At least we can say our Charlton team has in the final couple of games of the season been sending the majority of fans in the stadium home happy. For the final outing at The Valley we managed a rather laboured but ultimately OK 2-0 victory against Shrewsbury, curtesy of two powerful headers from set pieces, Charlton fans were able to at least see a win to round off home games, even eye a 12th-place finish. Yesterday we sent most Ipswich fans home with a smile on their face by delivering an abject display against a decent team, which put four past us and should have had more. The only good news for us on the day was Cheltenham’s late equaliser at Cambridge, which deprived the latter of two points and meant we finished the season in 13th spot rather than 14th (which would have equalled our post-war low).
There’s not much point going over the bare bones of yesterday, other than to underline that Ipswich provided clear evidence that if we want to be in the running for promotion next season we have to improve a great deal. Sure, we had little to really play for and they wanted to put on a show for their fans, who like us will have been hoping for much better at the start of the campaign. Perhaps some players were already mentally on their holidays, some are still in the dark over whether they are going to be offered new contracts (I’ve no idea what goes on behind the scenes but if players such as Pearce and Washington still don’t know it is a poor reward for their efforts and reflects badly on the club; if a new contract is to be offered for crying out loud tell them and play them, if not accept that there’s no point in them being selected – a state of limbo suits nobody). Still no excuse.
If as JJ said after the game that “a lot of lessons will be learnt”, hopefully he has learnt his. What mindset did the players start the game with? Who decided that from the start our midfield and defence would say goodbye to each other? And if we wish to play relentlessly with the 3/5 at the back with wing-backs, which we have done since Jackson took over why are we still so bad at it? With the midfield pressing high up the pitch all Ipswich had to do was pass the ball forward and run in support. Suddenly they were up against a flat line of five and simply exploited the gaps between them, especially on our left side as Famewo and Blackett-Taylor played pass the buck.
Ipswich’s first goal was outstanding for sure. Perhaps they could have been closed down better as they moved the ball square, but their guy stroked an absolute belter past Harness, brought in to replace an ill MacGillivray. Their second was embarrassing as a couple of passes were all that were needed to send their guy through for a one-on-one with Harness, and he scored. With just over 10 minutes gone they could afford to take their foot off the gas for the rest of the first half. The stats at the break showed they had 70% possession, 12 attempts on goal (albeit only two on target), against two from us (one apparently on target).
Obviously when you’re 2-0 down at the break you know you need to score the next goal to get back into it. Instead within a few minutes of the restart we were 3-0 down. After CBT lost possession they simply cut us apart. That was pretty much game over, although after that at least the chances created were more even. Ipswich should (in my view) have had a penalty for a poor Inniss tackle and they missed a string of sitters. For us both Washington and Stockley should have got on the scoresheet, especially the latter, who managed to hit the bar from about a yard out. But it was all rather academic. In the event Ipswich’s fourth just served to round things off.
A fellow Addick asked me after the game how I thought Harness had played. Not easy to say. Ipswich after all only had four attempts on target and none of them he could do anything about. He did make a couple of good blocks, coming off his line, but basically he didn’t make a save as all the other times they missed. The defeat was nothing to do with him.
Anyway, it’s all done. Now we wait for the serious news regarding first who is and who is not being offered new deals. Get Dobson his PoTY award and let us as quickly as possible forget what has been a disappointing failure of a season. No question that nine points in the first 13 games meant that a top-six finish was probably already out of reach before JJ took over. His tremendous run of results at the start suggested otherwise but then injuries and suspensions sent us into reverse and killed off any thoughts of a late challenge. Take away the first 13 games and we took 50 points from 33 games, which extended over a full season would have given us 69/70, alongside Ipswich, who yesterday demonstrated that were not in their class.
Enough, it is all done. The season is over. Hope everyone has a good break from it all and comes back for the next campaign refreshed, relaxed, but determined and optimistic. Of course we the supporters will be. Please TS, JJ, ensure that everyone else it too.