Monday, March 27, 2006

Twenty for Benty

Decent performance, decent atmosphere, three pigeons, three goals, and three points.
Yes, it's been another entertaining afternoon at The Valley.

I thought we played pretty well for the vast majority of the match, and if we could consistently achieve the level of commitment that we have shown in the last two matches over the course of a whole season, we would have no trouble at all in finishing as a top six side. This is the best I have felt about following Charlton in a good few months. We still have the Cup run to look forward to, some more winnable home games are just around the corner, new players will be arriving in the summer, and England are going to win the World Cup. All is well with the World.

Honourable mentions this week go to Darren Bent, Jerome Thomas (again), Luke Young, and Chris Powell. The other midfield trio didn't perform badly either. I was a little worried during the first quarter of the match because Parker and Emre were just being allowed too much time to settle on the ball and dictate play, but after we got our noses in front, (Parker's wondergoal aside), both players drifted out of the game and the midfield battle was won. Both of our fullbacks were bombing forward and overlapping the midfielders, the standard of crossing was much better, and one of our strikers scored a goal through finally attacking a ball at the near post rather than drifting deep.

Most of the match reports I have read seem to give the impression that Newcastle were the better side, and I can't quite understand that. In my opinion it was the best we have played in a while, and the crowd once again rose to the occasion and sung throughout. "We all agree, the Pigeon is better than Parker", and "Pigeon Pigeon, what’s the score?" were just inspired, as was the impressive wing-play of the bird itself. Even the East and West stands were starting songs today. Hopefully the atmosphere generated at both games this week will be replicated throughout our coming fixtures. It's an obvious thing to point out, but it's clear from our last two performances that the team really does respond when their backing in the stands is so vociferous. I really hope we can keep it up.

Congratulations to Darren Bent on his 20th goal of an increasingly impressive first season in the Premiership. Given guessed the right way, but he was beaten by the power of the strike. Now that the game is over and the points are safe, we can also give credit to Scott Parker for his 30-yarder. It was almost an exact replica of the goal he scored for us down at St Mary's a few years ago, and fair play to him for running the length of the pitch in order to celebrate it with his own fans. I can think of a number of other players who would have run towards the Covered End with one finger to their lips in that situation.
Lee Bowyer was unlucky with the own goal, but he did acknowledge the home faithful before leaving the field at the final whistle. We were linked with him quite heavily earlier this season and I think that he still wants to play for us; it's my prediction that Curbishley (if he doesn't get the England job) will snap him up in the summer. It's been reported that he would like a move back to London and although he's 29, he definitely still has a couple of years left in him at this level. We could certainly do with a player like him in the squad.


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