A sparsely populated Valley crowd this evening (a good thousand less than the official 13,468) saw a better Charlton performance than some of late but it was still some way short of top gear and we were far too weak up front to knock over a Bristol Rovers side who couldn't believe their luck.
Martin and Benson aren't a good enough front pairing to be dominating opposition defences and Parky needs to realise this quickly. Both did plenty of work and Martin ran his socks off but they are lightweight and it was only when Sodje came on towards the end that we began to knock holes in the Rovers back line and create genuine panic and opportunity.
The first-half was an improvement on recent home games as we took the game to our opponents and we limited their attacking forays. We had several goal-scoring opportunities and should have been one-up at half-time but Mikkel Andersen made a couple of good saves, especially a close range effort from Martin. Benson and Jackson slid in on another chance but Wagstaff's cross managed to avoid a touch from either which would surely have put us ahead.
Kuffour and Akinde were prowling whenever Rovers crossed the half-way line but Gary Doherty had a commanding showing and Matt Fry, Jon Fortune and Simon Francis swept up whenever Rovers managed to get beyond Racon and Semedo. Jackson and Wagstaff were busy enough on the wings but there was often little to cross for.
The second-half was much the same but it was Rovers who broke the deadlock with a well worked corner played to the near-side of the box and then slid across for Brown who had time to control the pass before drilling a low shot under Rob Elliot from 20 yards as we failed to close him down quickly enough.
Rovers almost immediately fell back as they looked to defend their lead. It invited us on and the pressure began to tell. Reid came onto the left wing as Jackson went to full-back and the impressive Matt Fry was subbed. Semedo had already limped off for McCormack and Sodje got on before the end. Our goal, when it came, was a complete mess but the just reward for the pressure we had been exerting and panic we had caused in the Rovers defence. The ball was played across the box from the right-hand side and it fell to Reid who took aim but managed to square his shot which cannoned off a Rovers defender and looked like it went in off Benson. Reid wheeled away and was credited with the goal but I can't see how he'll hang on to it.
Will Hoskins was a late substitute for Rovers and he was played in before the end but somehow managed to miss the far post when it looked easier to score. We then set about Rovers for the final ten minutes but we couldn't get another late goal. McCormack had a solid effort saved by Andersen and Martin missed the goal from ten yards with players arriving inside and square on to goal.
The draw at least preserves our recent unbeaten run and it doesn't look a bad point after the rest of the evening's results are taken into account. With Southampton and Brighton drawing and Colchester losing at home to Brentford, we stay two points clear of Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday with Huddersfield joining Colchester three points adrift in fifth and sixth.
This weekend should bring some light relief in terms of the cup. but unless we can raise our game, we could easily be beaten by a non-League Luton who will be up for it and backed by a noisy following.