It’s the story arc every great superhero movie needs. Just when you think your hero is finally down and out, officially finished as the powerful force he once was, floundering against bigger and stronger enemies, he rises once again in the face of adversity, to win back the hearts of the watching audience.
At The Valley this Saturday however, there were 11 heroes in red, all of whom rose from the ashes of a 2-0 deficit to ultimately win the game 3-2. It was the kind ofblockbuster performance that Charlton fans have missed out on all too often this season. Every player had a starring role. There was Hamer’s impressive return, Dorian Dervite’s reversal in fortunes, Fuller’s inspirational genius, Kermorgant’s unwavering passion and, of course, the example set by Charlton captain Johnnie Jackson.
There was a slight element of fortune in the result; Bolton finished the game with nine men having been the victim of two harsh red cards. Furthermore, Charlton’s equalizing and winning goals came from a rebounded free-kick and the penalty spot. Make no mistake however, this was still a deserved and vital three pointsfor the Addicks. Charlton remain just a small points margin away from the relegation zone, but when a squad has a solid spine of such great spirit that saw them to victory today, one would always back them to stay up.
Chris Powell made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Millwall. Andy Hughes was picked to play in central midfield for his first appearance of the season, with Pritchard taking up Lawrie Wilson’s place in right midfield. Ben Hamer was also reintroduced to the side having been dropped by Powell just five weeks earlier. Illness to Matt Taylor forced him to play Dorian Dervite alongside Michael Morrison in the heart of Charlton’s defence.
It was the change beyond Powell’s control that looked most costly in the opening minutes as Dorian Dervite was turned inside out by Marvin Sordell (a rumored Charlton loan target), who then fired past Hamer confidently after just four minutes on the clock. The goal came just moments after Ben Hamer had already been called into action to stop a low David N’Gog drive, and Chung-Young Lee had fired narrowly over from a Bolton corner. Not even five minutes had elapsed yet Charlton where somewhat fortunate to be just one goal behind.
It didn’t take long for that to change however. Despite some good link up play from Wiggins and Harriott, with the Welshman crossing for Pritchard whose shot was saved, Bolton asserted control. Medo Kamara doubled their lead on the 20-minute mark with a right-footedcurler that squeezed in at Ben Hamer’s near post. The shot was well struck, but Charlton’s recalled goalkeeper may well have been disappointed to have been beaten in such a manner.
The situation looked desperate for Charlton. Despite a few muffled boos after Kamara’s goal, the atmosphere was one of resigned despair more than anger as the crowd contemplated the prospect of Stevenage and Hartlepool away once again. In their previous three home outings they had lost without scoring a goal, and they now found themselves two behind for the second home game running.
In such situations Charlton have been somewhat reliant on captain Johnnie Jackson to drag them out of the mire and it was no different today. Just six minutes after the black circles had begun to engulf the Valley, Jackson injected a ray of light into the game; bursting into the box, playing a neat one-two with Fuller and finallyrifling home into the right hand corner of the goal. From nothing, Charlton were back in the game. Following Jackson’s lead, Charlton suddenly looked confident in themselves again. Andy Hughes began to assert his dominance in midfield, kicking Medo Kamara in the nether regions, but more importantly with some short, simple passing and coming deep to collect the ball from his defence.
As the second half kicked off, chorus after chorus of songs in support of the Charlton fight back rang out from The Covered End. It didn’t materialize immediately; the game was slowed down in no small measure when referee Kettle took a second half-time to change his shirt on the touchline. Yet as the game hit the hour mark, it exploded back into life.
Ricardo Fuller was racing onto a long ball a few feet outside the penalty area when he was body checked into the soil by an already booked Sam Ricketts. Bolton were down to ten men and Yann Kermorgant was eyeing up a tasty looking free-kick that was well within his range. His shot clanged onto the post, cannoning back into a frantic penalty area. Fortunately, his fellow Frenchman Dorian Dervite kept a cool head amidst the frenzy and stroked the ball home.
The turnaround was complete minutes later when Bolton again found Fuller impossible to deal with; Pratley clipping his heels in the box. Kermorgant once againgrabbed the ball. He had unfinished business with penalties. His infamous chip for Leicester flashed before everyone’s eyes but his as he smashed the ball into the left corner of the goal. 3-2 and The Valley was rocking.
Debutant Mark Gower was swiftly introduced to Charlton’s midfield, in the place of Andy Hughes who put in an exemplary shift considering his lack of match fitness and age. Gower’s composed passing was the perfect tonic as Charlton no longer looked crippled by the last minute nerves that has cost them so dearly in previous games. Thanks to seven minutes of injury time, there was still opportunity for Bolton substitute Craig Davies to pick up his second yellow card, rounding off a miserable day for Wanderers and a memorable one for The Addicks.
Starting XI: Hamer, Solly, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Pritchard, Hughes (Gower 72), Jackson, Harriott (Wilson 86), Kermorgant,
Fuller (Haynes 86).
Subs Not Used: Button, Green, Obika, Feely.
Booked: Hughes, Solly, Kermorgant.
Goals: Jackson 25, Dervite 60, Kermorgant (pen) 63.
Starting XI: Lonergan, Ricketts, Knight, Dawson, Alonso, Medo, Spearing, Pratley (Odelusi 82), Ngog, Sordell (Butterfield 59), Lee (Craig Davies 69).
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Eagles, Kevin Davies, Wheater.
Sent Off: Ricketts (58), Craig Davies (90).
Booked: Ricketts, Dawson, Spearing, Craig Davies.
Goals: Sordell 4, Medo 20
Ref: Trevor Kettle