Charlton Athletic were denied what looked on paper like a routine home win against 'safe' Crewe Alexandra last night. A lex equalised with the last attack of the game in the 98th minute but the draw was no less than they deserved.
Once again we simply failed to really fire at The Valley. From the first whistle Crewe took the game to us. They carried the ball better, passed and moved better and had us hemmed in for long periods of the match. If they possessed better quality finishers it would have been over well before the end. In frustration, Nigel Adkins was forced into using all of his substitute options as he tried desperately to win the game.
Charlton, in fact, lead twice but that hid the facts that we really struggled to hold possession outside our half and chances were few and far between. The opening goal was another bullet header from the Blonde Comet, Jayden Stockley and coming early on against the run of play, you hoped it might turn our fortunes. Sadly it didn't and it was no surprise when Alex equalised.
With Chuks Aneke and Conor Washington on late in the second-half, we again managed an unlikely looking goal, this time a close Gilbey header which steered the ball past Jaaskelainen. Crewe's heads didn't drop though and they stuck to the task. In the 96th minute the again got men forward in numbers and Owen Dale struck his second of the night.
It's still in our hands but realistically, we are going to need to need seven points from our last three games and that's looking more unlikely given the way we have played in the last two home games and the quality of the opposition. By contrast, rivals Portsmouth and Oxford have relatively easy looking games that I suspect they won't let slip.
It's a disappointing position to find ourselves in after the run that culminated with the 6-0 win at Plymouth but the table doesn't lie at the end of the season and we have suddenly lost that all important momentum. There may well be a twist or turn but we suddenly look to have a mountain to climb. We certainly can't survive another performance like last night or even Saturday's, where we were second-best in both.
I believe Accrington ended any realistic chance we may have held of automatic promotion back in January when they outplayed us at The Valley. We have been much better away from home, so will have to home we can put in another disciplined performance on the road and nick the lead. Portsmouth were two-down there last night but eventually left with a 3-3 draw.