Stephens comes good for Charlton to dispel my doubts

Dale Stephens. PICTURE BY KEITH GILLARD.

Dale Stephens. PICTURE BY KEITH GILLARD.

First published in Sport
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DALE Stephens’ quality finish and performance at Blackburn wins praise from one-time critic MATIAS GREZ in his weekly Charlton blog.

SATURDAY’S win over Blackburn was one of Charlton’s most impressive performances of the season so far.

Having started 2013 with two league wins in a row, the pressure was on the team to make it three successive victories for the first time since mid-November.

And they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The performance as a whole was extremely pleasing, with Chris Powell’s 4-5-1 formation continuing to work a treat.

Every player on the pitch, whether they were starting or coming on as a substitution, knew what their role was and carried it out to perfection.

At times, like during the Blackpool game, it was a frustrating game to watch as the Addicks went for long periods without getting near the ball.

This 4-5-1 formation forces the team to play as the away side, whether at The Valley or on the road, but requires a lot of concentration and mental strength.

This mental strength was no more so on display than when Jordan Rhodes equalised early in the second half and the team, which would have crumbled under the pressure earlier this season, showed a grittiness that has been at the core of their recent successes.

As frustrating as these away team performances can be, I’m sure any Charlton fan would take a few more of them if it means we are able to record a few more wins.

Individually speaking, yet again Yann Kermorgant was absolutely outstanding up front on his own and was rewarded with his hard work and selflessness with a more than deserved goal.

One player I was extremely happy for was Dale Stephens.

This season I’ve been the first to get on his back after a string of poor performances which, in my opinion, hasn’t seen him play well since before his ankle injury in December 2011.

As frustrating as he has been at times, everybody knows he has a talent which maybe hasn’t been seen often enough.

People have pointed to his head being turned by Aston Villa in the summer, but his solid performance against Blackburn on Saturday might just prove to be a turning point in his season.

Matt Taylor and Michael Morrison’s partnership in central defence is beginning to look as formidable as it did last season.

Since Taylor has returned from the foot injury which kept him sidelined for almost half of the season, he’s brought with him an assurance which has improved the performances of the entire backline.

With Danny Haynes soon to be back from injury, some people have argued an injection of speed into the frontline is required, and also somebody to support Yann.

However, it would take a brave man to try and convince Powell to change this winning formula he has unearthed.

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