Johnnie Jackson praised the tangible unison between his squad and the Charlton faithful after the Addicks registered a 2-0 victory over table-toppers Plymouth Argyle in a thrilling encounter in front of a bumper Valley crowd.
Ben Purrington continued his prolific form in front of goal, breaking the deadlock on 61 minutes before Conor Washington added a second six minutes from time to extend Jackson’s remarkable record as Caretaker Manager and inflict a first league reverse in 17 games for Ryan Lowe’s side in the process.
“I’m really pleased, I thought today was probably the best performance yet from my team,” Jackson told CharltonTV. “I thought it had a little bit of everything. Plymouth are a good side, they’re top of the league for a reason and haven’t lost since the opening-day. We knew we’d be in a real tough game and they posed us problems but I thought we matched them. I thought it was two good teams going at it. We’ve come out on top. I just can’t ask any more of my lads - what they’re giving me on that football pitch at the minute… I’m very proud of them.
“I know what this place is like when it’s full and it’s bouncing,” he continued. “We were excited for today because we knew obviously that we had sold so many tickets and that it was going to be full. I just said to the lads, ‘you need to feed into it’. And I said to them after there, ‘this place is special when it gets going and you give them something you cling to then they get behind you and they can drive you forward and they can drive you up the league’. The unison between the players and the supporters is something that I think can be unique to this football club and at the minute we’ve got that and it’s a special combination.”
The Caretaker Manager admitted his players revelled in the bouncing SE7 atmosphere, with many witnessing it for the first time on Saturday, while also lauding the harmony among his squad.
“A lot of the boys joined when there was no crowd and that was a difficult period because it’s a big old stadium with no people in and that makes football difficult,” added the 39-year-old. “When you compare that to what they witnessed today there’s nothing like a packed Valley and now they believe me. This is what the crowd and the players are capable of when it all goes hand in hand. Now they should believe that they’re capable of good things because they’ve just beaten the league leaders who are unbeaten in god knows how long. And they’ve beat them well.
“I believe in these players, I believe in these supporters and I believe in this football club. We can do something special together, I truly believe that. I know what can happen. The players have set a standard now and they can’t come off it because they’ll be cheating themselves if they do. The people that come into the team have to be ready and the lads that aren’t involved, the support that they’re giving their team-mates on the pitch is incredible. All of a sudden we’ve got a wonderful team spirit. Lads who are not even in the squad are here today, they’re in the changing room high-fiving their mates - that’s what good things are built on because you need all your men pulling in the right direction and that’s what we’re getting.”
Jackson concluded by providing an update on club captain Jason Pearce, who was forced off on 55 minutes with a knee injury.
“Too early to say, I very much hope that it’s not serious,” he explained. “The skipper has been absolutely outstanding for me. I think he’s led by example, none more so than today; at half-time he’s feeling his knee and he says to me, ‘I want to give it a go, but if it’s not right I’ll hold my hand up. I don’t want to put the team at risk’... which is what he has done. That’s Jason Pearce for you - team first.
“Then Chris Gunter comes on and he’s ready, and this is what I’m talking about. We’ve got a group of lads there that are all pulling in the right direction and fighting for each other.”