A deeply disappointed KEVIN NOLAN saw a 12th place finish in League One cruelly snatched from Charlton’s grasp on the last day of a season of stifling mediocrity. He gamely removed his tongue from his cheek and came up with the following report.
Sinking to previously unplumbed depths of ineptitude, not to mention incompetence, Charlton inflicted on nearly 2,000 followers a performance which should live in club history as a “day of infamy”. They were almost comically bad but were spared a hiding of historic proportions by their hit-or-miss tormentors, who squandered a lorry load of chances on their way to an emphatic 4-0 victory.
To be scrupulously fair, the Addicks might have scored one or two themselves. Town keeper Christian Walton pulled off a superb save to keep out Jayden Stockley’s first half header but should subsequently have been given no chance by Stockley, who managed to hit the bar from two yards in the second session.
And before moving on, we can’t overlook the mess Conor Washington concocted when presented with a gaping net by Walton and his dithering defenders as they treated Chuks Aneke’s lofted ball like a live grenade. Washington helpfully defused the danger by lobbing tamely over the top.
That last paragraph might have left readers with the impression that at some point during this acutely embarrassing exercise, Charlton actually made a decent fight of it. The uncomfortable truth is they were never in with a chance once their hosts sprinted into a two-goal lead within 11 minutes of the start.
Hungrier, sharper, quicker to every ball, the Tractor Boys were superior in every department. Their victims were no more than acquiescent dupes. Or dopes – take your pick.
At the painful end of Town’s opening onslaught was 22 year-old league debutant Nathan Harness, who had good reason to curse his luck. Young Nathan was horribly exposed as Tyreeq Bakinson was allowed time and space to tee up an unencumbered shot from just outside the penalty area and made the most of abysmal marking to find the top right corner.
Still reeling from the nightmare start, Harness, who was deputising for off-colour first choice Craig McGillivray, then left his line to confront Wes Burns, who was sent through the middle by Conor Chaplin’s defence-splitting pass, but was beaten by the lively wide man’s coolly slotted finish. At that exact point in the lopsided proceedings, only the hardest of hearts would have begrudged the novice keeper at least a grain of sympathy. It’s likely that his confidence had already been compromised by the clearance he shanked into touch while dealing with a criminally under-hit back pass before the first goal.
With friends like those he found in front of him, Harness had no need to look far for enemies. He’s young, he’ll get over it.
The instinctive reaction Walton produced to turn aside Stockley’s clever header from Adam Matthews’ perfect cross was the visitors’ only positive contribution to the first half.
Five minutes after the interval, they made a chaotic start to the second period by conceding for the third time. Largely responsible for their downfall was ex-Addick Macauley Bonne, regularly undermined during his stay at The Valley by the harsh criticism of his manager Lee Bowyer.
Possibly with a point to make and a score to settle, Bonne was a lively thorn in Charlton’s flesh and laid on Burns’ second strike with a perfect low ball from the left which gave Burns the easy task of sweeping home from close range. Bonne had already netted similarly in the first half but was ruled offside.
Blundering from one mini-crisis to the next, meanwhile, Charlton were woeful. Second balls were passively conceded, clearances were panicky and passing was, shall we say, less than precise. Substitutes Jake Forster-Caskey and Aneke replaced ineffectual midfielders Albie Morgan and Alex Gilbey to marginally positive effect but nothing really worked.
💬 "There will be a lot of lessons learnt from this season, we'll make the adjustments for next season that we'll need to."
Johnnie Jackson speaks following this afternoon's final-day defeat at Portman Road…
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) April 30, 2022
So devastating while rampaging down the left flank recently, Corey Blackett-Taylor was re-deployed at right wingback and, apart from delivering the delicious cross which Stockley wastefully headed against the bar, got nowhere. On an afternoon when none of Johnnie Jackson’s troops stood out, neither Akin Famewo nor Ryan Inniss put a foot right.
Skipper Jason Pearce at least cleared heroically off the goalline from Luke Woolfenden, whose talented skipper Sam Morsy contrived to scuff wide from 10 yards when neatly set up by Burns. Not that Ipswich were denied a fourth goal.
Blameless for the first three goals, poor Harness carried some of the blame for the shot which Bonne’s 85th minute replacement, James Norwood, squeezed home off the far post from a seemingly impossible position on the right byline. In mitigation, Charlton’s beleaguered debutant had received less than sturdy support from Famewo.
Norwood’s coup-de-grace provided a fitting end, not only to this dismal game, but to an equally dismal season.
Except to gratuitously single out Elkan Baggott. Youthful Tractor Boy Elkan put in a steady shift at the back but admittedly did nothing to warrant special recognition. But come on… Elkan Baggott – how often do you come across a magnificent name like that? So in he goes, lump it or like it.
Anyway, that’s me about done until we pick it up again in July. So unless you have something to add… that’s all folks!
Ipswich: Walton, Penney, Woolfenden, Burns, Bakinson, Bonne (Norwood 85), Chaplin (Humphrys 76), Celina, Donacien (Vincent-Young 56), Baggott, Morsy. Not used: Hladky, Pigott, El Mizouni, Aluko.
Charlton: Harness, Blackett-Taylor, Pearce, Famewo, Inniss, Morgan (Forster-Caskey 68), Gilbey (Aneke 54), Matthews, Dobson, Stockley, Washington (Lee 75). Not used: Henderson, Jaiyesimi, Burstow, Elerewe. Booked: Dobson.
Referee: Charles Breakspear. Att: 26,002 (1,972 visiting).
Thanks to Kevin for his reports this season. We’re glad to say he’ll be back next season, which begins on July 30.
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