Sunday, October 04, 2009

A White Result

Leeds United 0 Charlton Athletic 0

Charlton came away from the top of the table clash with a valuable point, thanks to some dogged defending and good teamwork. The howling gale made the game very difficult for both sides, with both sets of players finding it hard to control the ball in the windy conditions; at one stage, Jonjo Shelvey retreated to take a free-kick and found the placed ball rolling toward him, such were the conditions.

Playing with the wind was the easier, and Leeds had the first half benefit. They controlled the game pretty much all of the first half, and did put the Charlton defence, well marshalled by Sam Sodje, who was in the team in place of Miguel Llera, under plenty of pressure. Beckford had a goal disallowed for offside, and other half chances were missed; Johnson came closest to scoring for the home side when his long shot was pushed away for a corner by Rob Elliot. Bechio was carried off after treading on the ball as he turned, and that alleviated some of the problems Charlton had early on. Charlton’s major contribution to the opening period came when Fraser Richardson, playing against his old team-mates, burst forward running 70 yards with the ball down the right wing. His excellent cross found the head of the unmarked Shelvey, but the 17-year-old glanced his header just wide of the far post.

Leeds had dominated possession during the first half, having 59% of the ball, though it was obvious that the wind had contributed largely to that fact. Therry Racon had played for much of the first 45 minutes on the left side of midfield, with Nicky Bailey playing much more centrally, and after half-time, this continued. Scott Wagstaff also came on at the break, in place of Lloyd Sam who had little chance to shine in the city of his birth.

With both teams settled into the game, and the conditions, the tempo picked up around the hour mark, as both sides strove to find that all important first goal. Bailey had a snap shot saved and, in another positive move, Phil Parkinson sent on Izale McLeod for Shelvey with 15 minutes left. Matt Spring, another Leeds old boy, then had a good shot saved, before McLeod almost broke through only to win a corner for his troubles. A good period for the Addicks ended when Racon shot over the bar when well placed. Grant Basey repaced Racon in the last minute of normal time, and the game came to an end after a prolonged period of Leeds pressure brought about by Charlton conceding too many free-kicks (Sodje being booked for his second foot in the back on Owunmi as they both challenged for high balls).

The point won is an excellent one for Charlton as they maintain their solid start to the season, and confirms that the second place in the table is a true indication of the clubs ability this season. While a negative view could be the lack of goals in the last two games, or just one win from the last five matches, that would miss the point that the games played have been tough, and Charlton’s best player has been missing for the last three games.

As the club now embark on three consecutive home games, starting with the Johnstone Paint Trophy game against Barnet, confidence needs to return and the option to use Plan B is obvious. How Parky plays this, with McLeod bound to start on Tuesday, we will have to see, but this could be just the time to see what a few others at the club can offer, while we know that the first eleven are more than capable enough.

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