Must give Charlemont full credit today. They played with 10 men for fifty five minutes and though we should have gone on and won the game, they stuck at it, never giving up and nicked a late point. To be honest they have become something of a bogey team for us: we seem to be more than capable of creating a hat full of chances against them and massively less capable of finishing them. That said they are a decent side, well-organised and well-run (Andy played it tactically perfect today) and with a stand-out player in Jamie Holder it is hard to reconcile Charlemont with their stats (only one league win).
Our disappointment today was tempered by the fact that we were really quite lacklustre, taking the whole of the first half to get out of bed. Mark tried to freshen things by offering Sammy and Tom starts but we were slow out of the blocks and Charlemont had the better of the early encounters. Despite playing down the slope we made little progress and, having forced a couple of corners Charlemont took the lead when a flick header from a corner somehow evaded Joe on the post. That stirred us a little and top scorer Fowler began a miserable sequence when their keeper saved at the front post. We were still huffing and puffing but creating chances and Mark and Ben Smith both had efforts cleared off the line. Their defensive bravery was once again a feature.
As the game drifted towards half time one of their lads got a red for a verbal misdemeanour and we responded with a little more intent. They seemed to have completed a satisfactory half when Ben Smith crossed for Sammy to rise majestically and power in a header with practically the last kick. This was exactly what we needed so we reflected at half time on both our lethargy and opportunity.
They got the tactical decisions right in the second half (they are always right when they work!) by realising (down the hill) that they needed to continue to try and win the game. This made for an open game that swung this way and that. It meant we never really settled to any rhythm though we did have a good spell midway through the half. Christie had come on and we were playing some decent link-up football with Ben and Mark driving from midfield and Tom and Olly wide. Ben Fowler was also cutting through them but his finishing even when clean through was awry today. There was one controversial moment where he appeared to have been caught by their last defender inside the box but the ref, perhaps mindful of having already sent one off waved play on.
The 11 versus 10 argument will rage on. Today I don’t think it made all that much difference: they were pretty consistent both halves, we were very inconsistent. Where it does affect you is in your head (they’ve got 10 so we’ll obviously win!) and this was no excuse for us because we weren’t desperately chasing a win because the game was 2-1 to us within 15 minutes of the restart due to an unlucky Charlemont defender slicing into his own goal from Rowler’s free kick.
No we spent the rest of the second half seeking the killer third but instead fell foul of an expert long throw and Holder header 8 minutes from time. All the best to Andy and his lads