The majority of us no doubt suspected the corner was anything but turned after Fulham followed the impressive home victory against QPR with an equally unimpressive result just a few days later with the visit of Wolves.
The following Sunday, and with another London derby looming at The Valley against Charlton, we had an excellent chance of going into the international break with a positive result, only to yet again throw it away at the last minute.
More so than anything else, it was the manner of the last minute equaliser from the home team that left a 2-2 draw feeling like a defeat from the jaws of victory. Having witnessed our inability to defend set pieces, especially corners against Wolves, I think we all knew the game was anything but over at 2-0. This was also made evident by the fact that we seemed to focus more on time-wasting than anything else for the vast majority of the final 30 minutes.
It was certainly nice to see Luke Garbutt back in contention for places, but his introduction on the hour-mark only served to invite pressure rather than killing a game off that was there for the taking. Just a few weeks back, replacing Dembele with Woodrow for the final 15 minutes would have been par for the course, but such has been the improvement in the Frenchman’s hold-up play and work in recent weeks, that Woodrow did little to offer an out ball in the final third as the home side’s pressure began to build.
While replacing O’Hara with Mattila in the 90th minute may not have been the direct factor in gifting Charlton a point, it does demonstrate the need for our young manager to learn when not to to tinker with a side for the sake of it. If we are to make any progress this season, then it will come with consistency and the stability that will allow the forming of partnerships and understandings across the pitch.
The Championship is indeed a challenging league and squad rotation will always play big part in any potential success, but at the same time a preferred XI does need to be settled on sooner rather than later. The next steps for the club are to come out of the other end of this seemingly never ending transition period with a settled side that picks itself. Arguably, the business done by Kit this summer was as good as we could have hoped for, but it will all mean nothing should we be unable to settle on a team capable of gelling into a unit.
It is time that we turn our focus to winning ugly, closing games out and being confident enough in a line-up to know personnel changes are an option rather than a necessity. There will be many more learning curves for Symons in the months ahead, but hopefully the likes of Charlton away will serve as a lesson not to be repeated twice.