It just seemed to be one of those days.
The irony is that, aside from 2 woeful defensive mistakes, we played pretty well. For the opening 10 minutes it could have been anyone's game. Both teams started with confident spells of possession. If anything, I think we looked the more likely of the two teams.
Unfortunately, after Chris Solly and Roger Johnson's defensive howlers, a comeback didn't ever seem a realistic prospect. I think the most distressing element of today's game was that Igor really didn't look himself. Unlike the early stages of the season, he seems to struggle when the ball is played to his feet and he looks like a shadow of his former self.
To go from the back to the front, I think I should discuss each player's individual performance today. Stephen Henderson was back, displaying his usual confidence with aerial balls and shot-stopping. He really couldn't do anything about any of the goals.
Chris Solly had one of those games where he looked clueless and poor in possession. He was responsible for the first goal, unnecessarily putting the ball out for a Blackburn throw when he really didn't need to. It was good to see Ben Haim back after his injury, although some people seemed to be sceptical after having witnessed several good performances by the young Joe Gomez. Personally, I thought Tal had a very good game, looking very solid at the back while also providing the team with several decent runs from the back and always looking able to provide a classy ball to someone in space. Regrettably, the same cannot be said of his centre back partner, Roger Johnson. Completely at fault for the second goal, he looked unsettled all game and managed to make every Charlton fan draw a breath whenever the ball was played to him. I'm willing to make allowances for his poor performance in some ways, however, because of how well he has played in our last few games. Morgan Fox had a very quiet game, but I thought he was pretty poor overall. Unable to match the pace of his opposite man, as well as demonstrating an inability to cross the ball, he really showed his lack of experience today, despite his previous great performances.
Moving on to the midfield, I thought that our man of the match was probably Jordan Cousins. Every time he got the ball, he showed a maturity and intelligence which should really be beyond the capabilities of a 21 year old. He seemed to do pretty much everything right, always finding a decent pass and tackling with a ferocity and determination befitting of a Charlton captain (which I think he should be given a shot at, despite Solly being the obvious choice). He really has shone in Jackson's absence and I personally will be voting for him as player of the season, even though the season is not over yet. The rest of the midfield was really a mixed bag; Yoni Buyens took his penalty well, but did little else all game and proved a liability in possession. I am adamant that, when Yoni plays well, the team plays well. In the same way, I think that Blackburn were one of those teams who closed Buyens down when he had the ball. Unfortunately, as good as he is with the ball at his feet, he really struggles under pressure. Buyens is definitely a classic 'luxury' player; he thrives when given the time to boss the game, but really panics when pressed in possession. On the wings, I thought Gudmundsson and Bulot were largely irrelevant for the whole second half. While they looked classy and tricky in possession in the first half, the second half was not really designed for wingers as we looked to attack Rovers with a more direct approach. Other than their invisibility, they did okay in possession (and I must say, Bulot has a fantastic cross on him).
Up front is probably the most interesting area of scrutiny today. Tony Watt, as majestic as he has been in the last few games, was simply not given the aid he needed today. His usual strong and threatening self, he was guilty of missing a one-on-one situation which you would have put your house on him to score. However, as bad a miss as it was, you couldn't help but feel that Watt was not given sufficient help all game, particularly in the first half where he resembled Wayne Rooney in terms of having to drop incredibly deep to get the ball. Despite his wastefulness with his big chance today, I thought he had a decent game again and gave his all to help the team and create chances, and he really does seem to frighten defences with his pace, directness and strength. Vetokele, however, gave an uncharacteristically lethargic performance today. He moved as if every run was a real strain and, in my opinion, he is still carrying an injury. If you ask me, his season is essentially over, because he needs the upcoming Summer break to recover from the knock he picked up against Reading and he will not get back to his old ways until he has been given proper respite from that. He looked slow and reluctant today, although he did also provide a few great flicks, particularly for Watt's fantastic chance.
Overall, it was a very bizarre game. Far from looking generally shocking, we possessionally matched a very classy and physical side and could have picked up another couple of goals on balance. It is a very odd situation when our biggest crime is trying to keep the ball in, rather than using some initiative and letting it go out for our throw. On balance, we actually played quite well. All their goals were absolute giveaways and, with slightly more clinical finishing from our usually ruthless front men, we could have nicked it today. The problem with facing Jordan Rhodes is that any defensive frailties will be exposed and made to be regretted. I have come to the conclusion that, much like Derby's Chris Martin, Rhodes is one of those players who, in terms of gameplay, is actually a fairly quiet character. He does the simple things and contributes with the occasional classy touch or lay-off. But what is so effective about these types of forwards is that they are not even particularly brilliant footballers; they are just world class goalscorers. Rhodes took his goals today with the confidence of a forward who looks like he can score any time he wants to and credit must be given to the clinical nature of his finishing. He is, as someone recently described our own Tony Watt, 'a Scottish predator'.
Despite maybe a slightly harsh scoreline in terms of the gameplay/chances created today, we showed some encouraging signs and lost against a very decent side. What I will say is that our next games are pretty much all against sides who are in free fall form and, for me, our season will be made a brilliant one if we are the ones who put Millwall down. I will, of course, be at The Den for that game and, though I hate to jinx such an important fixture, I do just feel that it could be the time for a long overdue victory. On to the Blackpool game, and one can only hope that we maintain our direct, composed attacking game on the bog of a pitch at Bloomfield Road. COYA!!