After falling to their first defeat of the season last week against Ipswich Town, the pressure was on to return to winning ways against a Charlton Athletic team that sat in 2nd place in the Southern section of the league.
There was no predictably (yet disappointingly) no place in the Addicks team for Bolton Wanderers target Igor Vetokele, however our team was conspicuous by the absence of Jamie Thomas and Alex Samizadeh, the latter of which scored our consolation goal last week.
Instead there were starts for Kaiyne Woolery on the back of his bench appearance on the weekend and George Newell. Tom Walker was at the tip of a midfield diamond, flanked either side by Alex Perry and Liam Trotter. Medo sat deepest with a makeshift back four of Jordan Lussey, Rob Holding, Filip Twardzik and Niall Maher behind him.
The game started with quite a few tasty challenges. Firstly, Walker made a great tackle on Ezri Konso but the Charlton centre back had to receive treatment. Then Ollie Muldoon, obviously seething with his teammates injury, just lunged in on Walker a couple of minutes later, before Maher made an equally bad tackle on their right winger. Astonishingly they both avoided bookings.
Charlton had the first real chance on 11 minutes when Ademola Lookman flashed a shot just wide after a wonderful through-ball. It was quite a end-to-end start and Woolery made an outstanding run down the left-hand side, completely leaving his full-back for dust before working the ball across the six-yard-box. Somehow though, Trotter blazed over.
Woolery's pace is frightening and it became a great weapon as the half drew on and we took the game to the Londoners. He had the beating of his man wherever he was playing on the pitch and he created a chance for Perry which was just deflected over. From the resulting corner, a lovely delivery by Walker was looped onto the crossbar via Holding's head.
Medo was breaking up play very effectively but whenever he was tasked with passing the ball forward, it was cut out by the defender nine times out of ten. Twardzik looked the most comfortable that I've ever seen him at centre-back making a few crucial slide tackles and getting attacks started with his passing. (Now I've said that, expect Lennon to play him in a back three and do horrendously.)
Then the most unlikely duo to have a lovely spot of one-touch football - Medo and Trotter - did just that in the 27th minute and found Walker who curled his shot narrowly wide. We kept the relentless pressure up and eventually it paid off, the tricky Woolery again found Newell, Dimitar Mitov made an outstanding point-blank save but the rebound fell to Trotter who made no mistake this time.
Charlton coach Jason Euell was getting very animated on the touchline over his side's lack of chances in the opening period and they could only really muster a half-chance; Muldoon fizzing a shot safely into the arms of Fitzsimons from distance.
On the stroke of half-time, we doubled our lead. Woolery won a free kick on the right and Walker delivered a superb crossed free-kick which Holding ran onto, heading beyond the goalkeeper. After half-time, previous goalscorer Rob Holding was almost punished when his weak passback was picked off easily but Charlton's effort was quite pathetic.
Liam Trotter was showing absolutely no bite or aggression in his game letting several 60-40 balls run loose but he was involved in another one-touch move on 58 minutes, passing to Newell, who picked out Lussey, but the makeshift right-back hit it straight at the keeper.
Filip Twardzik, who had an impressive first half, seemed more away with the fairies in the second half, often being caught in possession but in fairness he usually recovered well. Medo was also growing into the game with a lot more of his through-balls being successful.
Jamie Thomas and Jon Ceberio took to the field in place of George Newell and Tom Walker respectively and both combined to almost score on 76 minutes. Thomas played a lovely ball through to Ceberio but the spaniard somewhat spooned his effort, Thomas continued his run though and the ball was played back in for him in the centre but he should have done better.
Next came the player I was most excited about seeing. Alex Samizadeh. The 16-year-old Iranian looked just as young as his age would suggest but he played with a great tenacity and "bulldog-like approach" similar to one Carlos Tevez.
Ross Fitzsimons on the other hand, made an absolutely bonkers mistake, charging out of his box like a young Rene Higuita and getting dispossessed, Twardzik saved the day though (never thought I'd say that) getting back and putting some pressure on their striker, allowing Fitzsimons to recover and make a save. We then counter-attacked at pace with the ball falling to Samizadeh who found Thomas with a through-ball and forced a decent save from their keeper.
Despite our domination, we couldn't keep our clean sheet. In the 90th minute, Lussey misread a ball over the top and Josh Stanton finished on the half volley with aplomb. Twardzik then provided some last gasp entertainment when Fitzsimons came to collect a relatively easy cross and he headed it narrowly wide instead. However we managed to hold on for a very deserved victory.