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Bringing this to the attention of others probably makes some of the points I’m about to make rather hypocritical, but I thought it needed to be explained.
At the very least, I’m going to take a break from running this blog. Maybe a permanent one. The break is something I want, and probably need, but equally I guess it’s an experiment to see whether I’m better with or without it.
I make no secret of my poor mental health. Crippling to the point where I don’t really have a ‘proper’ life. I haven’t mentioned explicitly on here that I attempted to take my own life in November (the ‘story’ is here if you want to read it – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u7KAwL8p_xv_njIMHydbmSGb9HkaqOj1AvYDVkqm4TM/edit?usp=sharing), and I’ve not at all recovered mentally from that experience.
My mental state is making running this blog an uncomfortable experience. Equally, running the blog is worsening my mental state. Unnaturally intense anxiety on both counts.
I seem to be hiding from anything at the moment that brings on bursts of intense anxiety. I’ve escaped most social media for the time being, which was a huge cause of anxiety and panic despite having benefits. I’m not sure if it’s really working, I guess you could say it isn’t given that I’m getting nowhere, but it’s more complex than that.
On the one hand, I feel like admitting something that has been important in my life for several years, a huge distraction that gives me a sense of purpose, has become a hindrance is a brave call. On the other, I feel incredibly weak. Just another show that I’m not doing enough to improve my position and hoping that hiding from everything that creates any sort of anxiety will help.
But I just need to be away from it. It’s not a rash decision, particularly as it’s been causing sickening anxiety at an increasing level for some time. I’ve thought it through with consideration.
I think the main thing, the main producer of anxiety at least, is that I can’t handle the attention at the moment. It might be attention that isn’t there, but it’s attention I certainly feel that gives me great anxiety. I’d rather just hide, be anonymous.
I spend my day-to-day life being anxious around people, fearing their views of me, believing them to be negative and subsequently doing all I can to hide. There’s a relatively similar fear that comes from sharing pieces that I write on here. Worries about how my writing will be examined, who will see it, the judgements of my opinions – things that are created by drawing attention to myself, and can be paused by hiding.
I feel sick every time I see a comment has been left on one of my posts. I feel even more sick believing that people are reading it and judging it, judging me. The constant anxiety – I can’t get away from what I’ve posted on my blog because the fear of judgement is always there – makes this stressful and painful rather than enjoyable.
Despite coming away from Twitter, I saw that a piece I wrote was shared by CARD on there. I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety, and expressed this with aggressiveness as I so often do when irrational anxiety overwhelms. Something that would have been avoided if I just hadn’t produced the piece.
Equally, I’m really having difficulty with simply being at and attempting to enjoy Charlton games, for reasons totally unrelated to the club’s position. In fact, it’s when victories occur that cause the most damage. I feel a pressure to be happy, or at least distracted, which I can neither fulfil or deal with, and suffer huge bouts of depression thereafter.
I feel anxiety in being in the crowd, with people around me. Anxiety from what they might be saying, anxiety caused by what they might think of me. They don’t care, they have a game to watch, but I don’t deal in rational thought.
Even things like getting my camera out at away games, which I used to lose myself in, and quite enjoy attempting to use it for as long as possible before a steward attacked me, has become terrifying. The anxiety of what people think of me. The anxiety of knowing that stewards and such like will be looking on.
Away games are draining, demoralising, and anxiety-creating whatever the result. I’m too scared to break the mould and trend, though. I feel I have to continue this run of unbroken games, and I’m not really sure why.
Maybe it’s to impress other people, who don’t care for a second. Maybe it’s to feel I have a sense of purpose, and to try to distract myself with the only thing that might work. Maybe it’s because if I didn’t go to Charlton games home and away, I would leave the house even less.
Maybe going, watching the game, and going home without anything else to worry about will help. Just take in 90 minutes, and that’s all that matters for football for that week. I need to escape the anxiety it causes, and maybe I need to actually escape going to every game if that’s half the problem.
Ultimately, I’m just not getting the enjoyment out of this that I should be. It should be at the very top of the lists of my hobbies. Instead it finds itself among the things that make me most anxious.
I will, for as long as the club are willing to waste a press pass on me, continue taking photos at Charlton. It’s got to the point where I feel so uncomfortable being in the stands, home and away, that what I can make to be the rather isolated experience of photography is better for me. They’ll be going on here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/sportkyle/albums.
But for all the reasons above, doing this is just too much at the moment. I do hope it will just be a break, that there will be a lust to return if I can make improvements with my mental health. Either way, sorry.
If you want to say something in response, I’d much rather you emailed than commented. I’m unlikely to reply if you comment. Email is email@example.com – may not reply immediately but will certainly read and get round to replying at some point.
My apologies once more.
Charlton Athletic’s trip to Gigg Lane this weekend offers a return to hallowed ground. Ground upon which Roger Johnson told supporters, “if you don’t like it, don’t fucking come”. A moment now as enshrined in the football club’s history as Clive Mendonca’s hat-trick, Jon Fortune’s header, and Chris Powell swinging on the Hillsborough crossbar.
Relations between players and supporters increasing somewhat since then. The result of some likeable characters in this side, at least offering something worth supporting. Relations between club and supporters, once Roland Duchatelet’s sale is complete, might even increase to a reasonable level soon.
Better relations between players and supporters, but that not necessarily to say that there is total faith in this side. Even after ending an eight-game winless run against Oldham Athletic last weekend. A run ended in thoroughly unconvincing fashion.
The football textbook says that ending a long run without a win provides a sudden burst of confidence, transforming fortunes and getting the side back on track. The performance in the 1-0 victory over the Latics not really providing any reassurances that that will be the case. Still some work to do to find confidence in themselves, and provide confidence to supporters.
But the form the Shakers are in is enough to provide a substantial amount of confidence. One win in 14 games, including six consecutive defeats. If the Addicks want to get themselves back into the promotion picture, they should be beating #TeamsLikeBury.
No excuses this weekend. Not injuries, not the current restrictions in place as a consequence of the takeover discussions, and not the ghost of Roger Johnson. Win it.
LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1-1 BURY (23/09/2017)
A sluggish Charlton performance allowed Bury, sat like they do now inside the division’s bottom four, to leave The Valley with a point to their name in September.
Under a certain amount of pressure to respond after consecutive defeats to Wigan Athletic and Gillingham, the Addicks responded by allowing the Shakers to take a ninth-minute lead. An outstanding finish from Jermaine Beckford, coming inside and curling into the far top corner, but those in red were complicit in the opposition gaining an early advantage. Charlton’s backline standing off the experienced forward, giving him space, and inviting him to shoot.
A goal that was hardly the catalyst for Bury to take complete control of the game, but Robinson’s side struggled to get back into the contest. Attacking moves slow, and often blunted by wayward passes or poor delivery. The Valley crowd restless.
So Josh Magennis’ equaliser six minutes before half-time was desperately needed, and not just to level the scores. Jake Forster-Caskey’s flighted delivery from the right emphatically headed home by the Northern Ireland international. The platform set from which to take the game to the visitors in the second period.
The Addicks, however, still struggled for fluency. Bury now second best, but Charlton cutting the image of a side somewhat out-of-form. Sluggishness in their forward moves preventing them from making the most of their control of the ball.
But for all the complaints with the performance, the Addicks might well have claimed victory in the game’s final moments. Chris Solly crossing for Magennis, the forward not quite getting enough behind his header, and goalkeeper Joe Murphy able to get across his goal and push the ball behind. A decent chance, and one Murphy did well to keep out, but a win would have flattered the Addicks.
There was a reasonable amount of expectation on Bury as the season began. Made not the sort of pressure that said they had the resources to finish inside the top six. But certainly a feeling that they were League One’s dark horse.
Their recruitment impressive. Jermaine Beckford, Stephen Dawson, Joe Murphy, Eoghan O’Connell, Jay O’Shea, Rohan Ince, Chris Maguire and Harry Bunn. To name but a few of a list of signings that most third tier clubs would have been envious of.
But no third-tier club is envious of the position the Shakers find themselves in with a little over half the season complete. Bottom of the division, 11 points adrift of safety, and in the midst of a run of six consecutive defeats. Individuals of decent League One reputation, neither under Lee Clark or Chris Lucketti’s stewardship, have failed to form a collective of decent League One competitiveness.
In defence of their current form, four of those six defeats have come against sides either in the top six, or the cusp of it. But last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle, a much-improved Plymouth Argyle but still one that found themselves in a similar position to Bury in the early months of the campaign, displaying the true extent of their struggles. Two goals down before Ryan Lowe was dismissed, and only four shots managed throughout the contest.
Clawing themselves away from such a position, with such performances being punished with such results, seems an unlikely task.
Eight rather painful affairs. Eight results that saw the Addicks fall from fourth, and five points off second with a game in hand, to ninth, and 17 points off second as well as four points off the top six. Eight games without a win finally brought to an end.
Last weekend’s 1-0 win over Oldham Athletic, a poor Oldham Athletic who shouldn’t have been able to keep themselves in the game until its final minutes, certainly wasn’t pretty. A performance as poor, if not worse, than many of those seen during the winless run. But a result desperately needed.
A momentary spark of brilliance from the returning Stephy Mavididi, marking his second Charlton debut having re-joined on loan from Arsenal with his first senior, the game’s decisive event. A moment of quality not befitting of the other 89 minutes. The other 89 minutes in which the Addicks lacked any sort of fluency, sat themselves deeper and deeper, and invited the Latics to come forward.
It not, as such, the sort of performance to inspire a concrete belief in certain change. Not least with several bodies confined to the treatment, and Robinson’s quest to recruit new bodies dented by Roland Duchatelet’s unwillingness to invest in his final days in control of the club. But you would hope it provides some sort of foundation.
Injecting a degree of confidence into a deflated squad. The move to within a point of the play-offs a reminder that the eight-game winless run hasn’t destroyed the season entirely. But improvement, a lot of it, still very much needed.
Saturday’s defeat to Plymouth provided damage beyond the scoreline, with three players unlikely to feature against the Addicks as a consequence of events at Home Park.
Ryan Lowe will certainly be absent, with the experienced forward set to serve a three-match ban having been dismissed for a foul on goalkeeper Remi Matthews. But so too could the Shakers be without winger Zeli Ismail and full-back Craig Jones. Ismail, on his first game back having returned from a loan spell at Walsall, needed to be substituted 30 minutes into the game after a heavy knock, while lasted a little less than hour having seemingly pulled his hamstring.
Should Ismail and Jones be unavailable, they’ll join goalkeeper Murphy and forward Beckford, who both made positive impacts for the Shakers in the reverse fixture, in being laid low by injury. Both players contending with knee injuries, with the latter out for the remainder of the campaign. Goalkeeper Connor Ripley (Middlesbrough) and forward James Hanson (Sheffield United) arrived on loan last week to fill the void left by Murphy and Beckford’s absence.
Bury will also be without Nicky Ajose, who is ineligible to play against his parent club. Ajose, banished under Lee Clark, has only been used sparingly by Lucketti. The forward absent from the weekend defeat to Plymouth, with five other loanees in the matchday squad.
Charlton are likely to travel to Bury with a number of key players still absent from their matchday squad.
Chris Solly (calf) and Jason Pearce (knee) remain out, Jake Forster-Caskey is expected to be unavailable for several weeks with a hamstring issue, and, though his return isn’t too far away, the trip to Gigg Lane will come too soon for Tariqe Fosu.
Billy Clarke also remains absent, as he begins recovery from a season-ending knee injury following an operation, while it seems only a matter of time before Leon Best’s departure is announced as a consequence of his own season-ending knee injury.
And Karlan Ahearne-Grant became the latest victim of this injury curse, having hobbled off during the midweek Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Oxford United.
KEY BATTLE – WINNING. JUST WINNING
Let’s not lie to ourselves here. Saturday’s victory was a pretty gruesome one. Like being offered £1,000 by something that looks like a merging of Iain Dowie and Alan Pardew, and needing to tentatively hold your hand out with closed eyes in order to receive it.
But it would still be £1,000 gained. Saturday was still three points gained. Still a first victory in seven decades, or nine games if you’re interested in actual truths.
The problem being that, given the nature of the victory, it doesn’t feel you with reassurance that a corner is about to be turned. Not least when injuries, the restrictions placed on Robinson in his quest for new bodies, and individual form remains concerning. One moment of excellent skill from a single player, before just about grinding out victory against dire opposition, hardly inspiring in the grand scheme of things.
And so believing a single, unconvincing win will alter the course of the campaign is questionable. Confidence will increase, but not to the extent that an eight-game winless run is forgotten, and the side is injected with a spark that means a return to promotion-worthy performances. It’s difficult to see dramatic, immediate improvement.
What Saturday does offer, however, is another chance to win. Another opponent in poor form of their own, horrendous form compared to ours, who should be being beaten. They should be beaten well, but, ultimately, they should be being beaten.
For the time being, how games are won probably needs forgetting about. Just win them. Somehow.
Not sure it’ll be pretty, but they’ve lost six games in a row. Six. (Six). Bury 0-1 Charlton Athletic
I often wonder whether there is a frustration, an anger, with me from the outside. The same frustration and anger that I feel towards myself, that probably has some rationality attached to it but seems largely based on self-loathing and hatred. Are people annoyed that, in particular, I appear to only be regressing with my mental health and seemingly doing little about it?
Oh look, he’s constructed another eight-Tweet thread about how he’s feeling. Ah, there’s another 2,000-word blog piece about wanting to throw himself in the bin head first. Instead of repeating very similar emotions with different words on the world wide web, how about actually trying to address them?
That’s me shouting at myself, the moment I express how I feel on any platform, regardless of the fact there are perfectly legitimate and beneficial reasons why I do so. I imagine most people don’t actually give a shit, because they have their own lives and I don’t actually play any part in it. They probably just do a bit of tutting, don’t read, then like a photo of a nice cat.
But such self-criticism, and self-doubt in a process of expression that allows me to understand and take control of emotions that otherwise overwhelm me as just one of many reasons why I choose to do it, surely only exists because I fear what others think. Fearing that I’m clogging up Twitter feeds, writing a load of utter nonsense, and making people cringe is probably perfectly reasonable. Having an intense anxiety that people are critical of my lack of progress, and believe I effectively embrace the position I’m in by not doing enough to further myself and my health, probably isn’t.
One of the reasons that I think I have that intense fear is a consequence of not responding in the way you might expect to quite visible support. Disappointing those, often near strangers with no need to be so kind, who have offered caring words when I’ve expressed emotion. A sense that I’ve insulted those of higher status who have gone out of their way to offer assistance, and insulted further those who can’t believe that level of support hasn’t made a difference.
Johnnie Jackson, the captain of Charlton Athletic who inspires players and supporters, sent me a signed shirt with a message on in December of last year after reading one of my blog posts. A few months ago he messaged me asking if there was anything more he could do to help, and that that offer would always stand. That’s Johnnie Jackson, a man whose wholehearted performances helped even when he wasn’t interacting with me, going out of his way to support a supporter/peasant.
Chris Powell sent me a Christmas card last year, with an invitation for me and my dad to be his guest at a Derby County game. Fixture changes and the sacking of Steve McLaren meant it never happened, but the offer alone was more than enough. You might have noticed I’m quite fond of Chris Powell.
Bradley Pritchard is in regular contact with me. Appreciative of my following of him (though I’m just grateful he’s not taken out a restraining order), he’s sent an extended letter, drove me to the station after a Greenwich Borough game and discussed my physical and mental health with me, and frequently been absolutely fantastic. He even sent a text me at the weekend after I gave a very small amount of money to his project.
Additionally, I have Northants cricketers offer similar levels of support. The experience of attending Northants games on my own is made a great deal easier by the interaction the players offer, and the interest and care they show, largely a consequence of having a few seizures at games. I’d go into more detail if this wasn’t a football blog, but there’s at least four who are absolutely bloody marvellous.
Quite simply, I don’t deserve it. There’s people in worse states, who deserve that time. I cannot express the value I attach to such support.
But, more importantly, people in similar states don’t get it. And people in similar states are able to make progress without such incredible support. I feel ashamed at such a thought; angry at myself, a sense of guilt that I’ve not made more of the support, fear about how people perceive me as a consequence.
How doesn’t that all help? Well, it does. The emotions that the help I’ve received, whether it be a simple comment from a stranger on Twitter or Johnnie Jackson making me feel like a valued human being, provides have been incredible.
Ultimately, though, I’m ill. I feel a sense of guilt saying this but support like that, as incredible as it is, wouldn’t heal a broken leg. I need something more substantial and constant to improve. (I feel like I’ve just completely devalued it, I haven’t, I’m sure you’re all aware of that, these are the ridiculous fears I have)
I need friends. I have one person that I would call a friend, who I talk to everyday, but I don’t see them. Intense anxiety makes the loneliness and isolation feel impossible to break out of.
I need professional help. My previous counsellor left his job, and I’ve been a waiting list now for 14 weeks since. My epilepsy nurse informed me today that she believes my decreasing physical state is related to my mental health, so help would be helpful.
I need to make changes. But I’m in no state to make changes. I don’t really know how to help myself, despite desperately wanting to and trying to when I do see fragmented opportunities.
I’ve tried to escape, distract, for too long without success. I need to heal. I need to show others that I’m healing, primarily so I can stop beating myself up.
Similarly, I worry there’s a view of cynicism surrounding the fact that I don’t appear to be doing anything practical. Just the norm. The things I’ve always done, which evidently don’t do much.
The truth is, I’m too anxious to break routine, however small. I might see something I want to do, and I’ll spend a great deal of time considering it, but ultimately come to the conclusion that engaging with it would be too terrifying. A different choice of food, something that I would logically enjoy, possibly positive help; all horrific to consider and follow through with.
I constantly have to justify to myself, and to others around me, that I want to get better and that I am pushing myself. That I’m not just accepting the position I’m in, and there’s a legitimate reason why I struggle to break the mould. Depression, anxiety and epilepsy has completely crippled my life; I can guarantee I don’t want to remain like this.
Imagine actually accepting this as your life. Imagine living with total sadness, total fear, in a state of total isolation, without direction, and without reasonable quality of life. Imagine not wanting to seek change.
But then I do ask myself, is it all worth it? Battling against the powers that control me, only to lose even when I win. Anxiety and depression strike even when an opportunity comes for me to enjoy something, and it’s in those cases I really do feel the better option is to hide away, accept that everyone is going to hate me for my lack of progress, and hope it’ll all magically disappear without me making any effort.
I am, however, trying something this Sunday. Something different, that most certainly breaks the routine and means I’m going to have to battle against a crusading army of anxiety-filled warriors. Charlton have offered me an opportunity to try something different.
At the game against Bury, I was told I couldn’t use my camera after about seven decades (three years or so) of using it without problem. After some conversations with the very helpful Tom Rubashow thereafter, I unfortunately couldn’t resume using my camera in the stands. Perfectly reasonable, perfectly helpful, lots of disappointment but no intention to stage a one-man protest outside either the press or security departments.
However, without suggestion or demand, I was offered a pitch-side press pass, which I can take advantage of where I feel appropriate. They could have, and probably should have, just palmed me off and forgotten about me. Instead, Mr Rubashow and Charlton’s media team have joined that list of people who have done things for me that I don’t deserve.
I shall be pitch-side for the Truro FA Cup game on Sunday. A more relaxed setting to start, I felt, and a fantastic opportunity. All the same, I’m fucking terrified.
I’m not physically or mentally well enough to be in a new environment, there’s people I don’t know that I’ll have to be around and interact with, I feel incredible small in these situations, I’m going to get into states of panic about the situation, I’m not actually very good at photography. There’s some more nonsense but you get the general idea. I’m a bit worried.
Writing that out makes me want to email the media team and say, “sorry lads, gutted to be missing out on photos and the free pies, but I’m going to sit in the West Stand and have a good cry, that alright?” But I’ve done it now. Aside from being too scared to pull out, the regret and self-hatred I’ll feel if I don’t do it will probably mean I won’t leave my room for quite some time, let alone attempt to make progress.
I’ve not had an invitation like this in recent memory. The words I have written in this piece would immediately become bollocks if I don’t take it. The people that I imagine beat me up over the help from famous people would probably remove one of my limbs and beat me up with that if I don’t take it.
And, truthfully, I love photography. Photography and refereeing. Those are the things that still allow me to escape for four seconds from wanting to throw myself in a bin head first.
I’m still highly critical of myself, but I can be rational. I can see when I’ve done well without any sort of clouding, and get a buzz from it. Refereeing is escapism that works, I’m performing a role that isn’t me, while when I’m using my camera, I’m focusing in more ways than one (god that was dreadful, sorry).
But the sharp intake and outtake of breath I’ve just required reaffirms the fact this all rather scary. I’m not being overly negative, or inviting negativity that isn’t there, mainly because I’m desperately desperate for this to be, if nothing else, a release. There’s genuine gear, and genuine anxiety.
So what do I hope to gain from Sunday? Well, some nice photos that people will like on Twitter and make me feel like I serve a purpose and I’m not completely useless. And the experience of being in such a setting, though I don’t think I’m going to take photography further; I’ve never had training or anything, and it’s fluke that I’m in this position.
Maybe going through with a situation that evokes anxiety, and as such challenging anxiety, will let me challenge other situations where anxiety prevents progress like Ben Amos to Bradford City forwards. But that seems a step beyond reality. Dad’s taking me, and that’s the biggest barrier, I need him to be holding my hand to do anything.
Truthfully, I just want it to provide proof to my doubts, with anything being a bonus. I just want it to be something to look back on that lets me tell myself “look you bloody idiot, you do help yourself, now stop trying to beat yourself up and wondering who hates and go makes yourself a cup of tea”. I’d make the tea anyway but tea when wanting to put yourself in a bin a little bit less tastes better, in my experience.
I just want to reassure myself that I am helping myself. I want to stop feeling embarrassed by my lack of progress.
Most would have been happy if Charlton Athletic were to return to The Valley this weekend on the back of collecting two points from two tough away games. Extreme difficulty expected in the games at the Kassam Stadium and Valley Parade. Anything more than two commendable draws a very encouraging bonus.
And so that they face AFC Wimbledon with four points gained from their ventures, and directly after a battling win over third place Bradford City, means SE7 is likely to be a pool of positivity and optimism on Saturday. Belief both in those representing the Addicks, and in victory. Victory over the lowly Dons, who make the trip across the capital having lost to fellow strugglers Plymouth Argyle last weekend.
But to get carried away, both in a long-term and short-term sense, would be silly. The league a competitive one, and concern of collapse lingers alongside justifiable hope of pushing for a top two spot come May. The league’s competitiveness meaning that a run of positive results and performances does not assure Karl Robinson’s men of victory against a side who sit 20th.
But these are the sort of games, if Charlton do wish to push for the top two, that must be won. Home games against sides with relegation worries the perfect opportunity to gain points. An opportunity that cannot be turned down.
And with eight points between the Addicks in fourth and Wigan Athletic in second, dropping unnecessary points could prove particularly costly. A performance required. Whether convincing or not, one that does enough to win.
There not much of an excuse for Charlton failing to build on the position they find themselves in this weekend.
LAST MEETING – AFC WIMBLEDON 1-1 CHARLTON ATHLETIC (11/02/2017)
A second late capitulation of the season against AFC Wimbledon saw Charlton drop two points at Kingsmeadow in February, as Tom Elliott struck in stoppage-time to equalise for the hosts.
In fact, Robinson showed greater fighter than his side, with the former MK Dons boss becoming involved in a scuffle with a member of the Dons’ ground staff at full-time.
The Addicks appeared well placed to put the collapse at The Valley earlier on in the campaign, which saw Neal Ardley’s side score twice in the final 12 minutes to come from behind to win, behind them when they took an eighth minute lead at Kingsmeadow. A lead gained in quite spectacular fashion, too. A Ricky Holmes free-kick curling beautifully into the top corner of James Shea’s goal, well behind the reach of his desperate dive.
But Wimbledon were not crushed by the early strike, and increased in their competitiveness as the half progressed. Unfortunate, in fact, not to have successfully found a route back into the contest prior to the break. First Holmes fortunate only to receive yellow after a dangerous tackle on Lyle Taylor, before Sean Kelly’s cross-cum-shot somehow evaded both all in the centre and goal.
Robinson’s men becoming sluggish, if not second best, towards the end of the first period, and an early Tony Watt run and shot, though comfortably saved by Shea, at the start of the second-half was encouraging.
But the visitors really should have killed the game off ten minutes after the interval. Holmes’ deflected cross bouncing kindly through to Lee Novak, but the striker somehow managing to put his effort wide of goal. A huge let off for the hosts, that they would capitalise on.
For thereafter, the Dons were dominant. Pushing and pressuring the Addicks, whose defensive efforts never provided a great deal of comfort. Elliott in particular providing a great deal of worry.
And their pressure finally told in stoppage-time, as Tyrone Barnett nodded on a Shea long ball perfectly for Elliott, and the forward finished superbly across goal. Just reward for AFC’s efforts. Just punishment for Charlton’s sluggishness.
The hosts understandably enjoying their moment, but a little too much in the eyes of referee Boyeson. The already carded Elliott jumping towards the crowd to celebrate, and receiving a second yellow as punishment. Not enough time left in the game, however, for the Addicks to capitalise.
And with the Wimbledon mood high, and Charlton frustration equally so, a member of the Dons’ ground staff developed the confidence to make a comment towards Robinson come full-time that resulted in something of a punch-up ensuing. The visiting boss, rather hilariously and also thankfully, restrained by Ardley to prevent the incident being anything more than a bit pathetic. A rather eventful afternoon at Kingsmeadow.
AFC Wimbledon: LWWLDL
Having suffered a three-goal defeat to Oxford United, leaving them inside League One’s bottom four with just two wins from 12 games played, the successive victories that AFC Wimbledon gained thereafter appeared vital to turning their season around.
A crucial away win at fellow strugglers Northampton Town, followed by an impressive victory over promotion-chasing Rotherham United. A bit of breathing space opened up between themselves and the bottom four, but, at this stage of the campaign, a more important message potentially delivered. The proof they could compete, and possibly that they would not be spending a season lurking in and around the relegation zone.
And with the Dons facing another side with fears of relegation at this early stage of the campaign last weekend – Plymouth Argyle – it seemed they’d set themselves a tidy platform from which to move into a position of relative comfort. A position from which to build upon. A foundation, allowing for a campaign of worry to be avoided.
Alas, a single-goal defeat at home to the Pilgrims has, without undoing the good work of the previous two victories, most certainly undone the positivity created. Bottom-place argyle gaining only their second win of the campaign, and their first away from home. The fragile nature of this Dons side exposed once again.
A season of fighting desperately to maintain their status in League One seemingly on the agenda for Ardley’s men.
It not long ago that four winless games had supporters of the Addicks understandably worried. The performances dire, a positive start undone, and the faults within the squad being exposed. A worry there were certain limitations that would prevent the obvious potential of this group of players from being displayed.
But such worries seem a distant memory, with performances in recent weeks offering the perfect response. A thrashing of Fleetwood, a determined effort against Doncaster when dipping below par, and a battling victory at Bradford. Charlton fourth, and the quality within the starting XI being displayed.
It probably telling that a frustrating effort against Oxford United, in which wasted chances and a failure to make the most of earlier dominance, was the least convincing of the previous four games, but still providing a pleasing point.
But there reason for caution. Without the magic of Ben Amos, points would have been dropped last weekend as occasional lapses in defensive contraction remain, the form and fatigue Josh Magennis, without a reasonable alternative striking option, is a concern to match a sometimes-displayed lack of potency, and options in reserve aren’t plentiful in general. It not a perfect unit by any means.
In one way, it a worry. There may come a time when performances similar to the run of four games without a win return. In another, it shows that this side, largely performing superbly and gaining excellent resulting, can still get better.
And with takeovers rumours in existence, they might well be aided in their efforts to continue to improve, and to gain promotion.
AFC Wimbledon will be without Dean Parrett, with a serious groin injury set to keep the former Charlton loanee on the sidelines for as long as three months.
Parrett, who played nine times for the Addicks in 2011 while on loan from Tottenham, has made himself a crucial part of the Dons midfield since arriving from Stevenage at the start of last season, and will be a huge miss to Ardley’s side while he recovers.
The Dons are also likely to remain without forward Kwesi Appiah, with the summer arrival from Crystal Palace not featuring since September as he continues to contend with a hamstring problem, and the versatile Jon Meades, who nears a return from a knee injury having not featured this season, but Saturday will come too soon.
Mark Marshall should be available for Charlton having missed the previous three games with a thigh injury, more serious than first feared.
The winger was initially expected to be absent for the game against Doncaster Rovers two weekends ago, before making an immediate return to the matchday squad. But the summer signing, who has made one appearance for the Addicks as a consequence of injury, hasn’t featured since. A return to training this week means he stands a chance of being in the 18 on Saturday.
Robinson, however, will remain without Jason Pearce (knee), Harry Lennon (groin), and Lewis Page, whose return to first-team availability edges ever-closer having recovered from a long-term ankle injury.
But the players Charlton’s boss does have available to him means he has a few selection decisions to make ahead of the visit of the Dons. Naby Sarr starting at left-back at Valley Parade, but Jay Dasilva’s attacking talents missed and more likely required in a game where the Addicks will be on the front foot, while Ben Reeves will continue to compete with Billy Clarke for the position behind the forward. Sarr moving into the centre to accommodate Dasilva the most likely change, with Ezri Konsa the incredibly unfortunate victim.
KEY BATTLE – AVOIDING COMPLACENCY
Twelve games into the League One season, and the division’s bottom two places were occupied by Gillingham and Plymouth Argyle. Both only winning one game. That one game coming against Charlton.
Were it not for Ousmane Fane’s dismissal three minutes after eradicating a two-goal deficit, the pattern of the game suggested the Addicks would have completely capitulated at Boundary Park against winless Oldham Athletic. The performance against Bury, placed inside the third tier’s bottom four, abysmal. Robinson’s side haven’t exactly been convincing against struggling opposition during this campaign.
And so to suggest that victory over AFC Wimbledon, who arrive in SE7 precariously perched above the relegation zone, is assured would be incredibly naïve. Not only because the Dons have a natural tendency to fight, picking up some positive results prior to last weekend’s costly defeat at home to Plymouth, but because of what has occurred during this campaign. That, and the fact Charlton are experts in bringing supporters down to earth with a heavy bump.
Oldham aside, the problem in those games has been a slow start that the opposition have either taken immediate advantage of, or the Addicks simply haven’t been able to properly recover from. A sloppy goal subsequently conceded, and the somewhat bemused men of Robinson without the confidence and composure to break down a defiant wall of defenders set up to maintain the struggling side’s advantage. I don’t think it’s complacency or arrogance, probably more a combination of poor performances and difficulty in responding to the unplanned, but it feels like complacency.
So too does a look back at least season provide another reminder to remain fully focused. The Dons salvaging points against Charlton in dramatic fashion twice last season, exposing a tameness that you would hope no longer exists. You would hope, but, if nothing else, soft goals have been conceded on several occasions throughout this campaign.
Past experiences offering reminders to Robinson and his side that performance levels cannot drop, and a below-par performance is unlikely to go unpunished irrespective of the opposition.
Scrappily holding onto an advantage for much of the second half, and adding a second with 15 minutes to play to avoid panic attacks, frequent watch-checking, and Ben Amos having to do something that defies logic. Charlton Athletic 2-0 AFC Wimbledon