By Tom Smith
It’s always the same. I’m listening to a commentary on the CAFC Player and my spirits are raised by the words “…and the ball goes out for a Charlton corner”. This time, I think to myself, even though I know in my heart that, far from leading to a bullet-headed-goal from the edge of the area, the ball is unlikely to even get past the first defender.
Monday’s game against Bristol Rovers, saw the Addicks score three crucial goals directly from set pieces (albeit free-kicks rather than corners). Considerable praise has rightly been heaped on the delivery of new messiah Joe Aribo, whose performances in the last two games left many CAFC fans wondering ‘Ademola who?’ but this looks to me like the first sign that the new manager is finally asserting some influence on the Charlton team. As Karl Robinson gets more games under his belt, the team does seem to look more threatening going forward. In the games against Southend and Bristol Rovers we looked a lot more dynamic, pressing through the centre at Roots Hall and forcing eight corners away from home. And here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write – Andrew Crofts is suddenly looking very impressive in the holding role, spraying quarter-back-precision long balls and giving opposition defences something different to think about.
In no way are we a finished article, but we are becoming a team worthy of respect. By scoring a range of different goals, as we have in recent games, we make it harder for teams to figure out the best way to defend against us. Despite all the excuses about injuries that, on a game-by-game basis, Robinson refuses to make, the new coach does seem to be opening up new scoring channels – which will be vital if Charlton are to become the attacking force that Karl seems to consider in line with his ‘philosophy’ and consistently win games in 2017.