There is definitely something about the Play-Offs. There is no more satisfying way to experience being promoted than through the annual end of season fight for promotion, which Swindon have previously won in 3 of 4 attempts. Whilst we are not in the Championship just yet, we now are potentially 90 minutes away from the second tier of English football for the first time in 10 seasons.
Last night was a rollercoaster ride of such a wide range of emotions that I’ve only recently experienced, as well as becoming accustomed to, watching England in the World Cup or Euro Finals.
It was always going to be tough and I by no means thought the game was over after the first leg with such a slender single goal advantage. But I couldn’t prepare myself for what I, all other Town fans and of course Charlton supporters experienced during those 120 minutes and more.
Drama, guile and determination were evident in this classic encounter with Charlton Athletic at The Valley. What a game. It was full of nervy and edge of your seat moments for the whole match.
Lets face it, it is undeniable that Charlton were dominant, but how can Town rob / stun Charlton, depending on your point of view, that extra time victory on penalties after what preceded?
We lost first choice keeper David Lucas to injury after only 1 minute. We came back from the potential abyss after being 2 goals down at half time. A man down for a significant chunk of the second half after Gordon Greer’s fine black belt karate kick and follow through on Deon Burton which sees him miss the final. Smith’s fine and timely saves from the 20 Charlton shots on target, as well as the others agonisingly, for Addicks fans at least, just past the post and not to forgot the others that hit the woodwork. How didn’t the dominant Charlton score more to finish the game?
So it all changed after a persistent Swindon got the deserved goal back from a nonchalant and compossed effort from ever improving Danny Ward, sent me and the others watching in the Legends Lounge wild. We were back in the game after it had been looking as if despite our pressure our luck just had deserted us. Even though Greer was sent-off it seemed to inspire the team. Then after Charlton stepped up the pressure leading up the the dying minutes of regulation time, the sending off of Llera evened up to 10 men each, but importantly removed Llera, who of course scored the last minute equaliser back on Boxing Day.
Extra time couldn’t separate the teams. Town were backs against the wall for most of the extra 30 minutes with the tiring Austin leading the line as best he could. If only we could have had that extra outfield substitution that we lost when Smith replaced Lucas.
When the referee blew the final whistle at the end of extra time I was so relieved we overcame the Charlton pressure and heart stopping moments, but now we headed into the unknown and lottery of the penalty shoot out. Would it be the goalkeepers to the rescue or will the taker bottle under the pressure?
I won’t go into detail about the penalties as you can probably real-off all the takers in order right now, but I think it’s best shown from the perspective, reactions and emotions of both fans through these Youtube clips. Firstly dejected Charlton fans behind the goal where they were taken, secondly the contrasting view, jubilation and pandemonium from the Swindon end. Brilliant!
So after an amazing game Town progress to the Wembley final on May 29th and will meet Millwall or Huddersfield. Right now I don’t care who we may play! Well done Swindon, well done the squad and Danny Wilson for inspiring the team and the town. Come on You Reds on your march to the Championship! If Poxford can get promoted….so can we!