Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 2-2 West Bromwich Albion

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

Saturday saw West Bromwich Albion back in SE7 for the second time in a week. KEVIN NOLAN reports from the first Championship game at The Valley since new owners East Street Investments completed their takeover.

Nursing a strong sense of entitlement, West Bromwich Albion returned to the Midlands clutching the point which, along with Leeds United’s home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, moved them back on top of the Championship. They departed convinced they had somehow been robbed of all three.

The Baggies had been marginally the better team. They had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and had managed more attempts on goal. Slaven Bilic’s experienced side also dominated a couple of other important statistics; they committed 14 fouls to 10 by Charlton, while picking up six of the eight yellow cards issued by referee Jarred Gillet. Recipient himself of one of those cautions, Hal Robson-Kanu pointed out plaintively that Charlton “had been very physical throughout.” They certainly absorbed some crude buffeting. Occasionally gave a little bit back, more power to their elbows..

Bilic was not similarly deluded. His tribute to the still sorely depleted Addicks was generous. “Charlton fought and competed and ran until the end. They never gave up. But we had many chances to score the third. That was disappointing.” It was not Bilic’s place to add that Charlton’s crucial result was achieved with the assistance of three recent academy graduates; so consider this a salute to fledglings Ben Dempsey, Josh Davison and Alfie Doughty, who stood up to be counted as Albion dished out the rough stuff.

Early action

Roared on by a bumper crowd – their second largest of the season – Charlton might have grabbed a first minute lead if Conor Gallagher had returned Sam Johnstone’s errant clearance with slightly more accuracy. The young loanee’s low shot whistled inches the wrong side of a post. At the other end, Dillon Phillips was forced down low to his left to scramble Kenneth Zohore’s bouncing header to safety. It was the Danish forward’s enterprise which won the Baggies an early lead.

Alertly closing Tom Lockyer down as the defender spurned the opportunity to clear his lines in favour of playing out from the back, Zohore anticipated his move back towards goal and neatly relieved him of possession on the right touchline. Bearing down on a wrongfooted defence, the rangy striker’s first effort was bravely charged down by Deji Oshilaja but he made no mistake as the rebound sat up kindly for him.

Away end antics

Heads dropped only briefly because the Addicks were level again six minutes later. Their recovery was begun by impressive league debutant Andre Green, whose persistence earned a corner on the left. The setpiece was delayed as those scamps behind the away goal refused to return the ball. How we chuckled as they larked about and how the hilarity increased as Gallagher’s short corner routine with Doughty improved the angle for a soaring cross which Naby Sarr effortlessly headed down for Davison to calmly nod in his first senior goal from five yards. By now they were in stitches in the Jimmy Seed stand. Bless ’em, the little rascals. They certainly know how to have fun.

A minute after the break, they were chortling again as their heroes regained the lead. In space to the right, Matt Phillips supplied a hard-driven low centre which Robson-Kanu, getting the better of Lockyer at the near post, flicked home off Sarr. For the fourth time in their two-game, eight-goal league saga, the ex-Throstles led the battling Addicks. And yet again, they proved unable to retain their lead.

No own goal

Albion’s excessive testosterone was almost inevitably their undoing. A crude push in the back of substitute Jonny Williams – one of three returning patients from long-term injury – conceded a free kick which Gallagher fed out to Doughty, who crossed from the left touchline. Timing his leap perfectly to outjump Kyle Bartley, Lockyer powered an unstoppable header past Johnstone, with assistance from the right post. Any nonsense about the keeper being debited with an own goal should be treated as pedantic piffle. Lockyer emulated Davison in notching his first goal for the Addicks because no keeper was about to save that header.

We can also dismiss all that meaningless debate concerning what you “deserve” from a football game. You deserve nothing. What you GET is what the final scoreline gives you. It’s the only statistic that matters. There’s nothing else to discuss. If you  fail to grasp that concept, you’re doomed to frequent disappointment. It’s football, not a morality play.

Charlton: Phillips, Matthews, Lockyer, Oshilaja (Williams 62), Sarr, Pratley, Dempsey (Forster-Caskey 62), Doughty, Gallagher, Green, Davison (Hemed 74). Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Purrington, Pearce, Morgan. Booked: Locker, Green.

WBA: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend, Livermore Sawyers, Phillips (Edwards 86), Robson-Kanu (Austin 73), Pereira, Zohore (Diangana 73). Not used: Bond, Krovinovic, Brunt, Hegazi. Booked: Robson-Kanu, Ajayi,Phillips, Pereira, Sawyers, Diangana.

Referee: Jarred Gillet.  Att: 19,270 (3,154 visiting).


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Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 2-2 Hull City

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

Another last-minute goal went the wrong way at The Valley on Friday night. KEVIN NOLAN picks through what went wrong…

Now hovering perilously above the Championship’s relegation basement, Charlton again – yet again! – conceded a vital added time goal which cost them an opportunity to distance themselves from the maelstrom beneath them. And inevitably, they yielded in front of the Jimmy Seed Stand housing the away supporters. The familiar tableau of stricken Addicks falling to their knees while jubilant opponents celebrate wildly with delirious travelling fans is wearing thin. It’s time to change the dynamic.

It might help to consider a few pertinent statistics derived from 12 home games. Charlton have had 14 goals scored against them, of which no fewer than 11 have been registered in the second half at the away end. They’re impressively solid when defending the home goal. Only Stoke, Swansea and Sheffield Wednesday have succeeded in scoring before the home supporters, which means nine other teams have failed to turn the trick in front of the Covered End.

So what can we conclude from these figures? Well, they call into question Charlton’s rigid practice for attacking the visitors’ goal in the first half. Are we meant to assume they win every toss and have their choice of ends? Or is there an unspoken understanding among teams that the hosts get to choose on a turnabout basis?

On too many occasions this season, the Addicks have been called upon to defend a lead with their backs to the away end. And too often they have failed miserably to see the job through to the bitter end. Seven times now they have been caught – on the last two occasions in added time. The squandered points would already have all but secured their place in next season’s Championship. Perhaps they would offer stiffer resistance if the defence – and Dillon Phillips in particular – had a raucous Covered End ranged behind them. There’s a psychological edge to be among friends.

Friday’s hammer-blow was inflicted with the last touch of a see-saw game. Hull were throwing the kitchen sink at their fast unravelling hosts as five minutes of added time extended into a sixth minute. Unwisely, Ben Purrington, who had been drafted into the starting line-up only because Alfie Doughty reported sick, capped an indifferent contribution by committing a needless foul near the halfway line. With every available Tiger crowding the penalty area, goalkeeper George Long hurried forward to send a free kick soaring into the penalty area; Jason Pearce headed clear to playmaker Kamil Grosicki, who controlled neatly, stepped on to his right foot and crossed precisely from the left flank. Leaving Purrington earthbound at the far post, Keane Lewis-Potter directed a clever header inside the right post which Phillips, despite his frantic efforts to save, could only help over the line. The sickening setback was tougher to absorb with Tuesday’s heartbreak still fresh in Valley minds.

Defend the Covered End

There’s no point in speculating, of course, whether the Addicks – and Phillips – would have fared better at the home end but maybe there’s no harm in finding out. The Potters, the Swans and the Owls would confirm it’s harder to score down there.
Setting out in an improvised 3-5-2 formation, meanwhile, Charlton shaded an uneventful first half, from which they emerged a goal to the good. Chances had been few for both sides when Conor Gallagher, having assumed setpiece responsibility, delivered a wind-assisted right wing corner which cleared a congested goal area before being powerfully headed past Long by Darren Pratley. Skipper Eric Lichaj’s ill-starred complaint that he’d been fouled rather than overpowered by Pratley fell on referee Andy Davies’ resolutely deaf ears.

Required to protect their lead in front of the notorious away end, Charlton survived for only two minutes before it was cancelled out. Very much his side’s creative heartbeat, Grosicki found space to send over a dipping ball which Pearce and his defensive colleagues, in fear of an own goal, left untouched as it made its way to the far post. November’s Championship player of the month Jarrod Bowen gleefully bashed the Tigers’ first equaliser into a gaping net.

City’s equality lasted only a couple of minutes before Charlton forged in front again with an outstanding ensemble goal. Starting a flowing move in his own half, Naby Sarr offloaded neatly to Albie Morgan, whose measured pass sent Jonathan Leko running directly at the left side of Hull’s defence. Making mugs of both Reece Burke and Callum Elder, the mercurial WBA loanee ghosted past them and hammered over a low cross which left Sarr, who had alertly followed his initial pass forward, the simple task of finishing from a yard out.

With the second half approaching an apparently happy conclusion, Bowyer’s embattled side seemed to done enough to draw a line under their two-month slump. Phillips played his part with two shap saves from Bowen and Lichaj but otherwise there was little cause for concern which ignored, of course, Charlton’s quite extraordinary inability to see things through to the final whistle. They might possibly find it an easier proposition if they were defending the Covered End. Just saying like…

Charlton: Phillips, Matthews, Lockyer, Pearce, Sarr, Purrington, Pratley, Gallagher, Morgan (Oshilaja 67), Bonne (Taylor 80), Leko. Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Ledley, Solly, Vennings. Booked: Matthews, Leko.

Hull: Long, Lichaj, De Wis, Burke, Batty (Bowler 46), Eaves (Honeyman 76), Irvine, Da Silva Lopez, Bowen, Grosicki, Elder (Lewis-Potter 64). Not used: Ingram, Tafazolli, Kingsley, Pennington. Booked: Irvine, Da Silva Lopez.

Referee: Andy Davies. Attendance: 14,447 (624 visiting).

Charlton fans helping Greenwich Foodbank at The Valley this week

Fans Supporting Foodbanks will be collecting outside The Valley on Tuesday and Friday evenings this week

Charlton Athletic fans are being asked to help Greenwich Foodbank this week by donating non-perishable food at the club’s two home matches on Tuesday and Friday evenings.

A similar appeal last year resulted in local families in need receiving 1,000 meals. With the promoted club experiencing a spike in attendances, Fans Supporting Foodbanks will be hoping to beat that number this year.

You’ll find a collection point in The Valley’s car park from 6.15pm on Tuesday, ahead of the match against Huddersfield Town, and from 6.15pm on Friday, before the Hull City game. You don’t have to be going to the match to donate.

The food bank is looking for food with a long shelf life and that doesn’t require refrigeration. Examples include cereals, rice, long life milk or canned meat or fish. It currently has plenty of beans and pasta but is in great need of tinned fruit, tinned carrots, tinned peas, long-life fruit juice and tinned rice/custard.

If you can’t make it to The Valley, there are collection points at Charlton House, Sainsbury’s Charlton Riverside and Charlton Asda.


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