Monday 26 December 2022

Charlton Athletic 1 v Peterborough United 1

A thoroughly frustrating Boxing Day. We should have take three points but were equally fortunate at the finish not to lose. Latest manager, Dean Holden, will have learnt a lot.

He started with the bold selection of Kanu and Leaburn upfront and retained Ness in a five man defence with Clare and Sessegnon running the wings. Fraser, Dobson and Payne were in central midfield.

It was an inauspicious start as Posh ran the first-half. With the ball spending so much time in our half, Woolwich Pigeon and the Flock took up residence in the Peterborough half, feeding on an abundance of grass seed. They were so at home, that a rare Charlton foray resulted in one of their number being trodden on and I had to watch him flapping and falling about into the second-half as he appeared to be unable to fly. All we had to talk about in the opening forty-five was an early Scott Fraser free-kick which he put narrowly wide. The visitors should have opened the scoring on 35 minutes when they were in clear on goal but Ashley Maynard-Brewer made himself big and blocked the shot. The follow-up fell kindly for them, central to goal, but we managed to get bodies in the way of that effort too. 

We were really struggling to hold the ball up front. Kanu and Leaburn looked like the boys they are up against the seasoned pros they were. Their first touches were too heavy or their passes wayward as we faltered. At the break I would have advocated a change but with only Stockley to choose from, I was content to let them continue on their learning curve.

In yet another, game of two-halves, we came out fired-up and moved twenty yards up the pitch. Each attack was being supported by runners and the game turned. On 48 minutes a ball up to Kanu was superbly controlled as he turned and charged onto his own touch down our left-hand side. As he ran on, he crossed first time. The ball looked too high for Miles Leaburn as he raced in with his marker and his leap looked like it would be just too short but he stretched and his glancing touch was just enough to send the ball whistling past Blackmore and into the net. A real chip off the old block. It was a thing of beauty to witness and the resounding hope of Christmas 2022.

After that we really should have killed the game. Four minutes later we broke from a Peterborough corner and the ball out freed Clare and Payne as they raced clear of the Posh back-markers. Clare ran forty yards straight at goal and had only Blackmore to beat. His low shot skidded past the keeper but agonisingly rebounded off the inside of the far post. 

Leaburn then rode three challenges to emerge in the box with ball still at his feet but his shot was smothered by Blackmore. At this point my five team Acca was on but before I could look at cashing out, Peterborough equalised. A corner to the back post wasn't dealt with and top scorer Clarke-Harris got the touch to beat Maynard-Brewer from close range. After that the substitutions began and the game slowed although the visitors might have snatched it when the impressive Poku rounded our back line and cut in to drive a shot off the bear with Maynard-Brewer beaten. Jesurun Rak-Sakyi missed another sitter, screwing the ball wide when he just had to push it past the keeper. When the final whistle blew the crowd filed out in silence.

We have to hope that our January transfer business is significantly better than we would have got with Sandgaard funding it. We simply have to get at least one goalscorer in. We are down to bare bones and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Leaburn left a la Mason Burstow last January. Andy Scott has said there will be no fire-sale but that only implies we will look for reasonable prices for our players. It's too much to expect Leaburn and Kanu to carry the scoring burden for the rest of the season. Stockley looked knackered ten minutes after coming on and made no contribution to the game once again. 

I also think we need a midfield general. Dobson is great mopping up and driving us on but he is poorly supported by anyone else. Payne was kept on a short lease today and Fraser, whilst tidy on the ball, lacks pace and is closed down quickly. Sessegnon had another decent game to add to his tally but he isn't left-sided and is more of a full-back than wing-back. Clare was better today and more attacking than of late but he has to learn to be more direct and to beat the keeper. 

Innis and Lavell look better with three at the back but Inniss continues to make huge mistakes and got away with another two today.

I also think it's time to say goodbye to Rak-Sakyi. I think he has lost a bit of confidence and is far from the prospect we saw earlier this season. Not sure the Championship is a good move for him but I won't be unhappy to see him go to Millwall as rumoured. 

Oxford on Thursday evening looks like mission impossible and I don't fancy our chances at Portsmouth either. Dean Holden is going to earn his money in the next fortnight. 

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