Falcons suffered their first league defeat since March as Charlton came from a goal behind to win 2-1 in south east London.
After the usual batch of late withdrawals, Olu and John set new standards for Falcons ridiculousness by travelling the Charlton Athletic’s stadium, rather than the training venue. This meant a rather unfamiliar line-up with Matt joining Pete and Duncan at the back while Percy made his league debut in midfield.
Charlton started the better team and should have taken an early lead when their striker Dan, who is the league’s top scorer, missed from close range. Their pace was proving to be a problem but Falcons gradually worked their way into the match and started passing the ball across the large pitch much better as time went on. With possibly our best team goal of the season, the ball was rolled out from Conal into defence and a number of smooth passes released Cal on the left. His perfect cross was met by an expert leap by Stevie who headed in his second of the season to make it 1-0 on 30 minutes.
Charlton continued to put the Falcons defence but even with Duncan struggling with a knee injury and Matt struggling with, well, age, we held firm and managed to stop any serious efforts on goal. Sadly, it seemed that the visitors would be on level terms as a dart in from the left saw one of their players clattered and a penalty awarded. However, Conal kept his penalty-saving record up by throwing himself to his right and palming the ball around the post.
1-0 at half time and John and Olu had finally arrived which allowed Matt to take a well-earned breather.
Unfortunately, things didn’t really get going in the second half. For whatever reason, the passing went to pieces and the midfield energy from the first half just wasn’t there. That said, there was a stroke of good fortune in Charlton’s equaliser on 55 minutes as a free kick evaded all targets and somehow found its way into the far post. On 70 minutes, they took the lead as Dan’s pace got the better of the defence and his low shot from the right squeezed past Conal to make it 2-1.
Not surprisingly, the home team parked the bus in the final 20 minutes, desperate to hold on to a vital win. Falcons had a couple of chances from corners and free kicks but it seemed that we had run out of ideas by this point. Charlton hung on to claim a deserved 2-1 win.
This was our first league defeat of the season and our first away defeat in the league since February 2016. It came against a team very much on the up although we should also reflect what might have been with a full-strength squad available. We have the chance to dust ourselves of and return to winning ways with our final fixture of 2017 at home next Sunday to East End Phoenix.
Squad: Conal, Pete, Duncan, Matt (John 46), Cal (Olu 70), Kieran, Percy, Jimmy, Paddy, Chris, Stevie
Scorers: Stevie (30)