Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 4-0 Havant & Waterlooville

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

The Addicks notched up their first FA Cup win in three years yesterday – but managed to make hard work of it for much of the match. KEVIN NOLAN breathes a sigh of relief.

Still on the right side of 40, Johnnie Jackson has more than a little of the old school about him.

He’s no dyed-in-the-wool reactionary but comes across as a straightforward bloke who calls it as he sees it. And when he claimed during the week to respect the FA Cup and all it once stood for, he was taken at face value. His own failure to make it as far as the semi-finals apparently still rankles.

For this first-round tie against Havant & Waterlooville, who currently sit in 10th place in the National League South table, Jackson boldly named a side which featured nine changes from the team which went toe-to-toe with Rotherham United three days previously.

Akin Famewo and Jayden Stockley were the sole survivors but all nine newcomers were unarguably first team squad members.

On paper, at least, his team had more than enough about it to see off H&W comfortably. In no way was Jackson showing disrespect to either Saturday’s visitors or the competition itself.

But while the one-sided scoreline ultimately vindicated his judgement, it took Charlton until deep into the second half to demonstrate their pedigree. And until they did, they were bloody awful. Dreadful. Woeful. Pitiful. Lots of other words which fail me now. Provide your own if you like.

Pokerfaced on the sideline, the Addicks’ youthful boss was facing a gauntlet of disapproving hindsight as an inconvenient replay at the romantically named Draper Tools Community Stadium loomed over him.

Then his inspired introduction of Elliot Lee and Ben Watson for the misfiring Albie Morgan and Harry Arter changed everything. Suddenly the clouds rolled away, Charlton clicked and the Hawks abruptly turned into sitting ducks.

The tempo changed and so did the mood among 2,991 home fans, a meagre gathering which drew the disapproval of H&W manager Paul Doswell, who had been looking forward to a nice little earner as well as an enjoyable day in the capital. He seemed more disappointed by the gate than the result.

The first half can be dealt with briskly. Possession was hogged by the hosts who passed their way painstakingly over the halfway line, horsed around for a while, then headed back to their own territory where they set up again before repeating the process.

There were innocuous shots at goal from Charlie Kirk, with deputy right back Sean Clare the pick of a poor bunch, Arter and Morgan. But the nearest anyone came to a goal was visiting defender Josh Passley, whose shot/cross caused Stephen Henderson brief concern before drifting harmlessly off target. Rarely was an interval more keenly anticipated.

Jackson’s half-time talk was no doubt slightly salty in tone. It certainly galvanised Corey Blackett-Taylor who, after spending the first session in Joe Newton’s pocket, began to terrorise the left back. Electric acceleration set up a venomous drive which grazed the bar.

And when Stockley headed Arter’s cross tamely wide, the Addicks were showing signs of belated life, interrupted only by the fine save Henderson needed to make from Jake McCarthy’s header.

With the Hawks cheerfully wasting as much time as they dared, a daunting midweek trip to Havant – or is it Waterlooville? – was becoming likely. The visitors in the Jimmy Seed Stand were becoming cheekier by the minute when the roof fell in on them.

The first hammer blow was delivered by Josh Davison, whose task in heading home Kirk’s perfect cross at the far post was simplicity itself. With H&W’s rapidly tiring defence breached, a tide of red shirts flooded through.

Old pro Watson had brought with him a sensible, steadying influence; Lee was more dynamic and began to run his bewildered victims ragged. His nimble feet inside the visitors’ penalty area suckered skipper Joe Oastler into lunging in to bring him down and Stockley claimed his ninth goal of the season from the spot.

Nine minutes later, the scorer moved into double figures by prodding home from two yards after Lee’s whiplashed drive crashed off a post and was kept alive by Pape Souare.

The issue was well and truly decided at that point but there was still time for the most romantic conclusion to a troublesome afternoon. It was scored by Mason Burstow, who celebrated the signing of his first professional contract with his first senior goal. He’s unlikely to forget either the goal or the quality of the strike which produced it.

Having replaced Stockley on 86 minutes, 18 year-old Burstow burst over the halfway line, tearing past both exhausted defenders and supporting teammates, with only one thing on his mind. And that was to hammer an unstoppable drive past Mannion into the keeper’s inviting net.

The first of many, we trust… they don’t all have to be so spectacular, Mason.

Charlton: Henderson, Clare, Famewo, Elewere, Souare (Clayden 87), Arter (Watson 70), Morgan (Lee 70), Blackett-Taylor, Kirk, Davison (Washington 90+4), Stockley (Burstow 86). Not used: McGillivray, Dobson, Pearce, Jaiyesimi. Booked: Elewere, Lee.

Havant & Waterlooville: Mannion, Pasley, Oastler, Green, Magri (Rooney 63), McCarthy, Newton (Rendell 77), Collins (Baggie 77), Gobern, Roberts, Chambers-Parillon (Searle 84).

Referee: Carl Brook. Att: 3,865 (874 visiting).


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