BY LOUIS MENDEZ
There is a wealth of research that clubs put into opposition penalty-takers these days – but Charlton play-off semi-final hero Dillon Phillips prefers to trust his instincts.
The Addicks goalkeeper guessed the right way to deny South London boy John Marquis during the penalty shoot-out victory on Friday evening.
Tommy Rowe then sent Rovers’ next spot-kick wide as Charlton progressed to take on Sunderland in Sunday’s League One play-off final at Wembley.
Goalkeeping coach Andy Marshall will have done his homework on where Doncaster’s penalty-takers were likely to aim for.
But Phillips wasn’t interested.
“Earlier on in the season I conceded a penalty against Peterborough and we worked it out he’d be going a certain way,” explained Phillips.
“He went the complete opposite way.
“I said to Marsh before the Plymouth game that I don’t want to know where they’ve been, or where you think they’re going to go. Let me just go with my instinct.
“We do penalties at the training ground quite often. I fancy myself to save a penalty whoever I’m facing. I was lucky that I went the right way for one of them. Marshy asked me ‘do you want the information?’ and I just said ‘I don’t want to know.’ I just went off my gut instinct.
“I don’t think you really think about [becoming a hero] to be honest. It was penalties. I was saying to the lads in the huddle that everyone has just got to believe in each other.
“When you take a pen, you’ve got to believe that you’re going to score. If you’ve got any negative thoughts, you’re not going to score. I believed that I’d save one. I went the right way for one and luckily enough it was a poor penalty. I’m over the moon and all the lads are as well.”
The drama was played out in front of Charlton’s biggest crowd since 2012 – 25,428.
“It was a different atmosphere to what we’ve had all season,” said Phillips. “It’s been good, but it’s not quite been that good.
“At times it probably made us not play as well as we can. I don’t think we played as well as we can today, but at the end of the day we’ve got the result that we wanted and we’re through to the final.
“There’s one step to go now. All pull together and hopefully we can do that.”
Charlton will take on Sunderland for a place in the Championship – the Addicks hoping to end a three-year exile from the second-tier of English league football.
“There’s pressure on everyone, playing in front of a big crowd at Wembley,” said Phillips. “Both teams have got the same goal. It’s one game at the end of the day. I believe that we’re good enough to beat them and go through. I don’t see why not.
“All week, I’ve watched all the games and thought the celebrations were so good but none of the teams have actually achieved anything. “But in the heat of the moment, it’s hard not to celebrate.
“I respected the way Sunderland celebrated on Thursday, it was clapping the fans and off you get. Let’s go again. But when you win like that, it’s hard not to [celebrate].
“We’re jumping around like lunatics, but we’re buzzing.”
MAIN PICTURE BY PAUL EDWARDS