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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 04 May 13 at 17:19 PM

Gary Haines reports from The Valley

Yann Kermorgant’s spectacular volley lit up a four-goal final-day flourish for Charlton against Bristol City on Saturday. 

The Frenchman’s blistering strike, two minutes after the break, lit the touch-paper for an action-packed second-half as the Addicks comfortably beat their already relegated visitors. 

Kermorgant then thumped home a header four minutes later to double the lead  before Bobby Reid’s lob put the Robins on the scoresheet on the hour. 

Charlton would not be denied on the final day, though, as late goals from Jonathan Obika and Johnnie Jackson completed the win. 

But Kermorgant was denied a hat-trick by the slimmest of margins as his superbly executed chip from the edge of the box hit the bar 11 minutes from time, with Obika following up to nod home a third goal in as many Valley matches – and all at The Covered End. 

Jackson then reclaimed his top-scorer’s mantle five minutes from time by turning home a low cross from Bradley Pritchard to end the season in style. 

The result saw the Addicks enter the summer as the form team in the Championship having won their last four games at home and remained unbeaten in their last eight fixtures. 

And a ninth place finish exceeded all expectations in a campaign of peaks and troughs which epitomised exactly the fortunes of all 23 of their rivals in a season that will go down as the craziest in living memory. 

While the Addicks could not reach the play-offs and City were already doomed, the game was played in a backdrop of serenity with much more at stake in divisional matches up and down the country - but it veered from the subdued to the sublime in six magical minutes. 

At half-time it was 0-0 and, to coin a phrase, lucky to be that, after a game that had that ‘last of the season’ feel to it. 

So the fans in attendance would have no doubt yielded much entertainment from the 2012/13 Goal of the Season competition as the eight elite strikes from the past nine months were unveiled on the Big Screen. 

And the shortlist had scarcely left the screen before Kermorgant, not among the octet incidentally, announced his intentions to win it for a second successive, with his late entry. 

He had won the mythical seasonal accolade last term with an outrageous volleyed finish on the final day of last season in front of The Covered End – and was at it again here. 

This was better too, for a variety of reasons. 

It emanated deep in Addicks territory and a move from the edge of the box swept forward with the back-end a glorious clipped centre from Mark Gower. 

Then it was a case of ‘Voila’ from the volley specialist as the Frenchman struck the ball flush and watched it rocket past Tom Heaton and in. Formidable! 
His towering header, moments later, was as impressive as it was different and laid the foundations for possibly a first treble for the hugely popular frontman. 

And even Obika would have sacrificed his strike to see Kermorgant’s chip of outrageous proportions just dip a few millimetres lower and complete which would arguably have been the finest hat-trick ever seen in these parts. 

Two would be enough, however as Obika and Jackson got in the on the ac to cap a hugely encouraging first season back in the second tier. 

There was little to entertain the crowd in the opening period with chances rare and the most notable incident was an early injury to Rhoys Wiggins that forced him out of the game after just 15 minutes. 

After the reshuffle, which saw Solly switch flanks, neither goalkeeper was seriously tested until the break – but things changed completely in an incident-packed second period. 

First Kermorgant blasted home an unstoppable volley from a Gower centre and then the big Frenchman thundered home a header four minutes later after great work by stand-in left-back Chris Solly to complete a phenomenal four-minute double. 

City hit back after Morrison’s mistake let in Reid to lob home with David Button injured as he desperately tried to keep the ball out, leading to him being replaced by youngster Nick Pope for the closing stages. 

The rookie, playing at Ryman League Bury Town just two seasons ago, would keep a clean sheet in his unexpected cameo as Louis Carey spooned a glorious chance to level over the bar, and the  Addicks wrapped up a convincing win in the final 11 minutes. 

Obika followed up to head home after Kermorgant’s sumptuous chip crashed against the bar, and after Morrison was denied a certain goal by a brave block from Joe Bryan after sub Scott Wagstaff had an effort cleared off the line, skipper Jackson completed the four-score. 

It owed much to selfless play from Bradley Pritchard, who collected yet another assist by sacrificing the chance of a fourth goal of the season and rolling the ball across goal for Jackson to claim a tap-in. 

Having seen his lead at the top of the club’s scoring charts wiped out by Kermorgant’s 10th and 11th goals of the season at the start of the second period, the skipper would end the season on top with a round dozen to his name, the same tally as last season. 

And 39 goals for the club is a fine return for a midfielder who admitted before the game he was playing the best football of his life here in SE7. 

There was a late debate between him and Kermorgant after a late free-kick was awarded some 20 yards out, but treble-seeking Yann got the nod and found the wall as the hosts had to settle for four. 

Nonetheless it was a final day flourish for Chris Powell’s side at the end of a superb first season back in the Championship and the feel-good factor in these parts shows no sign of relenting. 

In terms of team news, David Button returned between the posts for the final fixture of the season against Bristol City. 

The keeper replaced Ben Hamer, who picked up a hip injury at Middlesbrough last weekend and Button’s elevation means there was a place on the bench for youngster Pope. 

There was also a return to the side after injury for skipper Jackson while Gower also made a first Valley start and Tottenham Hotspur loanee Obika was also selected. 

Button was between the posts behind an unchanged backline which had Solly and Rhoys Wiggins flanking Morrison and Dorian Dervite while Jackson and Gower were paired together in central midfield with Pritchard and Callum Harriott out wide. 

Having netted from the bench in the 90th minute in his last two SE7 fixtures, Obika was handed just a second start for the club up front where he joined Kermorgant. 

Youngster Pope was joined on the bench by Matt Taylor, Andy Hughes, Salim Kerkar, Lawrie Wilson, Wagstaff and Danny Haynes. 

Just pride was at stake for relegated Bristol City and Shaun O’Driscoll made a clutch of changes for their Championship finale. 

Sam Baldock led the line and there was also a starting place up front for birthday boy Ryan Taylor, who turned 25 on the afternoon, while former Liverpool youngster Paul Anderson was also a man to watch. 

Obika glanced an early header wide as sunshine broke through the grey clouds following a pre-match smattering of rain and Jackson slashed wide on the half volley as the clock reached six. 

Kermorgant rose to head a Gower comer wide three minutes later but there was disappointment on the quarter hour as Wiggins, having pulled up chasing Bobby Reid down the far side, was unable to continue. 

The left-back, a real feature in the club’s fine recent form, limped off with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Wilson. He slotted in at right-back as Solly switched to the left. 

Although the visitors were probing, Button had little to do, and it was the Addicks that were breaking with more purpose, evidenced when Jackson’s neat lay-off sent Harriott scampering into space. 

The winger opted to shoot on goal, but his dipper few wide as Kermorgant’s shouts to his left were ignored. 

Gower was booked after ending a slaloming run from Greg Cunningham and Pritchard, stationed in the wall, blocked Baldock’s low set-piece. 

Jackson looped a header over in the last regulation while Button gathered a tame low effort from Anderson in stoppage time, what was the first save of either keeper. It was that sort of game. 

But things changed at the start of the second half in magnificent fashion as Kermorgant scored a goal to savour. 

The Frenchman slammed home a magical volley from an equally sublime centre from Gower on the right. 

But there was much to admire in the build-up as Morrison bravely won a challenge with Joe Bryan which teed up a swift and incisive break. 

And the finish was magnifique, a volley plucked straight out of the top draw and one that may well yet challenge for goal of the season, on a day the where the eight contenders may well have swelled to nine. 

Obika dragged a shot wide moments later before Kermorgant doubled the lead in terrific fashion on 51 minutes. 

Harriott got the crowd on their feet with some fine trickery on the left and weighted a fine pass to the overlapping Solly. 

His cross was a peach and there was the big Frenchman to rise superbly and thump home a header. 

Out of nothing the Addicks were in firm command of proceedings and Baldock was quickly replaced by Albert Adomah as the shell-shocked Robins tried to reply. 

Neil Kilkenny’s dangerous-looking free-kick flew well wide and Reid glanced a header across goal while at the other end Jackson’s corner was flicked on by Dervite with Pritchard and Morrison just failing to connect in the middle. 

City did pull a goal back on the hour through Reid, however. 

The midfielder capitalised on a slip from Morrison as the defender failed to deal with a hoisted ball forward and supplied a neat lob with Button’s desperate attempts to save failed as he landed heavily in the back of the net. 

The big keeper looked in some discomfort in the ensuing moments with Pope readied on the touchline before putting his bench coat back on. 

The impressive Reid shot wide on the run, and was then denied low by Button which proved to the keeper’s final contribution as he was replaced by Pope on 71 minutes. 

Adomah dragged a shot wide to render Pope’s first senior touch a goal-kick and Carey wasted a glorious chance to level 15 minutes from time following a low free-kick. 

Kilkenny picked out the centre-back, but he produced a centre-backs finish as he scooped high over the bar with the goal at his mercy. 

Kermorgant fired a bouncing bomb wide from the edge of the box before Harriott was replaced by Wagstaff 11 minutes from time. 

And the natives didn’t have long to wait for Charlton’s third goal as it arrived mere seconds later. 

Kermorgant was millimetres away from claiming his hat-trick after a sublime chip from the edge of the box beat Heaton all ends up but crashed against the bar. 

Luckily for the hosts, Obika was following up and headed home his third goal in as many Valley games. 

Wilson was booked for a foul on the edge of the box with the free-kick looping up and being cleared before Taylor made way for Wes Burns. 

But the Addicks were on the mark again five minutes from time with Jackson making it 12 goals for the season. 

It owed much to some selfless work from Pritchard who was released down the right and unselfishly rolled the ball across goal for Jackson to steer home from closer range. 

The skipper edged back in front in the goalscoring charts as the SE7 party really started to click into gear. 

There was another Kermorgant treble chance on 88 minutes after Wagstaff was fouled and a free-kick was awarded in dangerous range. 

His free-kick looped up off the wall and wide, however, but there was a chance from the corner as Wagstaff was denied on the line and then, following an almighty scramble, Morrison was somehow denied by Bryan. 

Kermorgant’s overhead effort flew wide in added time, of which there was three minutes and a breathless 45 minutes ended with the Addicks still on the offensive as their season ended in fine fashion. 

Charlton: Button (Pope 71); Solly, Wiggins (Wilson 15), Dervite, Morrison; Pritchard, Gower, Jackson, Harriott (Wagstaff 79); Obika, Kermorgant. 

Subs (not used): Taylor, Hughes, Kerkar, Haynes. 

Goals: Kermorgant 47, 51, Obika 79, Jackson 85 

Booked: Gower 40 (foul on Cunningham), Wilson 82 
    
Bristol City: Heaton;  Anderson, Cunningham, Fontaine, Nyatanga, Louis Carey; Bryan, Reid, Kilkenny (Ajala 86), Baldock (Adomah 52), Taylor (Burns 83) 

Subs (not used): Lewis Carey, Foster, Kelly, Elliott. 

Goal: Reid 64 

Referee: C Berry 

Att: 18,981 (699 Bristol City) 

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