We started today with (in my opinion) our strongest team that we have on offer. Nutty Nige was back in the team replacing the injured Labant and what a surprise that Paolo was up front when on Thursday he was destined to leave?
Anyway - onto the match. Charlton started brightly and it was obvious they were here for the three points. Joey Cole was on the right hand side today with Sinclair on the left. Carrick and Lomas were in the middle. Joey was looking very sharp and was buzzing around well on the right hand side and Schemmel was doing the overlapping which allowed us to get a good few crosses in the box.
Cole had our first chance - The ball was poorly cleared by the Charlton defence and Cole run into the box, cheasted it down and hit a shot which the keeper saved. Next best chance was from a di Canio corner which was met by Repka who should of done a lot better but he put it wide.
After 22 minutes the goal came for us. Di Canio ran into the box and was brought down and the referee Mike Riley gave the penalty. Di Canio stepped up and tucked away his 9th of the season.
The lead was doubled 10 minutes later when Cole really started to shine. Cole beat two Charlton players before giving it to Kanouté who gave it to Di Canio who played a ball down the line to Schemmel (a pass which looked like it was over hit) and he pulled it back for Freddie Kanouté to once again answer his critics with a goal. His 11th in the league and 12th overall.
The front two have come under much fire this season but I do believe they are the strongest two we have.
After that goal, Charlton really came at us. They had a series of corners and shots, and hit the post just before half time from Johansson and James was saving shots is magnificent fashion to keep us 2-0 up at half time.
From the second we kicked off in the second half you could sense thing were going to be tough. Repka looked shaky and immediately we were under pressure. Charlton had chance after Chance but could not find a way past James.
For us Carrick went on a run from well inside his own half all the way up into the Charlton box but his shot was blocked. This was about the only thing Carrick did right today. He gave the ball away an awful lot. Kinsella hit the bar with a thunderous shot. On 69 minutes Di Canio went down under an innocuous challenge, and was stretchered off. In my opinion this is a major blow but of course that will be argued by many. Defoe replaced him.
Only a few minutes after Paolo had gone the game went a little mad! Carrick got himself into a bad mess in his own area which ended up in the ball re-bounding off him onto the cross bar which came out only for Winterburn to appear to bring down Johansson and the ref awarded them a penalty. As you can tell - it was frantic stuff.
Paul Konchesky took the penalty and blazed it high into the upper centenary, with Charlton wondering what did they have to do to score.
We had a few more half chances with Sinclair hitting a shot just wide and Cole had his shot saved by Kiely. But we weathered the storm and got our three points that takes us above Tottenham And Villa.
Overall - Another 3 points. Do we really care how they come about?
Tottenham next - its the big one. We must get something out of it.
David James 8 - Excellent. He had to make a few important saves today and he did just that. Commands his area like no other.
Schemmel 8 - What can I say which I haven't said already about him? He plays his heart out and is a constant threat down the right wing. Without a shadow of a doubt - our player of the season.
Repka 6 - I like Repka. I think he could be a top defender. But he really lacks concentration and this is a real problem. Looked shaky and vulnerable.
Dailly 7 - I never have really liked Dailly. Still think he is suspect but I have no problems in giving the man credit. He plays with determination and grit and deserves to be applauded for a fine solid performance today.
Winterburn 7 - He gives us his all. He never gives anything but 110%. Although sometime a bit vulnerable, he does work had and at 38 I can ask for no more. Played well today and worked the ball well down the left to Sinclair and di Canio.
Joey Cole 9 MOTM - Might not be everyone's choice today but he is my man of the match. He shook Charlton up with some great skills and good vision. Worked his socks off too.
Lomas 6 - As always he worked hard but went missing in the second half and was overrun.
Carrick 6 - I'm not slagging the lad because I know he has the potential to be a great player but if I'm writing about this game then I have to say he was poor. He gave the ball away time and time again and got in a bad mess for their penalty. Why a player over 6 foot cannot head a ball I don't know. A bad day for Carrick - but nothing major! He will be a great player.
Sinclair 7 - Looked good today. Looked better in the second half. Showed us what he can do on the left. Looked strong quick and skilful today.
Kanouté 7 - He is awkward and it is clear to see that defenders don't like having to defend against him. His touch was poor but he got his goal and I'm real pleased for him.
Di Canio 7 - Didn't look bad at all today. Got a lot of moves going and was showing some good flicks and touches. Scored the first goal - all be it a penalty. But he has to put them away.
Defoe (on for Paolo) - Had about 20 minutes but never got into the game at all. Moncur - (on for Cole) he came on and the whistle went! A contender for man of the match though!