And so we are a material step closer to the end. Last home game completed (and with this my only actual game at The Valley this season), club shop emptied of end-of-the-range stock (come on, I couldn’t resist a Charlton Xmas jumper at £3, would have bought more if I could have carried them to France), opportunity for pre- and post-match drinks with fellow Addicks (including some of the International Addicks), and with the three points secured the options for our final placing much reduced. We will now end up either 10th, 11th or 12th, depending on which of us, Lincoln or Shrewsbury (who meet in the final round of fixtures) can put aside the beach towels for one more effort.
The game itself, despite five goals, never got above interesting, with the fans acknowledging the circumstances – although of course for Port Vale the afternoon ended happily for their decent turnout with MK Dons’ failure to hold onto a three-goal advantage securing their place in the division for next season irrespective of the result. We will of course be joining them in that regard, although this has been clear to us for a long time (basically once the threat of relegation had been seen off).
What were the points of note? Our first was marked by this conversation with another Addick as the move developed. We were discussing the isolation of the lone forward and what he – and those around him – could do to minimise this. As we worked the ball down the right I commented to him that this is where Campbell has to get into the box and close to Leaburn. “He’s getting there but he’s not going to score” was the reply. Well, he did. And with Rak-Sakyi forging another one of his own doing, winning a tussle for the ball with their defender then moving across the box before shooting home, followed by Leaburn notching our third, it meant that all the front three had scored.
The game might have had a different outcome had the ref not mystifyingly decided not to give Hector a second yellow shortly before half-time. He had seen a first for his part in a bit of handbags with one of theirs, then blatantly pulled back another who had gone past him. Morgan was yellow carded in the second half for a much less obvious one in a less dangerous situation. Perhaps the ref just felt generous in the circumstances. The gesture was reciprocated as Hector went over to shake his hand when substituted in the second half.
The end of the game was followed by a ‘lap of appreciation’, which was remarkable for Holden taking the opportunity to address the fans and talk of delivering next season a team we could be proud of. The message surely can’t have gone unnoticed by the players actually walking around the pitch. A number of course simply return to their clubs (some, such as Bonne and Penney, may have already done so, not being called on). But others will be waiting to find out if there will be a contract offer, bearing in mind also those who will return to us still under contract.
Otherwise the only actually disappointing note of the afternoon was that there was no concrete news on the takeover front. There was the possibility of those involved waiting for the final game to make the announcement and introduce themselves, whether or not with guitar in hand, but nothing happened. We continue to ‘watch this space’.