Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 1-0 Brentford

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

The transfer window may have closed, but The Charlton Champion is delighted to announce a brilliant new signing – football writer KEVIN NOLAN, who will be reporting on home matches at Charlton Athletic during this season. Kevin wrote about the Addicks for the Greenwich Mercury, where he also covered local boxing, and he continues to write for Voice of The Valley and the South London Press to this day. We’re delighted to have him on board.

Sent back down the Thames without so much as a point to show for their skilful efforts, Brentford at least accomplished something four Championship sides have failed to achieve this season. They prevented Lyle Taylor from scoring.

Having already relieved Charlton of Ezri Konsa, who used them as a stepping stone en route to the Premier League, the Bees made enquiries about Taylor this summer but were knocked back by his current employers to the player’s brief displeasure. It’s a clear sign of the topsy-turvy change in football’s pecking order that Brentford, an irreproachable 130-year old club with a spectacularly modest record of success, are in a position to prey on Charlton. Not so long ago, it was the other way around.

Starting the new season in irresistible form, Taylor becomes vulnerable again when the second transfer window opens in January. And nothing his manager Lee Bowyer said in a curious interview in the South London Press last Friday was apparently designed to discourage suitors.

In a lengthy back page article, Bowyer conceded that “if he carries on doing what he has been doing for me it will be impossible to keep him. That’s being honest. Lyle has come into the Championship … and fitted straight in. I look at other strikers in the Premier League and Lyle could do what they are doing … for sure he could go ino the Premier League.” Hardly a hands-off “no pasaran” clarion call of defiance – more like an invitation to meet Charlton’s asking price, with an o.n.o rider attached.

It seems inevitable that early next year, Taylor, still the right side of 30, “ain’t gonna work on Roland’s farm no more“.

Denied a scoring chance by a vigilant corps of watchdogs, Taylor did the next best thing. He began his colleagues’ spirited resistance to unarguably the smoother side with a tireless display of defending from the front. No run was too pointless, no tracking back too exhausting.

With all his obvious charisma, the coveted striker continues to play football like an insatiable kid in the street. It’s impossible for either teammates or crowd not to be carried along by his guileless will to win, which is after all the one essential point of the beautiful game.

Torrid afternoon

On a sizzling summer afternoon, Charlton were often given a torrid chasing by Thomas Frank’s patient, well-oiled West Londoners. But they resisted with a mixture of defiance and no little defensive skill of their own. Blocks were heroically made, last ditch tackles successfully launched, cover one for another taken for granted.

Behind his beleaguered, bloodyminded teamates, Dillon Phillips contributed three saves of varying excellence. It made for stirring stuff and if we can borrow for a second time from the Spanish Civil War, the atmosphere smacked of “no pasaran!” courage. Though they dominated possession and apparently enjoyed a 20-3 shot count, the Bees were impressive only up to a point.

Four minutes before the interval, they were handed a lesson in the only statistic which emerges as meaningful from a game of football. Caught dawdling in their own danger area, they carelessly conceded the only goal.

Mobile Spanish forward Sergi Canos had already been responsible for missing Brentford’s most clearcut chance by prodding over the bar the gift presented him by a ghastly mix-up between Phillips and an otherwise impeccable Ben Purrington. Preparing to start yet another attack from outside his own penalty area, Canos was surgically dispossessed by Jonny Williams and with the underworked visiting defence wrongfooted by the abrupt switch in momentum, the ball was deftly slipped through them to an alert Conor Gallagher.

Sensibly composing himself, the tousle-haired teenager gleefully finished into the roof of David Raya’s net. Against the run of play it may have been but Brentford had only themselves to blame for falling into arrears. They had an entire half to put things right.

Magnificently stubborn

Phillips duly came into his own, despite one hapless fumble of a speculative snapshot. His soaring fingertip effort to tip Ollie Watkins’ rocket over the bar was superb; the reaction save from Henrik Dalsgaard’s close range header relatively routine; a full length dive to turn aside an accurate drive from a Pontus Jansson spectacular.

As the second period wore on with the Bees swarming over their intended victims like.. well, bees, it seemed at times that Charlton’s magnificent stubbornness must falter. And before they and their unwavering supporters could relax, there were four added minutes of almost indescribable madness to negotiate. Pearce cleared Emiliano Marcones’ header off his goalline before, in a blur of wild action, no fewer than three point blank shots were charged down, with the ball conveniently caroming back to an attacker on each heart-stopping occasion.

A sequence of probably less than a minute seemed to stretch on indefintely before sanctuary was reached and a shattered Valley saluted their bloodied but unbowed heroes. As to a man, heroes they were.

Charlton: Phillips, Oshilaja (Lapslie 32), Lockyer, Pearce, Purrington, Pratley, Cullen, Williams (Field 81), Gallagher, Leko (Hemed 46), Taylor. Not used: Amos, Bonne, Sarr, Oztumer. Booked: Phillips.

Brentford: Raya, Henry, Pinnock, Norgaard (Mokotjo 60), Canos, Jensen, Watkins, Marcondes, Jansson, Dalsgaard, Racic (Benrahma 60). Not used: Daniels, DaSilva, Mbeumo, Clarke, Jeanvier. Booked: Henry, Canos, Dalsgaard.

Referee: Tim Robinson. Attendance: 16,771 (2,250 visiting).

Kevin will be alternating his match reports between The Charlton Champion and, and we’ll be aiming to publish on Monday mornings.

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