlton player. Andy Hughes had also recovered from his hamstring injury to earn a place amongst the substitutes.

Following Bristol City’s 3-1 thrashing at home to Huddersfield last week, manager Sean O’Driscoll made half a dozen changes to his side’s starting XI. Out went Richard Foster, Matthew Bates, Liam Kelly, Marvin Elliott, Albert Adomah and Steve Davies; in came Liam Fontaine, Louis Carey, Paul Anderson, Joe Bryan, Reid and Ryan Taylor. The changes reflected O’Driscoll’s comments after last Saturday’s game in which he made it all too clear he wasn’t impressed with the performance, but well publicised former Charlton transfer target Sam Baldock was able to hold onto his place up front, as were Louis Nyatanga and Greg Cunningham in defence. Heaton kept his place in goal, whilst Neil Kilkenny, another survivor from seven days ago, started in a four man midfield.

To call the first half mundane would probably be a little too kind; there was very little to speak of in terms of action or chances at all, whilst both sides were incredibly sloppy. It had the feel of just what it was; a relegated side against a side with nothing to play for. Of the few chances created in the opening period, it was Charlton who had the best of them. Pritchard and Harriott linked up well down the right inside the first minute for the latter to cross but Obika could only glance his header wide, whilst Kermorgant, despite connecting well, headed off target from Gower’s corner kick.

There was an early change for the Addicks as Wiggins, hobbling off with an injury, was replaced by Lawrie Wilson with less than ten minutes played. It was a shame to see the Welshman’s season end with injury after the struggles he has had throughout the year; an injury free Wiggins next season is vital. It took Charlton a while to adapt to the change in personal and position, Solly moved to left back and Wilson slotted in on the right, with the side seeming to miss Wiggins’ threat down the left flank. Neither side could muster up any meaningful chance in the period following Wiggins’ injury; Obika’s run down the left flank forcing Heaton into action as he tipped the ball away from goal whilst Pritchard slipped attempting to react to the loose ball the closest either side got. Jackson’s optimistic volley that was sliced away for a throw proved to be the only moment of humorous relief in a tedious 25 minute passage of play.

The game needed a piece of magic to kick it into life, and Harriott tried to provide just that. Played in by Jackson, the winger cut inside before skilfully bearing down on goal, but he didn’t hit his shot cleanly and the ball skewed wide. Despite Harriott’s attempts, the game remained solemn as Bristol City earned themselves a dangerous looking free-kick just outside the area, but Baldock’s attempt was fired straight at Pritchard in the Charlton wall. Jackson headed from Solly’s cross in the last minute of the half, whilst the visitors tested Button through Anderson’s strike in stoppage time but the ‘keeper was equal as the sides went in level.

If this game had have been live on TV, most would have switched over to Antiques Roadshow long before the start of the second half, but what a mistake it would have been had they had done so. Whatever Powell said to his side at half time seemed to do just the trick. It took just two minutes for the game to come alive as Charlton took the lead in fine fashion. Obika played in Gower down the right and his first time cross sat up perfectly for Kermorgant with the Frenchman volleying home with some ferocity. It had taken 47 minutes, but finally the Covered End were vocal as Obika fired a shot just wide soon after Kermorgant’s strike, and they had even more reasons to be loud as a second goal came with 51 minutes on the clock. Harriott and Solly combined down the left hand side and the latter put in a delicious delivery, one that Kermorgant couldn’t turn down, rising above everyone else at the far post and heading past Heaton.

Bristol City didn’t cave in completely though, and the impressive Reid headed wide, but Charlton so nearly put themselves three ahead soon after. Jackson’s corner was flicked on by Dervite at the near post with Morrison somehow not making contact at the far. With the goal at his mercy, all Morrison had to do was make contact with the ball, but it just evaded him. It was to prove somewhat costly as City immediately went down the other end and pulled a goal back, with Charlton paying a huge helping hand. Wilson lost the ball in the middle of the park but it appeared Morrison had the situation under control as he regained possession. His back pass, however, was short of Button by quite some distance, allowing Reid to steal in and chip the ball over an out of position Button. In attempting to stop the ball, Button appeared to injure himself against the net, but that was of no concern to Reid who celebrated his first goal for his boyhood club.

The goal sparked a short spell of pressure from the away side as Reid fired wide from distance and then forced Button into a comfortable save low down to his left. However, that was to prove Button’s final act as the keeper left the pitch, unable to continue due to his injury sustained during City’s goal, and was replaced by debutant Pope. It wasn’t exactly an easy start for the youngster in between the sticks as the talented Adomah, on as a substitute, fired wide after a run down the left, whilst the same man carved out a free-kick close to the goal line and not too far from the area. Kilkenny found Carey in the centre from the set piece but, somehow, the defender fluffed his effort over the bar when it appeared easier to score. Pope’s sigh of relief was greater than any inside the Valley.

That clear opening spurred Charlton on again and Kermorgant’s volley from just outside the area bounced fractionally wide, whilst Wagstaff came on for Harriott to make what will almost surely be his final appearance in a Charlton shirt. Just seconds after the substitution, Charlton sealed the three points. Kermorgant collected the ball 25 yards goal and, when it seemed easier to drive at goal, opted to attempted a chipped shot over Heaton. He came so close to his hat-trick as the crossbar denied him, but the ball practically fell onto Obika’s head, giving him the easiest of tasks to give Charlton their third and the striker himself a well-earned goal. The Addicks kept on coming and Jackson raced through, put his pass to Obika was soft and Heaton got down well to save, but Charlton soon added a fourth. Pritchard was played in down the right and his defence splitting ball across goal was met by Jackson who regained his position as top goal scorer from Kermorgant with a fine finish at the far post.

Kermorgant’s free-kick in the dying embers of normal time was blocked away for a corner, and Gower’s resulting delivery was volleyed at goal by Wagstaff and, heartbreakingly, blocked on the line. A goal mouth scramble ensued but neither Obika nor Morrison could poke the ball into the net and Bristol were able to clear. Wagstaff looked like he was one result off winning his accumulator; absolutely distraught. Kermorgant, desperate for his hat-trick, pulled off one last spectacular effort but his scissor kick ballooned horribly wide and he had to settle for two as referee Berry blew for full time. A second half of attacking play from Charlton to rival any other performance this season; truly outstanding.

As the players received their deserved lap of honour, there was still time for the now yearly emotional address for Chris Powell. Not a dry eye was left in the house as he praised every aspect and every individual of Charlton Athletic Football Club and spoke about his ambitions for the future. Just like last season, the final walk away from the Valley was filled with sadness that such a fantastic season was coming to an end, but the overwhelming emotion was excitement to what the future will bring for this football club.

Once again, another fantastic team performance as won Charlton the points in emphatic style. Baring the mishap for Bristol City’s goal and Wilson’s performance in general, every individual was exceptional. Obika and Gower were both excellent and involved in almost every attacking movement; I for one hope to see them at the Valley in a red shirt come August. Pritchard and Harriott were as threatening as ever down the wings, whilst captain Jacko put in yet another brilliant display from the centre of midfield. The defence were also solid too, if a little limited by Wiggin’s withdrawal early on, but Solly did well down the left. You wouldn’t expect anything else from him, would you? But there’s only one man of the match: Yann Kemorgant. The two goals would almost certainly do it on their own but his performance was much more than that. Not a single header was lost from minute 0 to minute 90 whilst his touch, build up play and his work dropping deeper and coming out wide were all exceptional. Displays like that really do make you wish we had a team of Kemorgant’s to call upon.

After three seasons in League One, Charlton Athletic have finished 9th in the Championship, just three points off a play-off place with a squad made up of the players from last season. We’ve beaten the Champions, taken points off second place and 3 out of the 4 clubs in the play-offs, including Leicester. We’ve finished above last season’s play-off finalists and one of the play-off semi-finalists. We’ve had a record away win, and an away record only bettered by the top three. We’ve pulled off incredible victories at home and more than once fought back from the dead. We’ve scored some incredible goals and defended like warriors to earn points in games we should have had nothing from .To top it all off we’ve unearthed some real young talent with both the U21’s league and U18’s league being one, as well as Harriott becoming a first team regular. Chris Powell is a hero. The players are all heroes. We’ve not only got our Charlton back, we might have just a little bit more than that.