Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Charlton Athletic 2 v Reading 1

Charlton progressed to the second round of the Carling Cup this evening in an entertaining game at the Valley that sent the vast majority of the 6,668 gate home happy (I'd say there were 450 Reading).

It's fair to say that Reading were not at full strength having made five or six changes. However, Charlton started with a full eleven swap from that which ran out against Scunthorpe and I believe we had another seven full debuts (inc Euell second-time around). Predictably enough, Ben Hamer started in goal for the first time and he made three good saves during the match. His full-stretch finger-tip save to prevent Reading from scoring in the top corner during the first half being the pick. In front of him it was Evina, Doherty, Mambo and Francis. Evina looked very comfortable on the ball throughout and will press Rhoys Wiggins for the first-choice at left-back. His performance was eclipsed by that of Simon Francis. Francis has taken a lot of stick, most of it deserved, but he turned down the chance of a fresh start in the Summer to make a go of it at Charlton and I personally wish him all the best after a storming performance that set the tone for the rest of the side. There was a great moment in the second-half when he broke up a Reading attack in the box, lead the charge out and played a good ball over the top which drew an appreciative roar from the Valley faithful. Doherty and Mambo were solid enough despite a rocky opening fifteen minutes when the scoreline might have read 3-3.

In midfield, Danny Green was another expected starter as was Bover-Isquierdo but the central pairing of Pritchard and Hughes was quite a surprise. As we already know, Hughes isn't a large player and I envisaged him being signed as a versatile defensive player. To find him expected to hold it together with the inexperienced and diminutive Pritchard looked a tall order. They didn't have it all their own way but with excellent support from Bover-Isquierdo and Green, they did a good enough job and Wagstaff effectively made it a five-man midfield when he came on for the injured Benson around the hour mark.

That meant Benson and Euell upfront and whilst they aren't going to get us out of League One, both scored this evening and neither could be faulted for their work-rate although both missed glorious chances to have scored before either did. 

The game itself was frantic from the off and Reading carved us open twice in the first three minutes, although Danny Green should have opened the scoring early on with Charlton's first chance when an excellent move gave him an opportunity in the box. He took a touch, danced inside the covering defender and only had to hit the target but fired wide. Benson then missed from a similar distance and Jason Euell picked up a back-header and went one-on-one with McCarthy and saw his low shot cannon of McCarthy's foot. Reading faded after the opening twenty and we were good value for 1-0 at the interval.

After the break we continued to take the game to Reading and whilst there were mistakes from both sides, the pace of the game was good and both teams looked to attack when they had the ball. The excitement got through to the Charlton fans and the atmosphere was quite stirring at times for such a small gate. After Wagstaff came on for Benson it meant Jason Euell was playing the lone striker but he took full advantage to get on the end of a near post cross and adjusted himself beautifully to take what was a lowish ball and steer it beyond McCarthy. We looked home and dry but on 70 minutes we lost the limping Doherty and Michael Morrison came into central defence. From the ensuing corner the ball fell to Morrsion who couldn't clear and it was knocked into the centre and swept home from close range. Two-one and the nerves were momentarily jangled but Charlton survived fiften minutes of Royals pressure and several desperate headers before we broke the stranglehold and again took the ball into the Reading half with purpose. Green and Wagstaff provided the running and Bover-Izquierdo managed to strike a post after a good burst into the box and loosing off a shot. Chris Solly came on at the end and we managed to play our four minutes of added time without any incident. 

I am not a fan of fielding significantly weakened teams and it won't win you too many games but today was an exception and for £10 (£5 for concessions), there won't be many who would argue we didn't get value-for-money.

1 comment:

ChicagoAddick said...

Sounded a thoroughly entertaining game and makes me even more pissed off I missed it first time around although I suspect the line up might have been quite different.

As someone once said winning is a habit and as Curbs used to say annually, this is a cup we could win :-)