Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

Charlton fans turned up at The Valley on Saturday to celebrate the end of Roland Duchâtelet’s reign as club owner – but Sheffield Wednesday spoiled the party by beating the injury-ravaged Addicks, as KEVIN NOLAN reports…

Already sapped by the rash of injuries that have destroyed their promising season, Charlton were kicked while they were down by a mischievous virus which robbed them on Friday of first team regular Ben Purrington and deputy goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer. Centre back Tom Lockyer, though also affected, recovered enough to play but will miss next week’s trip to Middlesbrough after irresponsibly picking up a fifth booking for dissent mere minutes before judicial amnesty kicked in. Meanwhile, teenage midfielder Albie Morgan was, according to beleaguered manager Lee Bowyer, sick before kick-off and again at half-time.

Expert by now at making a little go an impressively long way, Bowyer handed lively left wingback Alfie Doughty his full league debut, named 19-year-old Nathan Harness as Maynard-Brewer’s deputy and completed a depleted bench of only five substitutes with further untried youngsters in Josh Davison and James Vennings. Possibly sent out with an inter-denominational prayer rather than a team talk, the walking wounded made a fair but unsuccessful fist of coping with Sheffield Wednesday. A lack of spirit was not their undoing but they were unable to halt a sequence which has earned them just two points from seven games since they demolished Derby County on October 19th.

Charlton’s nemesis on Saturday proved to be Wednesday’s canny Scot Barry Bannan, a midfield dynamo with an unfortunate Crystal Palace pedigree. Hitting the big 3-0 the day after this game, Bannan covered every inch of The Valley’s lawn-like pitch, his will-to-win undimmed by the advancing years. His first contribution was the precise fifth-minute free kick which Atdhe Nuhiu headed emphatically home from a marginally offside position.

Sarr’s costly lapses

Turning up a little later on the opposite flank, Bannan curled a cross which all but begged Steve Fletcher to glance an artful header inside the right hand post. The less said of Naby Sarr’s sluggish reaction to danger the better, except to ruefully note that he was taught a harsh lesson by Fletcher, whose movement and anticipation belied his 33 years. Fully ten years his junior, Sarr continues to undermine frequently sublime passing with costly defensive lapses. But he cares – nobody denies he cares.

Supporting Fletcher and Nuhiu up front for the visitors, feisty Fernando Forestieri announced his presence with a raking low drive narrowly wide of the target. Shortly thereafter, he claimed responsibility for a warm favourite as “miss of the season.” Arriving at the far post after Fletcher’s header, from Kadeem Harris’ right wing centre, was brilliantly saved by Phillips, Forestieri seemed a cinch to score but contrived to blast the loose ball wildly wide from three yards. His interval replacement by Jacob Murphy might have been a direct consequence of Garry Monk’s ill-disguised displeasure: the manager’s irritation was justified because the Addicks’ prompt response to Forestieri’s howler was to equalise.

Picking up Sarr’s pass on the left touchline, Doughty disposed of Moses Odubajo’s marking by the simple expedient of knocking the ball wide of his bemused marker before skinning him on the inside by a searing turn of pace. Doughty’s hard, low cross was controlled by Macauley Bonne, then prodded past Cameron Dawson, with the keeper wrongfooted by a deflection off Tom Lees. Phillips promptly did his bit to preserve interval equality with a brilliant one-on-one block on Bannan, which left the indefatigable Caledonian in a painful heap. Unhappily, as far as Charlton’s chances were concerned, he made a full recovery.

The second half developed into an unremitting slog for Charlton as they battled bravely for the valuable point their unstinting effort arguably deserved. With the visitors in control, Phillips again earned his corn by saving smartly from Bannan, then sparing Deji Oshilaja’s blushes by sprawling to turn aside Harris’ low crosshot after the speedster was gifted the ball by the absentminded Addick.

Progressively weary troops

Bowyer’s progessively weary troops were eyeing the finishing line when the pressure told on them. Pursuing Murphy to the right byline, Erhun Oztumer’s tired, ill-considered lunge from behind on the Newcastle United loanee left referee Tim Robinson with little alternative but to award a penalty which Fletcher efficiently converted.

The hulking Nuhiu’s stoppage time header did justice to Adam Reach’s perfect delivery but merely garnished Wednesday’s victory on a chilly afternoon which featured the Charlton debut of young Vennings. Good luck to the kid but the 19-year-old’s appearance in the first team hardly featured in Bowyer’s plans for a season still considerably short of its halfway mark.

There was little evidence of “new owners’ bounce” but plenty to suggest that the Addicks, as soon as the medical room begins to empty, are a match for any side in the Championship. Remind me of that remark come next May if you like. I’m not usually hard to find.

Charlton: Phillips, Matthews, Lockyer, Sarr, Oshilaja, Pratley, Morgan (Vennings 61), Oztumer (Davison 81), Doughty, Leko, Bonne. Not used: Harness, Pearce, Solly.

Wednesday: Dawson, Odubajo, Lees, Hutchinson (Luongo 77), Iorfa, Fox, Harris (Reach 80), Bannan, Forestieri (Murphy 46), Nuhiu, Fletcher. Not used: Jones, Lee, Pelupessy, Winnall.

Referee: Tim Robinson. Att: 18,338 (2,680 visiting).

ROLAND OUT: Charlton fans celebrate as hated owner Duchâtelet finally sells up

Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Charlton fans held a protest march with Coventry City fans in October 2016 (photo: Neil Clasper)

An Abu Dhabi-based consortium has bought Charlton Athletic, ending five years off calamitous ownership by the Belgian electronics magnate Roland Duchâtelet.

East Street Investments – named after the street (now Eastmoor Street) near the Thames Barrier where the Addicks were founded in 1905 – have bought out Duchâtelet, who alienated fans by interfering in team selection, sacking much-loved manager Chris Powell, drafting in unsuitable players from other clubs he owned, and mocking unhappy supporters as “vinegar pissers”.

Fans threw plastic pigs onto the pitch and travelled to Duchâtelet’s home town of Sint-Truiden to protest at a regime which saw the club relegated to League One in 2016. While the Addicks regained their Championship status this spring after winning a play-off final at Wembley, the future of the club – and especially manager Lee Bowyer – remained uncertain with key players and the manager himself only retained on short-term contracts. Now many fans are ending lengthy boycotts of the club.

The new chairman, Matt Stratford, said in a statement: “While we may be the club owners, truly we are only the custodians. The true spirit of this football club rests with the fans, it is nothing without them. Their support throughout some difficult times both recently and in the past has been inspirational and we intend to build on that loyalty. Our priority will be immediate contact with fan groups in order that their views play a major role in the club going forward.”

Stratford’s fellow director is Tahnoon Nimer, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Business Development, the private office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, a member of one of the six ruling families of Abu Dhabi. The company oversees the running of more than 60 companies including energy, insurance, broadcasting, shipping and sports businesses.

Charlton fans will be hoping it is third time lucky with new owners – Duchâtelet was preceded by Michael Slater and Tony Jiminez, whose reign foundered when promised financial backing was withdrawn. The new owners’ plans for The Valley and the club’s training ground at Sparrows Lane in Eltham will also be closely scrutinised.

The team are next in action tomorrow against Sheffield Wednesday, with tickets on sale from The Valley.


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Metro Bank gets go-ahead for Charlton retail park branch

Metro Bank design
The bank plans a glass-fronted building

Metro Bank has been given permission by Greenwich Council to build a new branch to replace the McDonald’s drive-through restaurant on Bugsby’s Way.

Only two objections were received by the council to the scheme, which was reported on this website in September.

The site is on land designated for long-term housing development, with the council’s own Charlton Riverside masterplan stating that the Bugsby’s Way retail strip does not conform with the council’s “policy to promote Woolwich as a metropolitan town centre”.

With only two objections, the decision can be made by council officers without the application going to councillors to discuss. There is no report by planning officers, so the council’s response to the objections remains a mystery.

Metro Bank – which has had well-reported difficulties in recent months – is aiming for a 25-year lease on the site. The planning permission is valid for three years.

One council condition is that 12 “secure and dry” cycle parking spaces must be provided, on a site that is one of the most intimidating for cyclists in the borough.

McDonald’s has a lease on the land until October 2021 – when contacted by The Charlton Champion in September, it was unable to answer questions about its future plans.


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