SWANNY'S MATCH VERDICT: Posh 2, Charlton 0: Maddison's '˜Mickelson moment' as he spanks Charlton and his critics
There are some who would place Marcus Maddison behind Peter Burrow and Dan the groundsman in a list of most valuable employees at Peterborough United.
But, while the club mascot appears popular among adolescents and the ABAX stadium surface is among the best in League One, they are clearly fools, the sort who think Twitter is a place where the intelligent gather for cutting-edge post-match debate and relevant analysis.
This game was drifting towards a mediocre match rating when Maddison, who had laboured without reward for over an hour, was switched exclusively to the wing, a move that a player who operates best in the wide open clearly fancied. Within minutes he’d delivered the superb right-wing cross that enabled substitute Martin Samuelsen to claim his first goal of the season with a powerful close-range header before supplying the moment which must have had the anti-Maddison brigade snapping their crayons in despair.
A 20-yard run, a couple of step overs and then a quite breath-taking dink over a stranded goalkeeper which nestled into the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar. Maddison was inside the area and with very little margin for error when caressing the ball home. Phil Mickelson will have golf viewers salivating when he acts with such precision at the Masters next week.
It was a moment of magic from ‘Marmite’ Maddison, who would surely lose that tag once he realises football rather than RADA is his natural calling, and sealed back-to-back League One wins for Posh for the first time since December, when Charlton were again among the victims.
Of course every day is April Fools’ Day at Charlton. Unpopular owners and a manager in Karl Robinson who talks a far better game than he delivers, the Londoners find themselves in a relegation battle for the second successive season, a fact their loud travelling support realised as they vented their anger at the visiting seats in the director’s box, Robinson (he doesn’t know what he’s doing apparently) and hapless striker Lee Novak.
After the match, Robinson admitted he felt ‘fortunate and excited’ to be manager of Charlton before claiming the club were still ‘in transition’ 11 months after leaving the Championship and five months after his appointment. It wasn’t a comfortable conversation as finishing above Shrewsbury and Swindon is now the club’s sole remaining aim this season.
In contrast Posh manager Grant McCann looked more relaxed than in recent weeks when he arrived to face the four pressmen sent to cover the match. He lauded Maddison (’a top League One talent’), singled out Jack Baldwin for praise (‘an inspiring pro’) and even found time to tick off Craig Mackail-Smith’s better half for keeping the striker up at night, (‘to feed the baby’, he added by way of clarification).
McCann deserves praise for opening up a scrappy game stifled by two midfield diamonds and will get more praise when he gets to the bottom of captain Chris Forrester’s slump in form. There’s now a chance of a top-half finish for the first time in three seasons, a small consolation prize, but one that would at least stop those who love to remind the chairman that final league position has worsened in each of the last five campaigns.
Obviously the negative nellies will find something else to use as bait. A quick glance at social media after this game showed those who moaned at Maddison for an hour had switched their attention to Leo Da Silva Lopes and Tom Nichols by the end of the game as lord forbid they find anything positive on which to comment.
It was a poor game for an hour when the defensive commitment of Baldwin and Michael Bostwick was required to protect Luke McGee’s goal. Bostwick’s last-gasp challenge to thwart Novak after a terrific Charlton passing move on 17 minutes was a remarkable effort, while Baldwin’s excellent all-round display shouldn’t be overshadowed completely by Maddison-inspired events late in the day.
With Mackail-Smith starting on the bench, neither side had forwards happy to run in behind so space (although the workrate or Junior Morias probably earned him a few more fans) was at a premium.
Maddison’s volley after a neat pass from Da Silva Lopes was the best Posh effort of the first-half, even if goalkeeper Declan Rudd’s save was rather more spectacular than necessary.
Mackail-Smith’s arrival on the hour for Tom Nichols sparked Posh into action and they were the better side in the final quarter with Maddison proving the difference.
And after spanking Charlton, Maddison spanked his critics during a post-match interview which covered his best Posh goal (‘I’ll have to think about that, I have scored some good ones’) and Millwall fans (‘the most abuse I’ve had in a 45-minute spell).
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Jerome Binnom-Williams (for Andrew Hughes, 76 mins), Jack Baldwin, Michael Bostwick, Anthony Grant, Chris Forrester (sub Martin Samuelsen, 73 mins), Leo Da Silva Lopes, Marcus Maddison, Junior Morias, Tom Nichols (sub Craig Mackail-Smith, 60 mins). Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Brad Inman, Callum Chettle, Andrea Borg.
Charlton: Declan Rudd, Nathan Byrne, Adam Chickesn, Fredrik Ulvestad, Jorge Teixeira, Patrick Bauer, Johnnie Jackson (sub Andrew Crofts, 66 mins), Jake Forster-Caskey, Ricky Holmes, Lee Novak (sub Jordan Botaka, 73 mins), Tony Watt (sub Josh Magennis, 66 mins). Unused substitutes: Dillon Phillips, Jason Pearce, Joe Aribom, Jay Dasilva.
Goals: Posh - Samuelsen (76 mins), Maddison (84 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Morias (dissent).
Charlton - Byrne (foul), Bauer (foul).
Referee: Graham Salisbury 5
Attendance: 5,482 (716 Charlton).