Sunday, October 11, 2009

Old Problems Re-Surface

Charlton Athletic 0 Oldham Athletic 0

Not a great afternoon to be an Addicks fan, but at least the record Oldham have of never winning in SE7 was maintained. The day had started with the news that Charlton were last out of the hat, or to have their board chosen to be more precise, and have a trip to Southampton in the Quarter final next round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

News from the Valley was better, when both Lloyd Sam and Frazer Richardson were declared fit, and took their places in the starting line up. Neither contributed much apart from playing the ball around in nice passing triangles during the first half, though this is a little harsh on those two as nothing much happened elsewhere during that opening period. Oldham set up with a 4-5-1 formation, and with Jonjo Shelvey playing so deep, often just in front of the back four, neither team showed much attacking intent, and they therefore cancelled each other out.

Oldham were reduced to pot-shots from anywhere while Charlton, with Therry Racon buzzing about and trying to create, failing to show much except for couple of crosses which flew over Deon Burton’s head. Matt Spring had a fair start to the match, often breaking up play in midfield and putting in a good shot, but Kelly Youga’s foraging down the left often hit a proverbial brick wall.

Half time was a relief, and at least one team did up the tempo and try to win the game after the break. Even the referee, who had seemed to want to give a free-kick to Oldham every time one of their players went to ground in the first hour, got fed up, and started to call the game correctly. Shelvey was hauled off just after the hour mark, and he did have a very disappointing game. If you compared his performance with that of the equally follically-challenged Oldham number seven, Whittaker, one player buzzed around wanting the ball, taking free kicks and corners and trying to be involved, and Shelvey didn’t.

His substitute Izale McLeod was pushed right up alongside Burton as Oldham were so obviously now trying to scrape the draw. McLeod's pace immediately earned him a chance, but his right foot attempt met thin air, and the chance was lost. It was all Charlton now, and wave after wave of attack was met by desperate defending, although all during this time, the ‘keeper was hardly troubled to make a save.

Youga was now getting into some dangerous positions, and when Clinton McKenzie came on for the worn out Burton with fifteen minutes left, gaps started to emerge in the visitors so-far water-tight defence. Miguel Llera, back in the team while Sam Sodje is on international duty and now sporting a red head-guard, nodded a free-kick onto the top of the bar, then McLeod repeated his fresh air shot with his left foot (left) after great play where Racon unselfishly set him up ten yards out from goal.

Youga had the final close shave, when his acrobatic overhead kick thudded against the bar (top pic) and came out. Even with five minutes of injury time being allowed by the frustrated referee, a break-through just would not come, and the end finally came to the stale-mate.

Oldham will be very pleased with their point and Charlton equally frustrated by the lack of league goals. It wasn’t as if any of the Charlton team had played badly, even Shelvey, it was just that one team got all the breaks and hung on to the draw. Charlton will see plenty of teams set up to counter them in the same way, especially at The Valley, and it is now down to Phil Parkinson and his team to work out the best way to break these teams down and get back to winning ways, starting next Saturday against a good Huddersfield side.

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