Charlton Athletic 1
Bolton Wanderers 1
I had just completed my commentary debut at Dagenham & Redbridge, with the game finishing a little after 2pm I had the important job of delivering the Wrexham debit card to the team bus driver so he could pay for the post match pizzas (Wrexham squad can thank me later).
That left me with about 50 minutes to get across to my next game- Charlton against Bolton. A quick jog to Dagenham East tube, over to West Ham, change to the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich then two miles from there.
Having reached North Greenwich at 2:50pm I hopped into a taxi and we sped off down the road. The driver was well on board with my crazy day out in the capital and I left him a little tip for getting to the ground with one minute to spare.
Once I had found the turnstile entrance and my seat, I had missed about two minutes, missing very little. A bit hot and sweaty from rushing around I enjoyed a share bag of white chocolate buttons (to myself obviously) and watched the action unfold.
The rush was well worth it, the ground only a third full, I had plenty of choice for a seat and the noise from a decent sized football crowd is difficult to beat, and something I had almost forgotten when being in a crowd of 18 at Follands Park on a Friday night in the Wessex Division One.
Compared to all the grounds I have visited this season (with the exception of St Mary’s) Charlton is very nice, something typical of the fact that this was a Premier League venue before their relegation in 2007.
It wouldn’t have been all that long ago that Charlton v Bolton would have been a top tier fixture, but for whatever reasons, both teams find themselves in League One with the away side defending a 100% winning start to the season.
With two corners filled in, The Valley has that proper stadium feel with the away fans occupying the unattached stand behind one goal, in good voice too.
Getting to the game late, the big screen was a bonus, clearly displaying the line-ups as well as showing the odd instant replay, I was being treated to such luxuries.
Off the field problems were topical points of discussion for many fans sitting around me and evident when Bolton took the lead, however I felt very at home at The Valley, maybe it was the red seats and and the ‘CAFC, Red & White Army’ chants which of course can be heard from the die hard fans of my team, Crewe Alexandra.
Maybe former Alex front man Nicky Ajose now plying his trade with the Addicks also helped me to settle into the game. I would love to get up there for another game at some point.
A last minute equaliser from Ademola Lookman ended Bolton’s winning run to the season, having taken the lead through Gary Madine early in the second half.
After a goalless first period, Madine put the Trotters ahead just after the interval but Addicks substitute Lookman fired in a dramatic last minute equaliser to put a smile on the disgruntled home crowd.
Charlton’s Nicky Ajose had a great chance early in the game when he got a good shot on goal from close range but Wanderers ‘keeper Mark Howard had narrowed the angle to deflect the ball away.
Russell Slade was forced into an early change when captain Johnnie Jackson limped off and was replaced by Patrick Bauer.
Jason Pearce then went close with a header from a Ricky Holmes free kick but the chance went wayward.
The away side then had a good chance of their own to take the lead through former Middlesbrough central defender David Wheater when his effort hit Chris Solly on the line and bounced up off the crossbar.
The second half started badly with Bolton midfielder Mark Davies needing a stretcher after going down with what looked like a knee injury. However the lengthy delay didn’t faze the visitors who took the lead soon after.
A slip up at the back for Athletic allowed Liam Trotter to race through on the left flank and he cut a low pass back across the box to an onrushing Madine who slid in to put his side in the lead.
It was Phil Parkinson’s first return to The Valley since being sacked by the home team in 2011 and his side look set for their fifth successive win in the league.
The introduction of Ademola Lookman added some extra energy into the Charlton attack and he popped up with the vital goal from 20-yards, beating Howard low at the post.
Due to the Davies injury, seven minutes were added and Bolton had their backs to the wall soaking up the Charlton pressure as they looked for the ultimate smash and grab to find a winning goal.
Brandon Hanlan thought he had won it for the home side in the dying seconds but with most of the crowd up and celebrating the ball fell into the side netting to end the game 1-1.
2016/17 Games: 22
2016/17 Grounds: 23
Total Grounds Visited: 165