Kevin Nolan’s Locked-Down Valley View: Charlton Athletic 2-2 Swindon Town

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

A careless first half led to the Addicks only getting a point from yesterday’s clash at The Valley. KEVIN NOLAN shouted at the television.

It’s time Charlton were persuaded to let go of the wrong end of the stick when the subject of charity is raised.

Let’s face it, we all know it begins at home but it’s intended for those actually AT home, not begging-bowl doorsteppers. At least that’s how it works in football. When relegation-haunted sides show up at the door, they should exit The Valley with no more than a snack and a Thermos flask to console them on the trip back home. It’s hard enough to beat the promotion contenders without extending a helping hand to the poorer classes.

One struggling side after another has been staked to a first half lead – two goals seem to be the going rate – before being outclassed by their benefactors and belatedly pegged back. Second-from-bottom Swindon were the latest mendicants to totter away from SE7 gratefully clutching a point, after being given a torrid second half going over. Behind them they left hosts wondering how they ended up with the same reward after outclassing their visitors during 45 minutes of total domination.

For the answer to the Addicks’ disappointment, look no further than the goals they carelessly conceded before the break. Both were traceable to the chronic defensive flabbiness which threatens to sentence them to at least one more season in the living hell that is League One.

Both of Swindon’s goals were the stuff of nightmares.

Receiving Scott Twine’s pass to the left of Charlton’s goal, Hallam Hope’s intention to cut inside and try his luck on his right foot was hardly a well kept secret. Without obvious cover and vulnerable to the obvious gambit, right back Adam Matthews was left standing as Hope eased past him to fire a crisp drive inside Ben Amos’ near post, with the keeper’s positional judgement coming into serious question.

Making his first start as one of four changes made by Lee Bowyer from the Peterborough defeat, Ronnie Schwartz had already been unlucky not to put Charlton ahead. Gifted a shooting chance by Conor Masterson’s disastrous back pass, the Danish marksman’s low snapshot beat Mark Travers but rebounded to safety off the far post. The linesman who flagged him offside has been provided with a discount voucher at Specsavers. If he can find his way there, that is.

After Chuks Aneke headed Jonny Williams’ excellent cross too close to Travers, the Addicks’ luck was again out as Liam Millar also hit the woodwork. After being fouled close to the edge of the visitors’ penalty area, the Liverpool loanee clipped the bar with a ferocious free kick. It was already clear that Lady Luck’s plans for the afternoon excluded a break here and there for Charlton.

With the interval looming, the Wiltshire men doubled their lead. Picked out by Diallang Jaiyesimi in congested traffic some 25 yards from goal, Matthew Palmer brushed aside a less than hearty challenge by Millar, drew a bead and beat Amos with a helpful deflection off Deji Oshilaja. Though Millar was recruited for his pace and ball skills, his lack of defensive steel shouldn’t go unremarked.

The second half, as stated, belonged to a rampant Charlton. Their shrewd change to a diamond formation from the amphibious landing craft shape which had got them nowhere made the difference and they took the game by the scruff of its neck. Darren Pratley’s close range shot, blocked by Dominic Thompson, and the header directed straight at Travers by Pratley from Jake Forster-Caskey’s cross merely delayed what had become inevitable; Town’s lead was duly halved before the hour.

A rat-a-tat exchange of passes between Millar and Pratley carved out the space the former needed to deliver a delicious first-time cross to the far post, where Aneke plunged forward to head past Travers.

Five minutes later, Aneke’s velvet touch controlled substitute Albie Morgan’s cleverly chipped centre but his thunderous volley crashed harmlessly off the bar. When newcomer Jayden Stockley headed Forster-Caskey’s corner into Travers’ hands, time was beginning to run out on the Addicks but their tourniquet-like pressure finally told in the last minute of regular time.

After swapping passes with Millar to his left, Forster-Caskey let fly optimistically from outside the area; his shot was heading down Travers’ throat until Andrew Shinnie intervened and finished coolly past the startled keeper. Having made a hash of an earlier chance, the Scottish playmaker had redeemed himself and rescued a point for the exciting but criminally culpable home side. It might have been all three but Conor Washington, after rounding Travers, ran out of room and was unable to turn his shot into a gaping net.

Not for the first time recently, the timeworn “one point gained or two points lost?” question answered itself. Charlton can’t continue to surrender two-nil leads (or “two-nought” leads as Alan Curbishley calls ’em) and get away with it. The spirit is admirably strong – the flesh is treacherously weak. It’s great entertainment but it has to stop. So, Lee, get ’em to stop!

Charlton: Amos, Matthews, Gunter, Oshilaja, Maatsen (Pearce 76), Millar, Forster-Caskey, Pratley (Morgan 60), Williams (Shinnie 46), Aneke (Stockley 76), Schwartz (Washington 76). Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Harness. Gilbey.

Swindon: Travers, Freeman (Odimayo 72), Masterson, Conroy, Thompson, Palmer, Lyden, Grant (Payne 63), Twine (M. Smith 64), Hope (Pitman 82), Jaiyesimi. Not used: J. Smith, Curran. Booked: Twine, Thompson, Jaiyesimi.


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