Saturday, December 02, 2006

Going Down the Wrong Lane

Sheffield United 2 Charlton Athletic 1

This one hurt. As a Charlton fan for many years, you get used to losing games; even to late winners. But when it happens in a very important match, it really hurts.

Charlton were unchanged from last weeks draw with Everton, and after an early bombardment, took the lead with a break away goal started and finished by my one-to-watch Andy Reid. Reid led the charge from midfield and fed Darren Ambrose, whose shot was palmed away, and Reid swept in the rebound.

Sadly, the aerial onslaught did not stop, and it became increasingly evident that Charlton were lucky to survive, as they just seemed unable to cope with the balls being pumped into the area. Carson flapped at a few, so decided to stay on his line; defenders seemed more intent on looking for the second ball than challenging for the first; and the Addicks were lucky that poor finishing meant they went in at half-time still in front.

I guess as a fan it would have been nice if Charlton could have consolidated at half time, happy to settle with what they had, combat or certainly limit the high balls coming into the area in the second half, hope for another goal on the counter attack, and keep more possession, but it wasn't to be. Time after time in the second forty five minutes, Charlton put themselves straight back under pressure, with practically every clearance ending up with (one time Charlton target) Phil Jagielka. Rommedahl and Ambrose saw little ball, and didn't make much effort in seeking it out. Darren Bent had two centre halves to contend with and was totally anonymous.

Eventually one of the set plays had to take its toll. Charlton have struggled with defending set pieces all season, and from the umpteenth corner that United had, Morgan headed in almost unchallenged. It was no less than the Sheffield team deserved, having continued to miss a host of chances.

Les Reed tried to change things straight away, bringing on Marcus Bent and removing Rommedahl, and that did give some support to Dazza; in fact, a close offside decision went against him when he finished superbly off the post, but it didn't take long for the seige to start again. Kishishev came on for Ambrose, as Reed seemed to settle for the draw with fifteen minutes to go, but long throws, corners and free kicks continued to get thrown into the Charlton penalty area.

With two minutes left on the clock, a throw was cleared to the edge of the area and Gillespie smashed home the volley unchallenged. A great shot yes, but no challenge came his way, and another Untied player could also have put the shot in such was the Charlton marking.

Lloyd Sam came on in injury time, but probably didn't touch the ball, and the game finished with Charlton heads - both players, fans, and management - drooped disconsolately.

The win takes United out of the bottom three and, more worrying for Charlton, seven points clear of the Addicks who remain bottom.

There are must win games, and must win games. Tuesday nights game against Blackburn (who beat Fulham 2-0 today) is now a vital must, must, must win game for Charlton. Anything less will see a widening gap become a bit too wide for our liking, and realistically, too wide to bridge over the next twenty-odd games.

I've always been positive about Charlton's chances of surviving/avoiding relegation, but this result, and failure to win on Tuesday night, may just make this blog consider the worst, and face up to the reality that the team currently just isn't good enough to compete in Europe's best league.

Pedro, compared to most, your blog comments on yet another Charlton dismal showing are optimistic!
this has been copied from Uncle Frankie's site ( sorry Frankie!) but I am too fuming to comment - this reply from a Sheffield fan says....

We were surprisingly strong today. Created loads of chances and could have had 3 or 4. Gave a debut to a young lad called Stephen Quinn, brother of Alan. He was a breath of fresh air.
For all you disheartened Charlton fans i need to say this. Reid was man of the match for me. He bossed the midfield and was involved in everything. Created and broke up play in equal measures. Took his goal well.
The game changed as soon as we levelled. Why oh why you were playing 4-5-1 for 60 mins is beyond me. During this time we were dominant. As soon as you changed to 4-4-2 you came back into it and looked very dangerous. I really have to question the team tactics. If you had played 4-4-2 from the start our weakened defence would have had no chance against the pace and strength of M & D Bent. As it is we pulled through and capped an impressive display with a class goal in the dying minutes. Bad luck today and best of luck for the rest of the season, i wish you well.

god I'm still fuming.
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