If getting a stream for the Plymouth game was done on a wing and a prayer but for certain good reasons, repeating the exercise for tonight’s utterly unimportant and unwanted game might have been seen as a cry for help. I’d intended to give it a miss, with the chance to get a look at the next batch that Duchatelet would have flogged at the first available opportunity not exactly a compelling reason. Then I was told that we had no chance of progressing in this tin-pot competition even if we won. That swung it.
Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch the most pointless Charlton game since the Full Members Cup early rounds at Selhurst Park back in 1986/87. Don’t know if they count the streams sold, but I’d guess the number was on a par with the attendance for those games. Yes, I was one of the 817 who turned out for the game against Bradford City – although when I checked it seems the Checkatrade Trophy game against Fulham in 2017 had a crowd at The Valley of just 741 (including 67 very disturbed Fulham fans). So unless they confirm an ‘attendance’ for tonight of below that number I can’t lay claim to having been ‘at’ our worst attended home game. To add insult to injury seems there was a chance to win a free pizza of all things (I have normal taste buds and find cheese utterly disgusting).
The team lined up as … well, your guess is as good as mine. Maynard-Brewer was understandably given another run-out in goal, Pearce was back for the first time this season, while Matthews and Barker also featured, presumably also in defence. Morgan, Maddison and Vennings we know, which left Aouachria, Ghandour, Aidoo and Henry. No disrespect to them but I’ll admit to having no idea where they played. The club site indicated Aidoo would be in defence to make up the four with Henry joining Morgan and Vennings in midfield, leaving Maddison and Ghandour either side of Aouachria in a 4-3-3. Did have high hopes that Wiredu would get off the bench to be on the same pitch as Aidoo, just to see how the commentators coped. But it didn’t happen.
In the event the two teams served up as much entertainment as we could reasonably have hoped for, with goals thrown in, no shortage of competitive challenges, and some tentative lessons to take away. Most important for us was Pearce getting back on the pitch, for the first half, and more minutes into Maddison and Mathews. But I’d imagine Aouachria and Mingi would take issue as they both got their names on the scoresheet.
We were the brighter in the first 15 minutes or so and deservedly took the lead as good work down our left ended with Morgan getting to the by-line. His hard, low cross was met a yard off the goal-line by Aouachria, holding off the attentions of their defender to score. However, as the half wore on Orient slowly gained the upper hand and probably should have been level at the break. In particular one cross from their right evaded Barker and their guy arriving at the far post just failed to connect properly. I think we were all looking for a decisive contribution from Maddison, for him to stamp his authority on the game, but like on Saturday there were flashes of promise and some good stuff but not yet this season the finished product.
Pearce retired at half-time, replaced by Mingi, and the game was still evenly balanced. An Orient shot was palmed away by Maynard-Brewer while at the other end Morgan took it through on the right side and shot well, only for the ball to rebound off the foot of the post with the keeper beaten. Then after the hour we scored what at the time seemed like a decisive second. A free kick was swung in from the left by Maddison and it evaded everyone until it reached the incoming Mingi at the far post. His header was blocked but adjudged to have crossed the line.
However, before we’d had the chance to sit back and enjoy the two-goal cushion Orient pulled one back. They were allowed rather too easily to cut across our box and the guy slotted home. Indeed, a couple of minutes later and it might easily have been 2-2, their guy cutting inside but his shot going over the bar.
Instead the decisive moment came with about 15 minutes of normal time left (after Gavin had replaced Aouachria and Powell had come on for Vennings, who had taken a knock); and it was probably the moment of the night. Maddison was played in and bore down on goal with the ball on his clearly favoured left side. An opportunity to see how he might finish and he fairly leathered the ball into the roof of the net. It was so fast there was a moment when nobody seemed sure it had gone in. So when his first really clear-cut chance for us arrived he took it with aplomb, which is satisfying.
After that Orient might have scored again, with Maynard-Brewer making a few more saves and a free kick of theirs clipping the crossbar, while Maddison had some opportunities to get another. It all ended amicably enough, a decent workout for both teams I guess – and no signs of any serious injury for us. Neither club will be too worked up about whether it was a fair result. And no, I didn’t win the pizza, which in the circumstances was probably just as well.