Sunday, 29 December 2013

Charlton Athletic 1 v Sheffield Wednesday 1

Well, first thing's first, Roland Duchatelet wasn't introduced saviour-like on the pitch prior to the match today and it looks like negotiations concerning our sale are ongoing. If he was present today then he probably left as disappointed as the rest of us. 

The feel-good factor seemed to disappear with the team line-up. The best-choice back four was broken again after only a few matches together. Solly and Wiggins were out and raider Wilson was back at right back and Cedric Evina back down the flank at left bank. If that wasn't enough disruption, space was found to accommodate the returning Jackson in central midfield but why was Stephens put on the wing? Cammie Stewart retained the left wing and it was Church and Kermogant up front. It didn't work. 

It was a generally poor game in which we struggled to create goalscoring opportunities throughout. Wednesday showed more adventure, especially after the lurch Nuhiu came on to provide a towering partnership with Connor Wickham in the second-half. 

The first-half was pretty uneventful and I can't remember us making Kirkland save anything. He had to shepherd a deflected cross over the bar but that was it. Yann Kermorgant tried but too often he went down looking for free-kicks and Frederick Graham was having none of it. He made Kermorgant get up at one point and told him he wasn't going to conned. Simon Church was less involved than of late and seemed to prefer picking the ball up on the grassy flanks rather than plough a furrow in the sticking middle.

We saw little of Jackson first-half and I only really noticed him colliding with our players in the second. Wood and Morrison were kept busy clearing balls in and keeping tabs on Connor Wickham who was a handful. Evina and Wilson were tidy enough but presented very little across the half-way line and the link-up play was well short of what we managed against Brighton with Solly and Wiggins at the back.

After the break we managed to score within two minutes. Wilson took a throw-in deep in the Wednesday half and found Stephens unmarked and in space. Dale seized the ball and ran on into the box. There was still no challenge and it was only as he shaped to shoot that Wednesday player came flying in. Stephens anticipated it and side-stepped the slider which brought him squarer on goal and left him an easy finish one-on-one against Kirkland. 

Suddenly there was hope of a prolonged rally and a second goal but it didn't come and Wednesday began to press forward in search of an equaliser. They were winning corners and were first to most of the 50/50's. Atdhe Nuhiu was launched on 55 minutes and from then on we were defending our lead and it didn't last long. Nuhui won a header outside the box on their right and took two Charlton challengers out as he flicked on. The ball was picked up by an advancing Wednesday player and there was panic in our defence as we threw men at it and I think Alnwick parried one as well but it eventually quirked out to Wickham in the six yard box and he had a tap-in to level.

We survived a good penalty shout after that and as the pressure continued, Chris Powell decided it was time to hang on to the point. He may argue that more height was needed against Wickham and Nuhiu but bringing Dervite on for an outfield player is what he has done in the last two games to secure points and he did it again today on 73 minutes. I wasn't impressed but it might have got us something we may have lost otherwise. Green also came on at the same time for the ineffective Jackson and whilst he provided a welcome outlet, there wasn't much to aim at in front of him. With four minutes of added time, Wednesday flashed a ball through a crowded Charlton six yard area but no-one could get a touch on it. At the end we had a chance to win it on the break when the ball fell to Simon Church in space and Kirkland scrambling to cover his left-side. All that was needed was a firm shot on target but Church lashed at the shot and it cleared the bar. It would have been hard on Wednesday and we had already taken a point we barely deserved. 

CP will no doubt tell us we are unbeaten in three and he is looking for an unbroken run but this was an opportunity to pick up three points against one of the division's strugglers and we missed it. Ipswich on New Year's Day will be tough and then I expect most of our first-teamers to be rested for Oxford at the Valley in the F A Cup on Saturday along with the East Stand and whoever else won't be making an appearance because of our decision in recent seasons not to prioritise Cup matches.

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