Relativity is a funny thing.
When Charlton were relegated in 2007, the opening home game of the Championship season versus Scunthorpe felt like a nasty taste of cold turkey.
Now that we are back at that level via a promotion, the opening home game had a tangible sense of ‘occasion’ even despite a mildly disappointing crowd of 16,658.
By comparison our first midweek home game of the aforementioned 2007/8 season (versus Norwich) attracted a crowd of over 21,000, suggesting several thousand fans have sadly been lost during the course of the last few tumultuous years.
It’s a shame that more weren't there to see it because on last night’s evidence, there will be plenty of entertainment on show and whilst Charlton will lack the quality of some of the division’s better sides, they will more than match them for heart.
There was no doubting the quality of Charlton’s two first-half finishes though, both devastating yet from what were barely half chances.
Leicester looked shell-shocked and two half-time substitutions signalled intent, and indeed the degree to which Andy King subsequently bossed the midfield (more about that later) suggests Nigel Pearson’s team selection may have been wrong to begin with.
It was no surprise meanwhile that Jermaine Beckford did not appear for the second half after a display which bordered on the casual – a fairlytale career which seemed set to take him from non-League to Premiership stardom stalled badly once he reached the highest level, and he now barely looks Championship quality on this evidence.
The second half was one-way traffic with Charlton not carving out a single opening, whilst the Foxes created four gilt-edged chances, yet only converting one.
Had Jamie Vardy scored with a late point-blank header, few Charlton fans could have complained a draw wasn’t a fair result but given the cruel way points were lost at Birmingham, perhaps we deserved some good fortune.
The degree to which the Charlton midfield went awol in the second half must be a cause for concern however, especially with little in the way of more compelling alternatives in the squad.
Bradley Pritchard provided an energetic link between defence and attack (notably during the build-up to the opening goal), but I question whether he has the quality on the ball to make a real impact at this level – then again the same could be said of Scott Wagstaff.
The less said about the contributions of Stephens, and particularly Hollands and Jackson the better – the latter two would look slow next to a stationary vehicle, but perhaps in League One this was less of a factor. Worryingly Lawrie Wilson also looked off the pace during his late cameo.
With Kermogant and now Ricardo Fuller providing obvious outlets for a ball that bypasses the midfield entirely, perhaps we can succeed merely by being a little direct and maintaining a high tempo, but to the extent we can do some business in the final days of the window, we are desperate for some midfield back-up.
Without it I sense a midtable season, which (financial implications notwithstanding) would suit most of us just fine.
Here are my player ratings:
Hamer 8 – safe handling when called upon although his defence left him exposed at times
Solly 6 – rarely able to bomb forward, but dependable when required defensively
Wiggins 7 – great quality on the ball though went missing for Dyer’s golden second half chance
Cort 6 – at nearly 33 years old, he is slow on the turn (notably in the first half) but terrific in the air and reads the game well
Morrison 7 – looked more comfortable than his defensive partner; a vital player
Jackson 4 – I’ve never been his biggest fan, and for once at least I had some justification – virtually anonymous
Stephens 5 – great early promise at the start of last season has not been fulfilled – game went on around him in the second half
Hollands 4 – not good enough at this level I’m afraid
Pritchard 7 – as mentioned, in the team for his running (just don’t expect any moments of genius)
Kermogant 6 – won his fair share of headers and scored a great goal, but he lacks mobility to get behind defences facing goal
Wright-Phillips 8 – looked the player we all hope he could be for us this season; hard-working, pacy and devastating when called upon
Wilson, Cook, Kerkar – late substitutes